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Slavery Footprint Test

20 October 2011

Just dropping off another link today: Slavery Footprint.

I’m not going to be the arbiter of whether it’s accurate or not, but it’s certainly something worth consideration and passing around.  The results page provides a map of where many of our possibly slave-obtained products come from.  You can go into the adjustment sidebar on most pages and get really specific, which is a useful aspect of the test.  (The visuals and different interactive features are quite nice, not that that’s terribly relevant.)  Two things off the top of my head that would have improved it are more precision in the living arrangement options (living in a shared space where many items are split between multiple people, for example) and differentiating between buying ‘standard’ or locally sourced produce.

My slave tally was 28, mostly due to cotton and bathroom products (though many of the medical and food items aren’t exclusively mine).  I’m surprised that it wasn’t even higher.  What I’m really surprised about, though–and by surprised I mean skeptical–is that the average ‘score’ at the time I took the test was only 24.  I can’t check out the comparison page because I haven’t signed up with the site, but I would guess that the participants so far have either been skewed politically/economically toward a less consumerist lifestyle, or that many people aren’t being entirely honest.  Which is sort of silly when the test is supposed to tell you about your footprint.  Be honest, people!

That is all.  Check out the test and pass it round!


[Site found via A Radical Profeminist]


2 Comments leave one →
  1. 21 October 2011 00:07

    Shit, I got 29 (trying to be as honest as possible): you beat me! But seriously, 24 seems like a really low average – either people are lying or their just aren’t that many people doing the test. I also was surprised that I only got 29… Considering the economic relationship between the centre and the periphery, this doesn’t just seem low it seems like bad positivist data. There’s a total slave structure here that is not just connected to individuals but to the entire social process.

    I mean, whether or not someone eats local food (which is probably worth tweaking in the data) is connected to other internal social pressures. Poor people in the centres can’t afford to always eat less exploitative food, obviously, and so the larger social pressures produce this state of affairs… The fact that we live in a society where we have the option between eating “ethically/unethically” is a problem that, in itself, is produced by this slave situation.

    On the more individual level,I think they also should have also added: a) your place of work; b) the amount of money you make (wage relationships are pretty important for slavery).

    • 21 October 2011 11:27

      Good additional ideas. I agree that there are structural (and historical) issues involved that would make our actual slave tally higher, and that the test is an incomplete measure of that. I got the impression from some aspects of the test that it’s trying to tell us how many slaves contributed to what we possess right now, but other sections seemed more generalized (usually infrequent electronics purchases versus obviously continuous food purchases, for example). In any case, complete accuracy might be impossible to work out, so I don’t fault the test too much–I liked it overall.

      Ethical consumption movements are pretty much a can of worms that deserve more words than I can give them in this comment thread, but I do agree with what you said about local food. It’s important for each of us to recognize the damage we do when we consume and to reduce harm as much as possible according to our ability (the consistent anti-prostitution/trafficking messages throughout were much appreciated). At the same time, though, we have to challenge the individualist/liberal way of addressing structural problems–including framing the test as ‘slaves that work for you,’ which contributes to such blame-shifting individualist rhetoric. I would’ve liked to have seen those little info tidbits on each page clearly point out that these are problems rooted in capitalism and not just consumption.

      But I’m preaching to the choir here, surely!

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