Are There Slaves in Your PPE ?

Where you buy your masks and PPE matters. Are you supporting modern day slaves in your PPE ? The pandemic has pushed up the demand across the world. Factories are buzzing trying to fill orders. But are the workers being paid? Do they have good working conditions?

This article looks at masks and rubber gloves. Check our our tips and links to find unique and ethical face masks or design your own!

Rubber Glove Scandal

Malaysia makes more than half the world’s rubber gloves. A recent Channel 4 News story revealed the poor working conditions and illegal practices of one company, Top Glove, pushing their workers to meet the demand. Since then, pressure has been put on Top Glove to clean up its act as the US rejected a large delivery of rubber gloves based on forced labour in their factories. Top Glove’s share price has risen over 350 percent this year, boosted by huge global demand for protective gear. Reaping in the profits at the cost of exploiting workers.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it had placed a detention order on imports of products made by subsidiaries of Malaysia’s Top Glove, ‘based on reasonable evidence of forced labor in the manufacturing process.’”

We can’t make comment on their worker rights and conditions, but an Australian rubber glove company that you might want to check out is Mun Australia. Because they produce their ‘GloveOn’ range and ‘PrimeOn’ hand sanitiser and moisturisers here in Australia, we think they are worth supporting. At the Freedom Hub we always check out Australian made products as our first option. Because it is easier to audit and we also want to support our own economy first.

Face Mask Quandaries

Masks are also in huge demand right now. In the UK this week and in Melbourne, they have become mandatory. It is very easy to jump online and buy cheap mass produced masks. But how can you be sure there are no slaves in your PPE? Because masks that come out of high-risk countries are difficult to audit, you are very likely contributing to another human’s exploitation and misery. As that is a very unpleasant thought, we thought this might help.

Here are three things you can do to prevent slavery in your PPE masks.

1. Make your own mask.

Here is a great article that gives you 5 ways to make your own great zero waste pattern using an old t-shirt or a bandana. Or this video shows one that is a bit fancier! There are loads of tips online for making your own. But it’s worth also reading The World Health Organisations tips on making sure they are COVID safe.

2. Buy from suppliers who check their supply chain.

The Modern Slavery Act in Australia and the UK means many suppliers now audit their supply chain for slavery. You should find it on their website. It is really worth a couple of extra minutes when shopping online to check the website to see if they comment on their supply chain policy, labour rights or have a modern slavery statement. If you jump on Etsy and look for small bespoke local suppliers or companies that align with human rights values, you are safer. Here is an Australian made face mask on Etsy.

The photo in this article shows masks on a website called WEARTH London who promote themselves as an ethical brand. “Wearth was created in 2017 and we now partner with over 150 independent UK brands that make contemporary eco-friendly and ethical products, making it easier for you to shop and live more consciously.”

If you want to check out a great Australian directory for ethical shopping look at Ethical Clothing Australia.

3. Buy a survivor made mask

Now this is next level support of victims of slavery. Check out this site “Masks for Freedom for masks that have been made by people who have at some point been victims of slavery.

“FBA will double the impact of every mask you purchase by donating 1 mask to someone in need in a developing country where our member businesses operate. That means your purchase saves jobs around the world!”

Therefore, we think it is well worth the wait and the extra $ to support them.

So we hope this article has helped you think about whether there are slaves in your PPE and take a little extra time in deciding where you will buy from.

The Freedom Hub has had ethical supply chains since the day we started. We knew we could not fight slavery in Australia and at the same time contribute to slavery with the goods we purchase. This has positioned us to help others who want to know more about how to run an ethical business. Find out more about how we help here.

If you are looking for bespoke ethical gifts made in Australia or some home decor products, check out our shop.

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