Season’s greetings from all of us here at Piccalilly! It’s the first day of advent and a time to actively engage in a more ethical Christmas. It’s also a good time for all of us to consider the true impact our buying choices have on the world around us and how we can start making small changes to improve the working lives and conditions of those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s really encouraging to hear that more and more of us are thinking about the consequences our actions have on the environment and the people who make the products we purchase. But it’s also hard to believe that in our lifetime there are a still a staggering 1 in every 10 children still working as child labourers. Worldwide there are 152 million children involved in child labour and 48% are aged between 5-11 years!! This is not acceptable.
As consumers the thirst for cheaper and cheaper goods is still growing. The result is that more and more children are being exploited and forced into child labour. So, what is the true cost of a cheap Christmas present? It’s a child’s freedom, a child’s education and a child’s future. When a child is forced to work, they are not free to attend school or be free to be a child. They are also not safe. We wouldn’t accept this for our own children, so why do we accept this as a reality for children less fortunate than our own?
As we count down the days until Christmas it’s now time for us all to stand up and do our bit to end child labour. We need to shop smarter and THINK before we shop!
I started Piccalilly, an organic baby and childrenswear brand in 2006, after the birth of my second child. The starting point and DNA for Piccalilly was always that the Piccalilly Way of doing things was always to be environmentally sustainable and work from the ground upwards with a transparent and ethical supply chain that cared for everyone along the way. Top of this agenda has always been that we must know who makes our clothes and care for the most vulnerable people at the bottom of our supply chain. Children working in this supply chain is not acceptable and to limit the risk we’ve worked with the same factory since we launched and ensured it is socially compliant through third party audits including Flo Cert and GOTS. There is a strict no under 18 years of age working policy and it’s comforting to know that our factory has an open door policy for buyers to its entire supply chain, from field through to factory. We make the most of this and love visiting several times a year. Our transparent and ethical supply chain should be the norm, but sadly it’s not. Why? Because as consumers our thirst for cheaper and cheaper goods is growing and western companies keep looking for more affordable (which translates to cheap) manufacturing. Much of this saving comes from labour.
This week I watched the documentary ‘The Price of Free’ featuring Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi who has been battling against child labour for the last 3 decades. This documentary served as a massive reminder to me why I started Piccalilly in the first place. It also got me thinking that in the run up to Christmas we can all make a difference by becoming more aware of the labour practices of the companies that we buy from and asking them to fight against child labour too.
It was in 2008 that I first got to hear about the great work of Kailash Satyarthi. I was travelling in India on one of our annual supply chain trips and I was introduced to a project called the Global March Against Child Labour. This led to an introduction to a grassroots movement called the BBA (Bachpan Bachao Andolan) in Delhi, founded by Kailash. We were in Delhi at the time and invited to visit the BBA’s Mukti Ashram in Delhi, to see the good work for ourselves. The ashram operates as a safe place where children rescued from child labour in the region are provided with immediate shelter, food, medical help and counselling until they can be reunited with their families. Astonishingly, the children were surprisingly resilient and fun to be around. Whilst we chose not to document our visit by taking photograph’s, we got the chance to meet and talk to the children and later we were able to donate organic cotton bedding and clothes.
But why are children still prevalent in our clothing supply chains today, from the cotton fields, to mills and factories? There’s one main reason, they are cheap and very often they are FREE. It’s time that we stop knowingly allowing this practice to continue. We all need to think before we embark on our Christmas shopping and stop engaging with companies who allow the practice of child labour to fuel our desire for cheap clothes and toys. As a consumer you have the power to be a change maker and work towards ending child labour. Get angry about child labour, it’s not acceptable. Buy less but buy well. If a deal seems too good to be true it probably is. And don’t forget to ask more questions and only buy from the brands that you trust.
Here are some opportunities for you to take action and work towards an end to child labour.
- I strongly urge you all to take the time to watch ‘The Price of Free’ so you too can understand the issues relating to child labour. https://priceoffree.com/watch-the-film/
- Spread the word: Share the film with your friends and family and join the movement to raise awareness around the issues and end the practice of child labour
- As a consumer vote with your £ GB Pounds, $ Dollar, € Euros and choose to buy from the brands you know and trust are socially compliant and child labour free.
- Ask your favourite brands “whose hands made my stuff”?
- Shop smarter this Christmas - Buy less and buy well
Make this Christmas count by exercising your spending power more wisely and making a difference to those that really do count! Help end child labour and ensure all our children are free, safe and educated.
Hannah Evans - Founder Piccalilly www.piccalilly.co.uk
#endchildlabour #endchildslavery #ethicalchristmas
To find out more about the great work of the BBA and Kailash Satyarthi visit the following websites;