In a consumerist society where profit is often prioritized over morality, it can be difficult for students to make ethical purchases that align with their beliefs. That’s why it’s important for students to make educated decisions before making everyday purchases.
Large corporations that cut corners to maximize profits will usually hide behind false images of equality and humanity. For example, after former child-slaves filed a suit against Nestle for its role in their forced labor, Switzerland-based Nestle denied the claims.
“We have explicit policies against [child labor] and are working with other stakeholders to combat this global social problem,” the corporation said.
Despite the attempts to clean its image, numerous other scandals concerning Nestle brand have arisen. The scandals include attempting to profit off poverty-stricken mothers in Africa, sourcing palm oil from unsustainable suppliers, purchasing chocolate produced by child labor and raising water prices during the height of the Flint water crisis.
Nestle, which owns KitKat, Nescafé, Nesquik, Purina and Nespresso, is just one example of a popular corporation which partakes in unethical practices.
The online retailer, Amazon, is also guilty of subjecting its employees to poor working conditions.
The retailer often places intense pressure on workers to meet specific quotas, installing surveillance cameras, short breaks and security checks to monitor the workers’ progress.
Ex-workers have recounted injuries they received on the job that went neglected until they finished their shift. All to ensure Amazon’s two-day prime delivery guarantee.
This may come as a surprise to Amazon customers, many of whom are students. Today, many people face a myriad of ethical dilemmas, from the clothes that they wear to the shipping options at online checkout, so what are they to do?
It is not practical to boycott every company that is suspected of inhuman treatment, but some companies are certainly better than others. That’s why it is important to do background research on companies before making purchases.
Certain items such as chocolate products, clothing and household cleaning products are more likely to utilize unfair labor and animal testing in the manufacturing of their products.
Chocolate in particular is typically sourced from the poverty-stricken regions of west Africa. This causes an influx in child labor as most cannot afford to attend school beyond a primary education. Few fair-trade chocolate producers exist due to the costs associated with fair wages. Except for a few fair-trade brands, all of the chocolate on the supermarket shelves are the product of modern slave labor.
Exploitative company practices are a common occurrence, so it is important to stay vigilant about the products you use.