Even the most conscious try-hards among us have a hard time avoiding forced labor in our daily transactions. In fact, the average “hipster” can employ up to 27 slaves each day, according to Made in a Free World, a San Francisco–based nonprofit that works to mitigate the business of human exploitation. The group arrived at the number by examining purchases typically associated with members of the trendy-millennial subculture, say, flannel shirts, skinny jeans, or chukka boots. Actual figures will vary from individual to individual, of course, but Made in a Free World says the estimate serves to illustrate the myriad ways savvy consumers can support unethical business practices, however inadvertently.
“Think about how crazy that is,” Made in a Free World told The Huffington Post. “This person who values independent thinking, progressive politics, art, music, creativity, intelligence (and tight-fitting jeans) is unknowingly wearing and using products that are creating abusive environments for people globally. But, admittedly, it’s tough to buy ethical because so many of the brands we grow to know, love and trust simply don’t uphold standards that align with our personal ethos.”
That’s not to say hipsters—or just about anyone, really—can’t make a difference through their wallets. All it takes is a more discerning eye toward the companies we align with. “If hipsters purchase from Made in a Free World companies, they invest in supply chains that protect against forced and child labor,” the group said. “This preferred purchasing trickles down to disrupt illicit markets deep in the supply chain.”