Products Made by Child Labor - with Alternative Options

June 10, 2016 Opinion 
Slave Free Lifestyle, Child Labor

For the World Day Against Child Labor we wanted to add some products to our list! For more recommendations download our Slave Free Buying Guide.

A question that anti-slavery activists often receive is: what types of goods are made using child labor? People want to avoid buying slave-made goods. Below, you will find an answer to that question. Along with each type of good, we've provided you with a slave free retailer or supplier.


A couple years ago Nike came under fire for having children working in the factories making shoes. While there might not be the progress we would like with larger companies like Nike, we are seeing many new fair trade shoe companies pop up. One of our favorites is Oliberte! They have a line for both men and women that are beautiful and ethically made.


The cosmetic industry is typically forced to focus on ethical production in terms of no animal testing and environmental sustainability. This means those making the items are often overlooked. Thistle Farms is a brand of bath & body products made by survivors of trafficking.


Harvesting sugar is one of the hardest jobs in terms of agriculture and since the world has become more addicted to sugar, we need to produce more of it. These workers are often exploited. Sugar is one product though that is relatively easy to find fair trade in your local supermarket. Just look for a fair trade label and buy that brand! 


Children in the carpet industry are often forced to weave carpets for 14+ hours a day and are subject to terrible abuse if they try to sleep or if they mess up. GoodWeave is getting children out of the carpet industry and back into school. The good news for you as a consumer is: there are so many retailers that feature GoodWeave certified rugs! Shop online to find a rug that suits your style and budget. The image below is from Judy Ross Textiles, a GoodWeave certified retailer.

Tabla Rug © Judy Ross Textiles

Diamonds & Gold

You might have heard the term 'blood diamond,' or even think you bought a "conflict free" diamond. But there are many other issues with the diamond mining industry, like frequent child labor and worker abuse. Just because a diamond is labeled conflict free does not mean it was ethically mined. Gold mining is a similar story; it is estimated that there are 600,000 children in the gold mining industry. We could go on about the terrible abuse in these industries but, if you'd like to know more, visit the Brilliant Earth cause page. Brilliant Earth promises and delivers truly ethical diamonds.


The Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) is one of the largest producers of the wonderful cocoa that makes up of our chocolate. It is also home to an estimated 250,000 child laborers. Check out our photo gallery on child labor in the chocolate industry. Fortunately, there are quite a few options for fairly traded chocolate, many of which can be found in local super markets. Look for labels stating they are ethically produced. Some of our favorites are Theo and Equal Exchange.

Cotton & Garments

In Uzbekistan, the entire population is forced to pick cotton during harvest, including the children. This cotton eventually becomes the clothes you may have in your closet. The fashion industry's supply chains often utilize child labor, whether it is when the cotton is picked or the factories in which it is spun. The good news is that the fashion industry is responding to this criticism! There are a variety of fair trade clothing options available. Our favorite is People Tree as they have a large selection of beautiful clothing!

© People Tree

These are just four of the hundreds of products made by child labor. Some of the other top offenders include: coffee, tobacco, cattle, bricks, rice and coal. By becoming a smarter consumer we can stop the demand for slave-made products.

Topics: Slave Free Lifestyle, Child Labor