Uzbek cotton and the power of brand boycotts

This recent article, from the Observer, is fascinating.

It’s about big brands boycotting (or asking their suppliers to) Uzbek cotton.

This is because the Uzbek government uses forced child labour to get their annual cotton harvest picked.

This is so it can be ginned and sold, eventually, to textile factories in Asia.

Then it ends up in our clothes.

As the article reports: “According to a range of authoritative campaigners and journalists including the BBC, children work up to 11 hours without protective clothing, adequate rest or water leading many to suffer heat stroke.”

As a result of NGO campaigns and media attention, Tesco, Asda Wal-Mart, Marks & Spencer and Gap are all trying now to stop sourcing Uzbek cotton.

This story is a great example of how brands CAN help deliver progressive change, just by using their combined purchasing power.

Others should join them.

For further reading, check out:

Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF)
“Still In the Fields”

“A hardline on cotton”

“Spinning a line – why the trail of cotton from Uzbekistan needs to be clearer”

“Uzbekistan cotton – A thread of hope in the retail fabric”

“Supply chains – Are big brands improving supply chain labour standards?”

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