Online consumers are being offered a new internet software programme that allows them to sidestep clothing products from brands that may employ child labour in their supply chains.
The free plug-in, called aVOID, has been created using data from the German-based Active Against Child Labour campaign. Once installed, the plug-in automatically checks any products in consumer searches against the Active Against Child Labour database, then hides those that are tagged as being associated with child labour. This means that ‘questionable’ products are not seen by the user.
After the first couple of weeks in operation, the software, which is available at www.avoidplugin.com, had already excluded 1.25 million items from product searches carried out by those who have downloaded it.
The plug-in will initially only work for a handful of online shops in the US, France, Germany and the UK: Asos, Yoox, Amazon, Target, Macys, Zalando, Google Shopping, Frontlineshop and Otto. However, the plan is to increase its range as and when it grows in popularity.
Although the aVOID website does not list companies that are excluded from searches – or provide reasons for their exclusion – it does publish an ‘open list’ of brands it believes are free of child labour in their supply chains. They include: Abercrombie & Fitch; C&A; Deckers; Disney; Fruit of the Loom; H&M; Inditex; Lego; Levi Strauss; Louis Vitton; Next; Nike; Ralph Lauren; Timberland; Victoria’s Secret, and Walmart.
aVOID said the plug-in had been produced as ‘a quick and effective way of protesting against child labour’ and to make it easier for consumers to boycott products without having to do the homework themselves. It also claimed that by attracting hundreds of thousands of users across the globe, the plug-in should ‘force manufacturers to tighten up their control procedures’ on child labour.
However, business interests are likely to want to know more about the methodology behind the database. aVOID states only that brands on its boycott list are ‘suspected’ of using child labour and that the products are ‘questionable’. It also fails to mention whether brands are given credit for their efforts to stamp out child labour, which is notoriously hard to eradicate from developing world supply chains, or whether the appearance of any instances of child labour in supplier factories automatically excludes a company’s goods from appearing in searches.