Slavery in Cotton

CottonBy Patricia Jurewicz, Director, Responsible Sourcing Network

Modern slavery is shockingly rampant — estimates of people trapped in forced labor range from 21 million to as many as 46 million. Slavery is embedded in the supply chains of nearly every industry, making virtually every consumer and investor an unwitting participant and beneficiary. We’re tackling slavery in the cotton industry with an initiative that equips global brands to eliminate from their supply chains co on produced with forced labor. In May, we embarked on a fact finding mission for our YESS initiative (Yarn Ethically and Sustainably Sourced), visiting several spinning mills in India to learn about their cotton sourcing practices and how they manage their inventories. YESS is a practical tool to enable signatories to RSN’s 2011 Cotton Pledge — currently over 270 brands worth over $1 trillion in market capitalization — to move from a position of “not knowingly sourcing” cotton produced with forced labor to actively “knowing, and not sourcing.” As in countless other situations, in this case, knowledge is power.