Apple—beloved by hipsters + liberals (etc) everywhere—admits to using child labor.

Via on Feb 28, 2010

It’s a sad day. I just found out my beloved Macbook Pro may have been assembled using child labor.

Even worse, over 60 employees that work in an Apple factory were recently poisoned (and at least one died) from n-hexane. I didn’t know what n-hexane does or why it’s used in my computer, but I know it doesn’t sound good. A quick Google search tells me it’s a toxic chemical illegally used sometimes for sterilizing purposes. It causes muscular degeneration and can make one go blind. Yeesh.

Read the Telegraph article about Apple’s recent admission here.

I used to be pretty involved in the anti-sweatshop movement. The vastly interconnected global economy makes this an issue that, however much we want to pretend it is, is not black and white. Yes, providing jobs to the people that need them in impoverished parts of the world is a good thing. But, as consumers in the West, it’s our duty to be conscious of the factory conditions in which our products are made in. We must always be pushing the corporations into setting and enforcing fair and just standards in these factories.

Although I’m not trying to make Apple come off as angels here—though I’ve pathetically bought into the Mac brand and lifestyle—the fact that Apple itself has uncovered and admitted to the illegal use of child labor in their factories is a big step and sets them a world apart from many other companies.

But, if there is one thing that we know about Apple, it’s that they have built much of their recent success on that brand and lifestyle, not just their products. This has arguably worked so well for them because the young, borderline hipster demographic that they owe much of their success to is utterly obsessed with image. If this progressive and relatively conscious consumer bloc’s lifestyle is connected to child sweatshops, Apple could soon find its spic and span brand in a whole lot of dirty trouble.

Bottomline: young, active consumers have an enormous amount of power at their fingertips (and not just on their iPod Touch). If they choose to use it, they could vastly improve, and possibly save, the lives of young workers across the globe.

~

An only-slightly-related Bonus:

About News

Andrew Whitehead is a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in Environmental Studies. He grew up in the grand country of Ireland, which is probably where he began to develop his exquisite beer palate. After moving to Wayne, Pennsylvania, Andrew became seriously passionate about the environment and strives to spread his awareness with anyone willing to listen. In his free time he loves to play hockey and soccer as well as go hiking. All that know him well fear his obsession with goats will land him a staring role on the well-known American TV show “Hoarders”.

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8 Responses to “Apple—beloved by hipsters + liberals (etc) everywhere—admits to using child labor.”

  1. Valerie
    Holy crap, wth!! Is nothing sacred anymore!!? ;)

    Ashley M
    You may want to read Apple's response to this. They are making good changes, they aren't blind to this. In fact, their auditors are the ones who found out all of this info. See their response –

    http://images.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/pd

  2. Thanks for bringing this to light. I do give them credit for coming clean themselves on this one…and I hope to see good change coming. I guess this is the one bright side of getting audited: Exposing your accidental use of illegal child labor.

  3. Steve says:

    I mean, if I had a nickel for all the times I exposed my accidental use of illegal child labor I'd be rich…

  4. via http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal
    Valerie
    Holy crap, wth!! Is nothing sacred anymore!!? ;)

    Ashley M
    You may want to read Apple's response to this. They are making good changes, they aren't blind to this. In fact, their auditors are the ones who found out all of this info. See their response –

    http://images.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/pd

    elephantjournal.com
    Yah, read the article, Steve F's pretty kind.

    Thomas
    //dislike

    Ashley M
    Yeah, it's a good article. I just didn't want people getting the wrong idea. I am usually the one jumping on the no sweatshop bandwagon but it seems like Apple does care, would be receptive to user feedback and I bet we will see them making more and more positive changes real soon. Thanks for posting this article.

    Andrew H
    and here I thought is was made by Unicorns…

    Tashina F
    From Guy, What do you expect when your beloved Mac says Made in China printed on the box or printed on the label of your i Phone. You CAN change that you know…

    elephantjournal.com
    On a more inspiring note: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/02/steve-jobs

    elephantjournal.com
    Thanks, Ashley, for your research + fairness.

    Sean M
    you pay extra for that

    Rachel Z
    Thanks for bringing this to light. I do give them credit for coming clean themselves on this one…and I hope to see good change coming. I guess this is the one bright side of getting audited: Exposing your accidental use of illegal child labor.

  5. [...] so-called eco-responsible, liberal-loved companies—Apple, Whole Foods, prAna, Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Nau—make/get their stuff in China, Vietnam… [...]

  6. [...] Apple admits to using child labor [...]

  7. Exceptional site, where did you come up with the knowledge in this article? Im pleased I found it though, ill be checking back soon to see what other articles you have.

  8. Sure, it's good to start with our own glass house, before we throw stones about…still, I personally see this as a conscious consumerism issue, which is about my individual responsibility if I buy and support Apple with my hard-earned bucks. And, hopefully, Apple will take note of their demographic's passion and be inspired to change.

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