How many slaves does it take to run your life? There's an app for that


And you thought your carbon footprint was bad: How many slaves work for you?

A new project called Slavery Footprint charts how much of your life depends on forced labour.

For those inclined toward self-flagellation, a snazzy online survey poses 11 questions about your lifestyle, including diet, clothing, toiletries, gadget obsession and car use. An online calculator tabulates how many slaves were likely involved in making the products you own, from that beloved cardigan to your indispensable smart phone.

The score is based on where raw materials originated (think Uzbekistan cotton in T-shirts and tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo sitting inside a laptop) and how the products were manufactured. Slavery must be known to happen to “a significant degree” at some stage of production, reads the website, launched this fall.

So far, Slavery Footprint has a database of 450 popular consumer products: Cars take 9 slaves, smart phones 3.2 and diapers 1.9, meaning carless, baby-free technophobes can pat themselves on the back – unless they’ve got a closet full of sweatshop threads.

Users can compare scores via social media and download an app that lets them look up products as they shop. While Slavery Footprint claims to be “brand agnostic,” if users are really gung ho, they can collect “Free World points” akin to carbon offsets when they grill brands about forced labour in their supply chains.

Estimates of slaves worldwide vary, from 4 million to 27 million, according to the U.S. Department of State’s 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report. Slaves are defined as people forced to work without pay under threat of violence, thanks to conditions that include poverty, crime and corruption.

While many major brands have tried to battle sweatshops in developing nations, the raw supplies are still an issue, said founder Justin Dillon, who created the site in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Mr. Dillon’s got 50 slaves.