Holiday shopping season is already well underway. In fact, if you haven’t started putting your credit cards to use and checking gifts for loved ones off your lists, you might feel behind already. This year, Christmas-gift-purchasing Americans said they expected to spend an average of $831, according to Gallup—no small expense for most of us. And nearly one in three of us expects to spend $1,000 or more on Christmas gifts this year.
But there’s a dark side to the enthusiastic holiday gift-buying and giving that a majority of us doesn’t realize: many of the gifts we purchase to wear, eat, or use on a daily basis are made by the tiny hands of exploited child laborers aged anywhere from four to 17.
On six continents, in more than 70 countries, child labor contributes to the production of more than 130 categories of products—many of which will sit wrapped in foil and ribbon under American Christmas trees later this month.
Popular products that are gifted during the holidays such as diamonds, electronics, gold, and leather are produced by child labor in dozens of countries under some of the harshest conditions.
Around the world more than a million children are toiling in dangerous mines producing metals like gold and tin and lesser known minerals like cobalt and tantalum that end up in our cell phones and other electronic gear. Children also work with caustic chemicals in leather tanneries—another dangerous job.
In addition to those expensive gifts, food products such as coffee, hazelnuts, and sugar cane are items that end up in classic American holiday treats like the gingerbread cookies and flavored lattes that we treasure with friends and family this time of year.
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