Design EthicsEdit

The future of child labour (Jack Turner)

Child labor, as defined by the International Labor Organization, is “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” The persistence of child labor is one of the biggest obstacles to human rights globally. Child labor perpetuates poverty by depriving children of education and subsequently renders these children without the skills needed to secure the future of their countries.

Due to these facts, in terms of the future of child labour, the main objective for governments and charities is to create a future without child labour. Governments are trying many different ways to combat child labour, one of the main ways that would be most beneficial would be to provide fair wages and safe working conditions for parents so that they can provide for their families without being forced to depend on their children earning money. However, this could prove to be much more difficult than expected – providing working adults in LEDCs with better wages and working conditions would mean fighting against global poverty itself, not just child labour. The main reason global poverty exists is down to workers not being able to earn enough money to provide their family with food and a safe home, therefore to eliminate child labour would mean conquering the worldwide problem of poverty – a task that would be extremely difficult.

To help conquer the problem there are many organisations that stand against child labour and work with governments to try and eliminate it. One of these organisations is ‘The Global March Against Child Labour’ who is making the best effort possible to end the widespread violation of human rights and children’s dignity. They have many goals that they feel they need to, for example:

•       Recommit to ending child labour as one of the organisation’s and world’s top priorities.

•       Establish clear timetables for the elimination of child labour and its worst forms.

•       Closely and objectively monitor progress towards the elimination of child labour as a fundamental part of protecting the rights of all children

•       Ensure that bringing children from the exploitation of child labour into the enlightenment of education is placed to the heart of international development efforts and make working children a priority target group of educational programs

Organisations (Grace Davidson)

Organisations have been created over the years to try and reduce the exploitation of children in the work place. Children are often separated from their families and forced to work for long hours whilst not even earning a large enough wage to live on. Sweatshops are well known for using child labour as means to earn more profit. Walmart, a well-known multinational retail corporation and Puma, a globally recognised sports brand has been accused of using cheap child labour. A report published in 2006 stated that around 200 children (eleven years or younger) are sewing clothes for these brands. The children reported to being “slapped and beaten, sometimes falling down from exhaustion and forced to work 19-20 hour days, 7 days a week”[1]. The International Programme on the elimination of child labour (IPEC) was created in 1992. Their overall goal is to eliminate child labour all together. By promoting policy reform and raising awareness to try alter the social attitudes in countries that are still using child labour in industry they are slowly managing to achieve their target. The Global number of children in child labour has declined by 1/3 since 2000, from 246 million to 16 million children. GoodWeave was founded in 1994 and focuses on reducing the exploitation of children in the rug industry. In 1994 there were over one million children chained to looming machines in South Asia. They were being forced to work over 14 hours a day in order to make affordable rugs for consumers in North America and Europe. GoodWeave has helped bring child labour down by 75% by creating labels on rugs informing consumers that they are child labour free.



Elisa Barkan Quilez

Child Labour


The UN defines child labour as “work for which the child is either too young – work done below the required minimum age – or work which, because of its detrimental nature or conditions, is altogether considered unacceptable for children and is prohibited”. 

According to the Borgen Project, Australia has been found to import $16 million worth of tobacco, all produced by child labour. This includes tobacco that is produced in the U.S. Tobacco cultivation is extremely intense and even dangerous, often subjecting children to grave health risks, such as nicotine poisoning. 

As reported by the ILO, 168 million children are involved in child labour (2013). Out of these 168 million, 85 million are doing what is considered “hazardous work”. 

Harriet Grant explains how in Bangladesh there are 7.4 million working children who fall between the ages of five and seventeen. However, campaigners in Bangladesh have had some restricted success at obtaining a greater regulation in the industry of garment. Currently children under the age of fifteen are not permitted to work and those of age may only work five or fewer hours a day and are forbidden from hazardous responsibilities. However, the main problem is the subcontractors, who are the main employers of children, and are not regulated as the others. There are so many informal industries it is very difficult to establish codes of conduct. Many girls work in private homes, with long workdays and little, or no, access to education. 

In an article sponsored by unicef, The Guardian describes how child labour is especially an issue for fashion since consumer demand is constantly incrementing. Moreover, a great part of the supply chain requires low-skilled labour and many of these tasks are better suited to children than adults due to factors such as small fingers. Children are easy to control and as Ovaa says, “There is no supervision or social control mechanisms, no unions that can help them to bargain for better working conditions. These are very low-skilled workers without a voice, so they are easy targets”. 

Bloomberg Markets Magazine exposed that young children in Burkina Faso harvest some of the cotton retail Victoria’s Secret uses. Also, the Human Right’s Watch reported that up to 20,000 children are estimated to be working in artisanal mines doing labor that is even backbreaking and dangerous for a full-grown male adult. However, some companies, such as Nestlé, are trying to steer towards a more humane direction and agreed to hire a third-party monitor to study child labour in its supply chain. 

Works Cited 

Berg, Matt. "10 Child Labor Facts." The Borgen Project. N.p., 4 Oct. 2014. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. <>. 

Grant, Harriet. "Child Labour Falls by a Third to 168 Million, Says ILO." The Guardian. The Guardian, 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. <>. 

Maki, Reid. "Child Labor Coalition Announce Top 10 Child Labor Stories of 2011." Stop Child Labor. N.p., 13 Jan. 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. <>. 

Moulds, Josephine. "Child Labour in the Fashion Supply Chain." Child Labour in the Fashion Supply Chain. Ed. Jenny Purt. The Guardian Sponsored by Unicef, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. <>.

Impacts on families (Joel Ebanks)

There is bound to be a massive impact on the families who have their sons and daughters participating in child labour. When thinking of child labour you tend just to think of the child who is involved and how bad it is for them, but what about their families, what are they going through, what is the impact on them. From my research collected from the eclt foundation and the international labour organisation (2004) I discovered families who are below or on the poverty line are most likely to force their children into work to supplement their income, they even force them to work with them as they cannot afford to employ others, although this sounds unfair and extreme they say it’s done over the anxiety of their financial future as if they start work at a young age they can filter them into the older generations thus having a job for the remainder of their life, this is seen more important than any education scheme. The family members who cannot work are hit the hardest as it puts extra pressure on the children as they have to work a day job and then also act as a domestic servant. It’s generally taken for granted to have family members help one another whether it being through services, goods or even emotional support however in the homes where child labour is a must these are key elements to keep families together, unfortunately as child labour continue the parent-adult, child dyad dies turning into a workmanship relationship. International journal of sociology of the family 2007 vol 33

How has child labour changed? (Danny Duigan) 

Child labour has been around for a long time now and the first major act affecting it in this country was the Chimney Sweepers Act 1788. This act was put in place to stop children under the age of 8 becoming apprentice chimney sweepers. Also, it required the parents of the child to give their consent to their child working as well as a promise by the master sweep to provide the apprentice with suitable clothing and living conditions. This was a necessary act as it is said that children as young as 4 years old were employed to sweep chimneys due to their size. Many parents would still send their children to work still as they found it more important for their child to make an income as oppose to getting an education. This could be seen again in the early 1800’s when many children were used in the cotton mills and other factories performing dangerous jobs due to their size. By 1821 ‘approximately 49% of the workforce was under 20’ in Britain. Due to the number of injuries and deaths happening to children in the workplace, the Factory Act was formed in 1833. This act stated that no child under the age of 9 should be employed and any child under the age of 13 was compulsorily required to partake in 2 hours of education a day at their factory. These rules were enforced by a factory inspector and this was the start of health and safety and the gradual reduction in child labour. (

The current laws around child labour in Britain are completely different. The youngest a child can be to work part time is 13. Also, until a young person reaches 17 they must stay in some form of part time education or training. These days a large portion of child labour comes from overseas in places that have large poverty stricken areas such as Pakistan and Bangladesh. According to UNICEF, in 2006 there were 7.4 million working children and according to their definition of child labour, 3.2 million child labourers aged 5-17 in Bangladesh. This has been counteracted since as Bangladesh enacted the Labour act 2006 including new laws on child labour. This meant that no child under the age of 14 could work legally and also prevents a young person under the age of 18 from hazardous employment. These laws prevent big well known factories from child labour, however, heavily poverty stricken families still require their children to have some form of income and this can increase the number of illegal child workers. (

How Child Labour Affects the Children (Scott Abraham)

  • It means they're not able to gain an education from a young age which in the short term means they’re unlikely to have social interaction with kids their age. This is a key part of how a child grows up as they’re able to develop and grow together with people of their generation.

  • Often working in poor conditions which could lead to illness both short term and long term. For example those children working in factories without the required health and safety for example in areas of lots of dust and chemicals in the air face masks should always be worn but often aren’t when child labour is concerned.

  • According to Unicef there are 246million children engaged in child labour across the world at this current time. 73% of these are regarded to be in the worst case of child labour, such as working in mines and with machinery. 

  • As well as being refused education often children subject to child labour are frequent victims of maltreatment, physical and physiological violence. This often leads to long term impacts in which they struggle to fit back into society if they do manage to get out of the child labour market. 

  •  Even children who work part-time while studying generally perform 12% lower than those children who can devote themselves fully to their education. The percentage is even lower for those children who work full-time and study.

  • Teenagers who spend more than 20 hours per week working, are at a higher risk to develop problematic social behaviors like drug abuse and aggression. The risks also impact their educational development as they are more likely to perform poorly in school and drop out of the little education they are privy to.

Latest activityEdit

Introduction to Ethics Within the Design Industry

Whilst many individuals may contest one specific definition of ethics, a broader means of exploring it is as a 'rational study of moral dilemmas in, or influenced by, human action'. Ethics within design are capable of covering a vast scope of areas, ranging from the ethics involved in the sourcing of natural materials, to the eventual marketing of a product or service and the ways in which this is catered for a particular target market. In an ever evolving world, some companies are finding it increasingly difficult to achieve entirely "ethical" design as the presence of head-to-head market competition between high market sharers such as Apple and Samsung drive manufacturing costs down in a desperate bid to produce maximum profit with minimum expenditure.  

Whilst this is the case with some companies, many others have embraced the concept of ethical design, placing it as a major USP of their companies and endorsing organisations who work towards encouraging ethical practice within the design and manufacturing industry globally. The industry itself is particularly difficult to police, with industry increasingly being transferred overseas in favour of cheap labour, cheaper materials and manipulation of local tradesmen in order to produce the highest profit margins possible. Despite this, however, several major organisations have become ambassadors for encouraging, and in some cases rewarding truly ethical designs. An example of which is the ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design), whose code of professional ethics are designed to 'advance the quality of the industrial design profession'.  

This design code encompasses many elements, the core ones being: 

a) Recognition of client's objectives- This includes taking into consideration the following elements and ensuring all of these are suitably met, without sacrificing one's own individual morals as a designer: 

  • regard for strategic, economic and technical objectives,
  • appropriate, high-quality and competitive designs,
  • best professional practice,
  • efficient, economic and environmentally-sound production means, and
  • honest business practices.

b) Clarity of contractual agreements- This ensures a designer and their client have pre-agreed costs and relative labour for the project, with an average and realistic budget set out before the project is met to avoid unethical means of labour becoming a last resort where costs are unrealistic.

c) Respect for client confidentiality- This includes in terms of technology, strategy, organisation and business practices. A certain level of decorum within the industry is expected with regards to this, thus avoiding the need for legal disputes between designers and clients regarding copyright, patent or other plagiaristic actions.

d) Acknowledgement of personal/professional conflicts- Before accepting a project, a designer should overview it key intentions and potential societal impacts, however small. There should be a moral obligation to decline a project when one's personal interests and sense of ethics is disputed.

e) Increased efficiencies through the effective application of digital technology in design practice- This should ensure that the designer uses technical aids such as CAD in order to lower the risks associated with product design development.

These, alongside a multitude of other ethical codes, help to organise, understand and in some way control the presence of unethical design practice, with many larger organisations planned to vote on the presence of these codes and their influence within the industry, arguably with a core focus on strengthening their power of policing.

Ethics in Design- A Quick Primer: (Accessed Sunday 11th October)

Code of Professional Ethics: (Accessed Sunday 11th October)

Ethics of deforestation; the effects and the steps taken to minimise destructive consequences

The majority of the wood used in design and manufacture of products is softwood. Examples of softwood include pine, cedar and fir. They are more commonly used as they are fast growing trees and are therefore cheaper than the hardwood alternative, and because they are so fast growing they can be grown of farms which can supply an endless supply of wood, and this eliminates the problem of deforestation.

However, many people prefer to use hardwood in their products as it is more appealing in general to the consumer, and the product can be sold at a higher price. Unfortunately, hardwood grows very slowly and huge areas of forest are destroyed daily to supply this demand. This raises ethical concerns for several reasons. Firstly, when trees photosynthesise, they take CO2 from the atmosphere. When deforestation occurs on a large scale the amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere decreases significantly. Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and more CO2 contributes to the global warming effect.

Deforestation also destroys many habitats and food sources for forest dwelling organisms, some of which are rare or endangered. Every day, approximately “144 species become extinct, due to 2.4 acres of forest being destroyed globally every second” ( this obviously raises many ethical concerns for many reasons, including welfare of species and also the welfare of ingenious people inhabiting the rainforest. 

Ethical sourcing of raw materials

Design not only need to maintain the harmony between people,but also should seriously consider the use of the earth's limited resources , it should be designed to maintenance of ecological balance.

There are some common example in our life, disposable chopsticks,  the producers claim that “our chopsticks are health, and environmental friendly" , but they do not actually care. Because disposable chopsticks are convenient in use, so it cause many people rely on them, and then forest become a victim, this  vicious cycle leading to ecological imbalances, as far as i am concern disposable chopstick is a lack of ethical design. there are many product are made by animals’ horn for instance ivory and rhinoceros horn, elephant and rhinoceros both are rare animals, they should be protected by us rather than embellished or used for our life.

Throughout the entire ecoregion, plants and animals are being extracted from the forest at unsustainable rates. This has already lead to many local extinctions and near-extinctions

A report from WWF state that how ecoregion destroyed by us: Wildlife hunting and collecting by the rural population can supplement their livelihoods, diets or meet some of their medicinal needs. in many cases, local communities, commercial hunters and illegal loggers have more or less open access to forest areas despite their status as protected areas. Species of high commercial value are under the greatest threat of over-exploitation or even extinction from the wildlife trade. These include orchids, golden turtles and tigers. Hunters sometimes seek animals far into remote areas and use extreme methods, such as laying mines and traps. Indiscriminate practices mean that non-targeted species also may be captured.

WWF. June 2015. Threats: Wildlife Over-exploitation. Accessed [09.10.15]. Available from:

Exploitation of employees and deforestation 

Exploitation can be defined as the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work. As designers it is important to know or understand where the resources have come from in order to produce the product. This can include the material itself, i.e. has the material come from a sustainable source, but it can also refer to whether the employees making or producing these materials haven’t been treated unfairly or exploited during the process i.e. have been paid the correct amount for their work.

Many employees, particularly in less economically developed (LEDC’s) countries such as Kenya, are being taken advantage of by large firms of more economically developed countries (MEDC’s) for the work that they do. This is due to the fact that these LEDC’s rely hugely on certain types of industry, such as the coffee bean or cocoa bean industries, as their main source of income in order to boost their own economy. This therefore means, that although employees in these countries don’t agree with exploitation, they are more willing to allow it as they need the source of income. 

Designers therefore should be aware of this to prevent being unethical as exploitation is considered unfair. Designers can overcome this by ensuring the source of materials has come from ‘Fairtrade’. This means the workers that are paid to farm the products are paid a fair amount i.e. at least the minimum wage for their work.

Designers should also be aware of the issue of whether the material is sourced from a sustainable source. This is a major issue that is linked with timber production and deforestation. At the moment, trees are being cut down faster than new trees can be planted. This has therefore created a lack of trees and therefore a lack of timber. It is therefore important to consider whether the timber used to make a product has been sourced from a sustainable management plan to reduce the impact of deforestation. 

Designers could overcome this issue by ensuring the timber has been through a management process such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship council). This organisation along with others ensures that the timber has gone through all the necessary stages to ensure the timber is of a good quality. As well as this, these organisations also ensure new trees are planted when mature trees need to be cut down for use, this therefore reduces the negative gradient of deforestation.

Ethical Labour

Many companies exploit cheap labour overseas, at both the cost to their own country who lose valuable work abroad as well as their ethical standards. Conditions in underdeveloped countries can be less than up to standard, with poor lighting and heating at workstations, workers being forced to work long hours for very minimal pay, as well as the use of child labour. Ethically, a minority of people will avoid certain companies on moral grounds, though for the general masses, people value cheap clothing and other products over a high ethical standard of production. 

A continuous study from the Ethical Consumer, from 1989 to the present day, researches and records social and environmental records of companies, through awarding companies a rating out of 20 in various areas such as; environment, animals and people. As of the May-June 2014 survey, only one company has achieved over half marks, Zara Clothing at 10.5/20. Asda’s clothing range, George is at the bottom of the pile with a rating of just 0.5/20. This shows that many companies ethics fail to reach high standards where these factors are concerned, but are more interested in their profit margins. It also shows that it is not just lower end companies such as Primark (4.5) that have unethical practices but also higher end companies such as John Lewis (6.0) and Monsoon (6.5) whose standards still are incredibly low, despite them charging high prices for their products. 

Ethical Consumer. June 2014. Shopping Guide to High Street Clothes Shops, from Ethical Consumer. [Accessed 09/10/15]. Available from;

===False advertising === ===False advertising also known as deceptive advertising describes the use of misleading, confusing or deliberately untrue statements expressed by a manufacturer when promoting a product. === ===Vast amounts of advertisements deliver unambiguous claims referring to effectiveness, origin, quality, materials used in construction and other factors. There is a great quantity of evidence which suggests some corporations involve in these actions. For example, corporations such as Findus and Nestle are currently awaiting charges due to their previous false labelling of food produce during the most recent European horse meat scandal === ===In most countries deceptive advertising is illegal moreover, companies often find loop-holes in the legal system in order to mislead the consumer. Since advertising can often persuade a consumer to engage in financial transaction, this kind of action is clearly endearing concerning the manufacturer. Therefore, there are laws which can protect the customer from this variety of promotion trough the use of specific legislation. These laws have the function of promoting the truth within labelling of goods meaning that all vital and important information that reasonably, a consumer so know can be seen on the label of the product. Thus ensuring the protection of the consumer furthermore, the fully comprehend what they are buying. ===

 False advertising affects many people in many different ways, all the way from the person who makes the decision to advertise something in an unlawful way or the person who buys the product and feels the effect of false advertising. For starters it effects the owners of products or there marketing team because legal action is always taken if there is a clear case of false advertisement. This brings on legal costs and possibly even fines that could impact the company in huge devastating ways. Then there is the consumer, the person who purchases the product. It could be as serious as them getting a product that they didn’t expect but that is the end of it, however if the product is ethical in anyway, for example medicine then someone could be taking something assuming they will be getting better however it may have no effect on them whatsoever.Edit

===An example of false advertisement is when activia yoghurt fooled people into believing that their product had nutritional benefits compared to other yoghurts on the market. This was not true, they labelled it as clinically and scientifically proven to have nutritional benefits. Dennon were forced to pay $45 dollars and were limited on what they could advertise and how far they could go saying their products had benefits. ===

 Fake ColouringEdit

===The colour of foods that are bought can be deceptive. In certain foods, companies add or cover the food with anti oxidants and phytochemicals that give a deceptive interpretation of the state of the food. A shiny, bright, ripe looking apple is far more likely to be bought if it looks aesthetically pleasing rather than if its in its usual state. Packaging also comes under this unethical procedure. It can be used to deceive the buyer and make it look like what’s inside is a different colour or editing the shape of the food. === ===This article was taken from the daily mail. It goes into detail on how different chemicals are used in packaging and the preparation for goods before they go out on the shelf’s. === ===‘No artificial colours or flavours. No hydrogenated fat,’ it read in large letters on the front. Reassured, I popped the packet in our trolley. === ===But back in the comfort of home, I took a closer look (and I needed my reading glasses for the small print) and pretty quickly concluded that I’d been had. === ===While the packet claimed there were no ‘artificial’ colours, I found — under a tiny heading of colourings — ‘titanium dioxide, cochineal and lutein’, chemical compounds I’d never heard of before (and more of which later). === ===And while it also insisted there were no artificial flavours, why couldn’t I find any real vanilla extract, when the cakes were so clearly labelled ‘with a delicious vanilla filling’? === ===In fact, the number of ingredients in the cakes totalled 35, of which almost none I’d ever heard of before. === ===So far, so utterly confusing. But it turns out I’m not alone. === ===Last week, a survey by consumer watchdog Which? found that food label claims such as ‘pure’, ‘fresh’, ‘non-artificial’, ‘natural’ and ‘real’ are largely unregulated and are confusing shoppers. === ===For example, 33 per cent of shoppers thought ‘real fruit’ meant fruit was the main ingredient (even though this was wildly off the mark); and 43 per cent believed products labelled ‘juice drink’ must contain at least a quarter fruit juice (again, something they found to be untrue, with some juice drinks containing barely 5 per cent juice from concentrate). === ===Read more: === ===Many big companies draw you in by large colourful advertising pictures that are boldly presented and well lit, use bright and contrasting colours and are appealing to the eye. As you can see above the burger they present could not possibly fit in the box above, this is false advertising at its finest. ===

 VW Diesel Scandal:Edit

If you are not already aware, the multi conglomerate that is Volkswagen has been in the press recently due to its false advertisement over its recent range of ‘New era diesel’ cars that offer ‘Extreme efficiency and Ultra-low- sulfur injected fuel’.Back in 2012 VW wowed the market by announcing their new ‘TDI Clean Diesel’ claiming that Diesel cars would never be the same again and their ‘Stinky, smoky and sluggish’ reputation would no longer exist due to their new, incredibly efficient and low emission range. Edit

According to (A company which tracks TV advertising spending) along with their announcement; VW spent $77million, out of their $167million total advertisement spending, on TV ads advertising their low emission cars. Edit

== Not only did they send out TV Ads, but at VW dealerships, the salesmen were using cheesy gimmicks like holding a white cloth over the exhaust pipe for a couple of seconds and revealing it with no marks on it to show the cars low emission rating. An example of some of VW’s advertisements can be found below: VW Low emissions advert Due to VW’s false advertising, innocent customers have been pulled away from the idea of buying hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius and have bought a new VW, thinking that they were extremely low emissions. It turns out that VW have cheated the emissions test on their new range of low emission cars and now face an $18billion fine from America’s Environmental Protection Agency as well as the cost of recalling and fixing 465,000 cars in America and numerous trials in years to come. The Federal Trade Commission are also likely to hit VW hard for their false advertisement on their cars which manipulated the truth to the public. Ref: === === ===Bibliography === === === ==

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