Made Without Child Labor

Though its mission remains the same, RugMark, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting ethical carpet production by eliminating the use of child labor in India and Nepal, is slated to launch a new brand, GoodWeave, this fall. RugMark will remain the organization’s name while the brand name will be replaced by GoodWeave.

April Thompson, director of marketing and communications for RugMark’s US office, made it clear that RugMark will remain focused on eliminating child labor, but the organization is expanding its reach to improve adult worker conditions and to institute progressive standards for water and air pollution. “There were multiple reasons to make the switch [to GoodWeave]. We’re strengthening the work around child labor as many of these issues are interconnected,” says Thompson. “We can only make progress on these issues in collaboration with our industry members, and they are very supportive of these changes, and excited to see the program expand.”

Providing workers and children with adequate childcare and schooling effectively prevents children under age 14 from entering the handmade rug industry. A percentage of each certified rug purchase supports RugMark's programs in weaving communities, including educational programs for former child laborers. If inspectors find child laborers working on the looms, they rescue the children, attempt to reunite them with their families, and offer the children the opportunity to attend school, while the manufacturers forfeit the right to use the RugMark label.

Aside from the expanded scope of improving conditions for workers in Nepal and India, the new GoodWeave label is more aesthetically pleasing. Thompson says that the new label has a “more contemporary look and name to complement the beautiful rugs. All members are embracing the new look and the other changes the brand is undergoing.” The brand name “GoodWeave” does not include a specific product in the name because RugMark is interested in potentially expanding its branding to other woven products such as shawls made in Nepal.

Importers of all products certified by RugMark must register all of their looms and are subject to random inspections by Rugmark inspectors. According to RugMark’s website, its inspectors visit an average of 64 looms per day, resulting in a total of 16,000 looms inspected per year. Both exporters and importers must be sign agreements with the organization, and pay a small fee that offsets the costs of both inspections and community programs.

One of the main goals of GoodWeave is to make the process of becoming a member more rigorous and transparent, relying on a multi-stakeholder committee for critical input. In order to achieve this goal, GoodWeave has become an associate member of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance (ISEAL), an organization that focuses efforts on international standard-setting for organizations focused on social and environmental issues. Thompson notes that becoming a member of ISEAL was a rigorous, three-year process to become a member of ISEAL.

“We're the first ISEAL member to tackle some of these issues, namely working with child slavery in an informal sector where workers are very vulnerable to abuse. We look forward to strengthening our operations with ISEAL's guidance,” says Thompson.


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