Under what conditions was this made?   (+5, -1)  [vote for, against]
Classify and audit manufacturing practices

I know, this idea could trigger the development of another UN bureaucracy, but perhaps we get lucky ...
I am wholeheartedly against more government imposed tariffs as suggested in (link), but sometimes I want to know under what conditions some item was manufactured. I can buy cage free eggs instead of the cheapest offer. If I can help chickens to have a little better life, why can't I help people with my buying decision?

On a global level it probably would have to be the UN to set standards and audit manufacturers. There would be many classes like "All workers are 14 years or older", "All workers finished at least 4th grade school", "All workers have health insurance to cover medical cost of at least 10 years average income." Auditors would visit the factories and post pass/fail information on an UN website. Imported goods would have tags to certify which manufacturers were involved in making them. At the website I could look up what their score is in various areas and make that part of my buying decision.

Lot's of room for fraud and bureaucracy here, but you have to start somewhere. Keeping out third world countries because people don't have health insurance won't help them to get health insurance.
-- kbecker, Jan 13 2004

Wrong way http://www.halfbake.../idea/OSHA_20Tariff
[kbecker, Oct 05 2004]

Investors in People
A similar certification scheme. Companies get to display a logo if they adhere to largely meaningless standards on staff welfare and development. [kropotkin, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Fairtrade http://www.fairtrad...at_is_fairtrade.htm
Does exactly what it says on the label [squeak, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Rugmark
Example, for rugs. [Zuzu, Dec 30 2005]

I'm picturing a large tag in the back of my shirt, with the international symbols for child labor, no healthcare, low wages, etc. Our clothing tags are going to have to be a whole lot larger.
-- normzone, Jan 13 2004

Wonderful idea, though it places the burden on the consumer to decide based on the scoring. I don't think it would work because I don't think most people are really concerned about "under what conditions was this made."
-- hangingchad, Jan 13 2004

A good idea, but there are some precedents. There is the "Investors in People" scheme in Britain, where companies get assessed and certified for being nice to their staff. Also there is ISO 14000 certification for companies which shows that the company acted in an energy efficient and environmentally kind way; I'm sure ISO would love to introduce other versions of this for good labour practices.

(I work for an ISO 14000 firm and the only concession to energy-efficiency here seems to be that the toilet lights generally don't work.)
-- kropotkin, Jan 14 2004

What's the name of that one store I went into that one time...? The one that lists all the minutae of what peasants made the stuff and where...?
-- thumbwax, Jan 14 2004

Here I think it's called Ten Thousand Villages.
-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 14 2004

//though it places the burden on the consumer to decide based on the scoring// That's the part I like. It would give consumers a choice. The effect on the market may be slower, but when it comes it would have a lot more backing in the general population.

Back to the cage free egg example, in the better grocery stores in my neighborhood the space allocated to cage free eggs is as large as that for standard eggs. Since grocery stores track their inventory carefully that tells me that about 50% of customers buy cage free eggs. I hope the same will happen with sweaters at GAP etc.
-- kbecker, Jan 14 2004

//There is the "Investors in People" scheme in Britain ...// I got shares in a fund like that. It doesn't do any worse than others.

//Imagines a picture of a child worker with a big yellow smiley-face... // It would certainly be allowed to advertise with being compliant, just like ISO certification is used for advertising in B2B sales.
-- kbecker, Jan 14 2004

There's a project underway somewhere to create a "corporate citizen scanner," where you scan a barcode of a product into this handheld device, and it checks the product on a central database, and lets you know how nice the manufacturers are. I can't find the article though.
-- Detly, Jan 15 2004

[Detley] That would be a useful device. There will certainly more aspects of a business to certify than fit on a small tag (as the first anno already mentioned, buy a sweater, get a towel free). With a scanner the tag would only have to carry basic information like an average score. Details come from your WAN linked PDA (with camera and barcode interpreter) or an in-store reader.
-- kbecker, Jan 15 2004

/...a tag.../

Ah, it’s sad how people have such faith in government.

But tags won’t work. They won’t work, because nobody pays attention to the “made-in X” tags, as it is. All consumers care about is the price, which is why Wal Mart is paving over the landscape.
-- ldischler, Jan 16 2004

No, WalMart are paving it over because otherwise it will rise up and destroy us. Get to work, tree hugger.
-- Detly, Jan 16 2004

Isn't this exactly what Fair Trade do but on a bigger scale?

later - Yes. [linky]
-- squeak, Jan 16 2004

Taxation without representation!
-- MikeOxbig, Dec 30 2005

random, halfbakery