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Date: November 2002

Good Shopping Guide

The Good Shopping Guide. Ethical Marketing Group

'What’s most worrying about toys, especially the brightest and noisiest of them, is the sweat-shop conditions in which they may be made.'

The newly published Good Shopping Guide is the world’s first comprehensive ethical reference guide to clearly list the behaviour of the companies behind everyday consumer brands.

You can read the surefish review of the Good Shopping Guide here.

You can also find out what the Good shopping Guide says about perfumes and aftershaves, what it says about computers, TV and Videos and Beer, Lager and Cider.

To buy your copy of the book from Christian Aid simply call: 020 7523 2229

Here’s what the Good Shopping Guide says about…

What’s most worrying about toys, especially the brightest and noisiest of them, is the sweat-shop conditions in which they may be made. Most of the toys sold nowadays in the UK are imported – more than half of them from China and Honk Kong, and many of the rest from Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines, where regulations are known to be lax. We also need to be concerned about the use of PVC, which may cause damage to small children when it is chewed.

Working conditions
Examples of the poor working conditions within my factories are unfortunately numerous, from 17-year-olds in china working 11-hour days for just a few pounds a week, to children under the age of 15 making toys until 11 o’clock at night. There was one terrible incident in 1993 when a fire broke out at the Kader toy factory in Thailand. It quickly consumed the building leaving 188 dead and 500 injured. A government study later confirmed that poor safety measures, such as a lack of fire exits and locked doors and windows, had played a major part in the disaster.

A World Development Movement (WDM) campaign has tried to persuade manufacturers to adopt codes of conduct about working conditions in the factories they source from, but with limited success. Some companies do have codes of their own. Mattel’s code promises not to employ forced or child labour, but the most comprehensive code is Lego’s which complies with most of WDM’s demands.

The PVC problem
Greenpeace has long campaigned for a ban on the use of PVC plastics in toys, citing evidence that phthalates (hazardous chemicals added to PVC to make it soft and flexible) may leach out when toys are chewed. PVC also generates hazardous chlorinated emissions and wastes.

Good Shopping Guide ratings

Top rating:
• Bandai
• Lego

Middle rating:
• Hasbro
• Tomy

Bottom rating:
• Bluebird
• Disney
• fisher-Price
• Matchbox
• Mattel
• Tycho

To see how the Good Shopping Guide reached these conclusions, you’ll have to buy the book, which is available from Christian Aid by calling 020 7523 2229