Counterfeit handbags, shoes, jewelry and accessories are not only illegal, they can be toxic to the economy, environment, and even your health. According to CBS New York, the sale of counterfeit goods accounts for a detrimental $250 billion industry. Here are 6 reasons, the price simply does not justify the purchase:
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1. Child Labor
The counterfeit market relies on cutting corners to maximize profits – this ideology, unfortunately, applies to every aspect of counterfeiting process. Counterfeiters do not abide by the standard government regulations put into place with the intention to protect workers. Employees assembling counterfeit goods are often children, working for less than fair wages, in less than acceptable conditions. It is not uncommon for these underage employees to be sent by their families to live and work in counterfeiting factories in order to help provide for their impoverished families back home.
2. Counterfeit Goods Fund Illegal Activity
Many counterfeit operations are created as a front to launder money acquired from criminal activities. Most often, organized crime networks operate many illegal activities all at once and use the sale of counterfeit goods to either launder money or generate funds for other criminal activities like the drug trade, human trafficking, sex trafficking, robbery or terrorist activities. All of these activities hurt both local and global economies as well as cause severe injury and harm to basic human rights.
To make matters even worse, the factories themselves force unsafe working conditions upon their employees. Workplace safety is of no concern and many serious injuries often occur while on the job. Protective clothing such as masks and gloves are not provided to employees and therefore they work unprotected from toxic chemicals, dyes and unclean air quality clouded with dust, fumes, or even fabric particles from sewing, cutting or distressing fabrics. Exposure to these elements can cause serious long term illness.
4. Health Risks and Disease
One of the most common health issues caused by poor working conditions is Silicosis, a respiratory disease that can lead to death if left untreated. Silicosis is the result of silica dust particles entering the lungs and is most frequently acquired from sandblasting materials to achieve a ‘distressed’ look (that’s right – the faded jeans that literally everyone wears). In 2009, over 20,000 workers suffered from this disease (due to workplace conditions) in China alone.
5. Negative Environmental Impact
Looking at the issue from an environmental standpoint, counterfeiting factories do not dispose of their waste properly or in accordance with any regulation. Surrounding communities can feel the effects by becoming unknowingly exposed to toxic chemicals in their air, soil or water sources. Again, potentially leading to long-term illness and environmental issues.
6. They Can Kill You.
Counterfeit goods can be hazardous to your health. The technical construction of counterfeit goods is under par at best. Materials used to make fake handbags, shoes, clothing, and accessories are often completely toxic! This is primarily concerning when counterfeiting children’s apparel, though the toxins can most certainly affect adults as well. Lead paint can often be found in counterfeit goods which are highly toxic and can be deadly if ingested or if the child puts their hands in their mouth after coming into contact with the product containing lead paint. Many of the fake handbags, shoes, and accessories that we have seen over the years have a pungent plastic-like or even gasoline-like odor to them. This can undoubtedly be bad for not only your health but also the environment.
Currently, trade in counterfeit goods is estimated to be a $500 billion dollar global industry. By the year 2025, it is predicted that the global economic loss due to counterfeiting could reach $2 trillion dollars annually. In 2005, customs performed 8,000 seizures of goods valued at more than $92 million. In the United States alone, it is estimated that 750,000 jobs are lost each year due to counterfeit goods.