12/27/2010 01:46 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What Knot To Do

As you might well imagine, I am reluctant to argue with an 18th Century philosopher. One, he is dead so it seems unfair. Two, he is famous, not to mention whip smart. Three, he is French, and I don't speak that particular language.

But we now know that Jean Jacques Rousseau was wrong when he said, "One can buy anything with money except morality."

In today's world, you can simultaneously buy morality and a handmade rug. That's a pretty good deal. With a single purchase, you get to skip going to church (good for at least three Sundays worth of morality), show up a French Enlightenment philosopher (lifetime of bragging rights) and get a useful article of home décor to boot.

The assumption is that you believe that it is immoral or just maddeningly wrong to exploit children as young as 4 years old for 18 hours a day to weave and knot beautiful handmade rugs for sale.

India and Nepal produce one-third of all handmade carpets destined for sale in the United States and Europe (85 percent of the global rug market). A common story in the rug markets is a Nepalese child trafficked at an early age into the carpet factories and then resold at an older age to the brothels of India. Worldwide, 218 million children under age 17 are virtual child slaves.


The good news is that you don't have to part of this despicable market. GoodWeave is ending child trafficking and slavery by certifying that the rugs and carpets under our feet are not woven or knotted by little hands.

"By building both the supply of and demand for child-labor-free rugs, GoodWeave has catalyzed a profound shift in the marketplace. Since GoodWeave's founding, more than 7.5 million certified carpets have been sold in Europe and North America, and the number of South Asian children trapped in illegal and exploitative carpet-making work has dropped from 1 million to 250,000," according to its annual report.

Free markets mean we each have the freedom to make ethical choices. We are blessed and burdened with moral compass. Maybe you can't personally liberate a Nepalese girl, but now you know what "knot" to do.

Next time you buy a carpet or rug, choose from 71 GoodWeave importers and 1500 retailers. Everything you need to know, including where to shop and practical tips for getting a quality rug, is at GoodWeave's Purchase a Rug (morality included).

And while you are at it, tell your friends. And, if they immorally lower themselves by financing another child into labor bondage, call them on the carpet -- your carpet -- your GoodWeave carpet.