Natural stone is a popular choice for many homeowners who are looking to pave their gardens due to its attractive and durable qualities. Natural stone makes a great alternative to concrete and has been used throughout the UK for hundreds of years. Indian Sandstone, in particular, has become a popular alternative to York Stone which is quarried in the UK due to its similarities and lower price tag. However, whether this stone is ethically sourced has become a huge issue in the paving industry in recent years.
Every year, 250,000 tonnes of sandstone are shipped from the Rajasthan area of India to the UK, ending up in driveways, patios and pavements. This makes India one of the world’s largest stone producers and accounts for around 27% of the world’s production.
As much of the UK population enjoys their lower priced stone, they fail to realise that India is also home to more child labourers under the age of 14 than in any other country in the world. 38% of the children in Rajasthan’s Kota and Bundi districts are reported to work in the region’s sandstone quarries. Many of the children are uneducated and trapped by debt – they earn as little as £1 per day and are exposed to harmful dust and gases all day, every day. Most of the families who work in the quarries also live in the surrounding area and so are always exposed to these dangers. The average lifespan of a quarry worked is just 40-50 years due to the lung problems caused by working in the quarries.
The sandstone trade exposes children to intergenerational cycles of poverty. Lack of education, awareness of human rights and other alternatives has meant that generations of families have become trapped by the sandstone trade and have no way out. 75% of the children work to supplement their family income and many take pay advances or loans from their employees in order to survive. They then work endlessly to pay off the debt and, if an older male member of the family dies, the debt is passed down.
Large sections of the gardening industry are turning a blind eye to the use of child labour in the sandstone quarries in order to maximise their profits.
In addition to child labour, importing Indian sandstone also contributes to increased carbon emissions. Importing the stone from India is responsible for five times the carbon emissions of the stone quarried and transported here in the UK. The carbon footprint of Indian sandstone is calculated to be around 437g of carbon dioxide per tonne of paving from the quarry to the customer.
Why Buy British?
At Yorkstone Supplies, all of our products are sourced directly from our own quarry in Halifax. Our stone is ethically sourced and we comply with K standards and regulations. Our stone is high quality, attractive and durable. York Stone looks more attractive with age and provides a long-term solution. Indian sandstone can be porous and so wears faster and will need to be replaced more often. York Stone has been used for hundreds of years to pave some of the UK’s biggest cities so we know its hard wearing and long lasting!
Reclaimed York Stone is another great option. It’s already worn look adds a vintage look to any project and produces far less carbon emissions than brand new York Stone. We supply reclaimed York Stone from a number of sites and always ensure that it is of high quality.