Becoming a responsible consumer takes thought and a little bit of time.
What do you think about when you buy new clothes? Probably you think about fit, the color, the style, and maybe washing instructions. Almost certainly you think about the cost — whether or not it’s a good value. But what about the human cost? Who makes the stuff that fills our closets and our homes? Where do they live? How are they treated?
With this month’s focus on Justice, we thought we would give you a few ideas of how to be a responsible consumer and part of the solution. Here are few things to keep in mind as you make those purchases:
- Shop local. Supporting local merchants and craftsmen helps build your local economy by making an investment into your community. Plus there is that great feeling of walking into the business and being treated as though you are family, knowing exactly where you stuff has come from. From produce, to clothing and housewares, the opportunity to shop local is everywhere. It just requires a little more effort.
- Shop the source. With the evolution of the internet, we have more access than ever before to handmade goods directly from those who made them. Websites like Etsy and Big Cartel are great resources.
- Shop responsibly. Check to see if the stores you shop or the products you buy have published policies about social responsibility either posted in store or on their websites. Details such as the company/manufacturers position on child labor, forced labor, minimum wage, overtime and rights of workers.
- Shop fair trade and from merchants committed to the solution. For the last Women’s Retreats, we’ve purchased gift bags from Freeset, a fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. A portion of our purchase went to help these women. There are so many companies out there who give portions of their profits to help. Here are just a few:
- Punjammies. With ever purchase of these lovely pajamas the dignity and freedom of a woman is reinforced and the future in India gets a little bit brighter
- Fair Trade USA is a great starting place for figuring out how to shop fair trade.
- 31 Bits uses fashion and design to empower people to rise above poverty in Uganda.
- Ten Thousand Villages is a global network of social entrepreneurs working to empower artisans in developing countries.
- Abort 73’s mission statement starts off with this: Motivated by our Christian calling to establish justice, to expose evil injustices, to minister to the needy and helpless, and to extend love to every human person, Abort73.com aims to expose the practice of abortion as an injustice of historic proportions. One thing they do is make really cool Tshirts that creatively and comprehensively educate people about the injustice of abortion, and provide them with simple tools to help pass that education along to others. Every Tshirt’s proceeds go towards the marketing, maintenance and development of Abort 73.com.
- Do you really need it? Jesus said in Matthew 19:21 (MSG): “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.” The implication here is that less is actually more. The less stuff we have, the more freedom we have to drop everything and follow his leading, wherever that may be. Ask yourself: Do I really need this? Can I make something I already have work in this space? Should I wait and save so I can buy something of better quality that may last longer?
If you’d like to read up more on this topic, check out these helpful links: