Not into ethical shopping? I’m calling your bluff.
Last year I posted a relaxed, smiling picture of myself in a long-sleeved red tee in front of a calm lake on vacation.
Within a couple hours it had over 100 likes.
My next post was a woman surrounded by heaps of fabric who looked tired and option-less, linking to an article on knowing how to start shopping ethically and end forced labour.
It got like… 9 likes. Total.
I couldn’t help but notice the huge contrast.
Of course people don’t “like” a problem. But this was offering a solution.
And I couldn’t help but think “what if I posted a photo of ME swamped and dirty like that?”
It’s a global economy.
The world has gotten smaller.
And the global economy impacts everything you and I have touched so far today.
The cotton in your shirt might be farmed in China, turned into fabric in India, sewn together in Bangladesh and sold in Canada. And somehow, that’s the most cost-effective production plan.
There are lots of reasons for this, some are good reasons. This is a great podcast series if you’re interested. Pretty fascinating. Bottom line, it’s complicated.
But here’s the thing.
My bet is you are a moral person.
And my bet is you would never:
– buy chocolate from a boy chained to the display.
– buy a shirt from a young mother who is forced to risk her life daily so you can have a deal.
– buy a smartphone from a man covered in blood that had to destroy his town to control the minerals in it.
– buy a coffee from a man who was locked in the cafe and couldn’t leave by his own will.
The crazy part is… I have done that. And you have, too.
We just don’t know when we do it.
We are too far removed from the process of creation to consumption and the thing we’re closest to is the price tag.
So – naturally, we end up caring more about the price than the process.
Don’t believe me? You can find out just how personal your slavery footprint is by taking this survey.
But here’s the thing.
Money approves and affirms.
When our dollars reinforce the supply chain, nothing will change.
But our dollars can also inform the supply chain.
I know this is a complicated economic subject and I can often feel defeated when I try to put a dent in the manufacturing monsters.
And while this isn’t all going to change in a day, I’m also encouraged by what I see. There are brands and products that are conscience of the people in the process.
I think (and hope) the future belongs to those leaders.
Because I believe you and I wouldn’t make purchases the way we do if we could see how it got there.
Justin and I have been working on small ways we, as consumers, can inform the supply chain:
Ask questions before buying.
We’ve called & emailed some of our favourite brands to learn more. If enough customers are asking, it has to eventually turn their head.
You can ask questions like “What can you tell me about your supply chain?” or “How are you involved in the manufacturing of your products?”
Some companies give really “fluffy” answers, but others will give a solid system and action plan. Join us, let companies know this matters to you?
Plan and save for quality, ethically made products to use for many years.
This used to be normal, but in our instant-gratification culture, planning and saving has become an art.
Having to wait helps affirm that we will still appreciate the product months or years later instead of getting tired of it. If we forget or lose interest before we even buy it, clearly we don’t need it.
Curb spontaneous spending.
This has looked different for each of us, but it comes down to having a solid filter we put new purchases through.
Purging our closets and defining ‘essential’ with help of blogs like this one and UnStuff Your Life is really helping us define NEED. The more we can curb the frivolous spending and just buy what we actually need, the better.
By no means are we experts at this. In fact, we are rookies that fail often. But this is important and we are working on it.
Hold us to it, ok?
How about you? What do you do in an effort to buy better?