This year’s environmental intention came from a conversation about human trafficking in the cotton industry in many countries around the world as well as the poor wages typically given to textile workers in these same countries. At the prompting of my niece, Brogan, and my daughter, Eden, we decided to be part of the solution against social justice issues as well as limit our use in this area, which also impacts the world environmentally by not using resources.
What is our solution? NO CLOTHING SHOPPING for the entire year except at thrift, consignment, vintage stores or from Patagonia or Eileen Fisher, two companies who’ve committed to the entire clothing process being socially just and environmentally aware. [Two Exceptions: I am going hunting with my father in Wyoming this fall, while I will do all I can to buy second hand clothing, I’m not sure in southern California I will find “sound proof” rain gear, so I may need to buy from hunting apparel shop. Second Exception: bathing suits. We won’t be buying used bathing suits but Patagonia has some, which may or may not work for my daughter who needs tween sizes but we are committed to researching companies before buying. What we know for sure, is Justice, which is usually Eden’s go to store for bathing suits, will not be our shopping destination this year]
You may, like many people, be saying, “What’s the big deal?” the environmental and social justice impact has already happened, the clothes have already been made. This is true. However, demand determines how much is supplied for the next season so if we limit our demand, then the supply (the amount ordered) decreases. Here’s the thing. Landfill is real. If you throw something in the garbage it doesn’t just disappear. It goes somewhere, most likely in landfill OR in a container to be shipped overseas to be reused by some poor country for newspapers or plastics, etc. Also, your clothing goes somewhere even if you donate it. We have an excessive amount of clothing that doesn’t have a home. How do I know this? For years, I was on a committee helping the Precious Life Thrift Store and I saw the excess that we, the thrift store had to give away because there was just too much coming in. AND we were only one of four thrift stores in a 5 mile radius. I’m sure we aren’t the only ones who have/ had this problem of excessive donations that couldn’t be used. So I guess for me it comes down to how much is necessary.
Now, I love clothing shopping. It’s like my art canvas. This feels like a huge commitment to actually live this out but already I’m benefiting by this commitment in terms of saving money and time. I’m also having fun focusing on what I have in my closet and mixing it up in ways I haven’t done before. I’m sure the longer I’m committed to no shopping the more it will hurt but for now, I’m enjoying the sacrifice because it matches what I’m trying to become all about — My choices as a consumer doesn’t negatively impact any other human being on this planet.
I’m grateful for social justice organizations all around the world which are starting to bring awareness and attention to this problem as well as be part of the solution. We’re monthly donors to International Justice Missions, an organization committed to helping with the human trafficking issue around the world in many different industries.
I look forward to the fruit I’ll see in both Brogan and Eden as we together learn what it means to choose not only for our desires in mind (what clothing we want) but also have our choices reflect our awareness of others’ desires around the world for a fair living wage and freedom.