A couple of years ago I read Naomi Klein’s book No Logo looking at the impact of the fashion industry on the people who produce clothing and apparel as well as the environment. I was struck by the stories of the incredibly harsh conditions that the employees of these companies operated in as well as the miniscule amount of money that they were paid for producing garments that would cost me a fortune to purchase from a shop. Then there was the consideration of the impact of the clothing on the environment with all of the chemicals and dyes utilised in production and the transport of clothes to the final retail outlet.
Then my wife and I began to look at the food we consumed. Where was it being produced, how far was it travelling to get to our table and what impact was it having on the environment in the course of this journey? Then there was the role of the big supermarkets in paying fair amounts to the primary producers of the food.
As we considered all of this, we started to wonder as followers of Christ did we have any obligation to care about this kind of stuff or could we just continue on as we always had, seeking out the ultimate bargain? After all, I couldn’t find any passage along the lines of “blessed are the bargain hunters for they shall obtain the Peter Werth”. Now this was no easy decision as I will admit that I do have a slight issue with shopping and the search for the ultimate bargain and we have a fairly small household budget to work within. And then there were all of the common sense arguments- at least the workers in China and other places have a job and are being paid something, and what difference can we actually make living our lives in Brisbane? Yet these kind of statements couldn’t justify something that nagged at us on the inside. Surely we could do something to make a difference?
So began our “year of living ethically”. Considering what we bought and who we bought it from. Researching the manufacturing and production systems of the companies that we bought from and examining their corporate social responsibility policies to discover how they treated their employees and communities where their products were made. Trying to buy locally owned and made/grown when it came to food and second-hand or ethically-produced when it came to clothes.
Three years on, we’ve created a habit for ourselves of living this way, taking a considered approach to our consumption and its impact. I have no quantifiable evidence that I have made a difference. However, the more I examine this stuff through the internet and talk to friends about it, the more that I discover that we are not alone. There is a growing community of people making choices to act on what they believe which as it continues to grow can’t help but make an impact on this world and the lives of those living in modern slavery.
Ethical Clothing Australia