About a month ago I made a quick run to Old N*vy. I'd ripped a hole in my only good pair of jeans and I needed* a couple of long sleeve shirts. I completed the whole trip spending only $25. Good day! 2 shirts and 1 pair of jeans for 25$? That's pretty good! When I came home I held up one of the shirts I bought a looked at it before putting it in my drawer.
*no, I did not need them
Made in Veitnam said the tag. As I read the it I heard the Lord say, "Slaves made that shirt." I rarely hear God's voice in that direct, definite way.
That hit me like a load of bricks. Not kidding, I actually fell on the floor. Its not like I hadn't heard about human trafficking and sweatshops before. Of I had. One of my dearest friends in the world has been passionate and vocal about modern day slavery for a long time (and is currently finishing up writing a killer paper about it), but for some reason I never caught the bug the same way she did. I chose to look the other way. I chose to ignore what was gradually becoming a bigger and bigger pattern. I chose what was easier, cheaper, and more convenient for me than even being willing to look into other options. Even when reading these posts I didn't listen.
But that night (when I was supposed to be working on Greek homework) I was totally overwhelmed. It suddenly struck me that by continuing to buy clothes made in sweatshops and by slaves, I was enabling them, I was, in a strange sense, a slave owner.
Maybe the shirt I bought was made by a child who should have been in school but instead had been up since 4:00 in the morning around dangerous machinery in inhumane work conditions so that I could buy a $4 shirt. Maybe a father was walking home after a seemingly endless week but had nothing to bring back to his family. Maybe he stopped and got drunk instead of facing the situation he was too entangled to fix. Maybe an HIV positive mother held her 3 year old to her breast after making my shirt, giving him the only food she could afford-- exposing him to contracting the same disease. Maybe that's where my shirt was made.
I know this all sounds pretty hopeless, but that's what I was thinking! Thankfully, there is good news to come! I've started looking into fair trade, ministry-minded companies that make beautiful clothing, and I'm here to share them with you!
SoleRebels shoes are made in Ethiopia by whole communities working together and using the resources and the artisanship that they already have. They make about a million different varieties and are a great example of entreprenuering. Can't wait to buy my first pair.
The Hungersite has a bunch of super cute stuff and a lot of it is fair trade and gives back to the community! And, its about equivalent to T*rget prices-- so great!
Marketplace Handwork of India has a ton of coats, skits, dresses, and shirts made by women in India and sold all over the world. They are a non-profit business and employ and empower nearly 500 Indian women!
Global Mamas has clothes made by mamas in Africa for mamas (and everyone) everywhere! Isn't that an awesome name? They pretty much manage their own business and, the super cool thing is, you can find out the name and the story of the women who made your specific purchase!
So cool, right? Knowing the names and the stories of life and progress and opportunity, rather than guessing at the nameless millions being forced or coerced into working in hidden sweatshops.
Thanks for bearing with me, this is just whats on my mind right now and I was super excited to find out how many ministries and businesses there were available. Happy Saturday!