Welcome to Fruitful–we love practical ideas about how to live our gifts with intentionality.
No, O people, the LORD has shown you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
I have learned that there are unintended consequences for the choices I make. The food I eat, the coffee I drink, and the clothes I wear connect me to people and places all around the world. It can feel daunting to take ownership of the consequences of my consumerism. How many times have I been careless with my purchases? How have I perpetuated a demand for the exploitation of people and resources with the vote of my dollar?
I remember the first time I heard Brett Dennen’s song Ain’t No Reason. I was riding in the passenger seat of my sister’s car, on the way home from church, letting the lyrics settle into my heart.
They air on my skin in the world under my toes
Slavery stitched to the fabric of my clothes
Chaos and commotion wherever I go
Love I try to follow
Love will come, set me free
Love will come, set me free, I do believe
Love will come, set me free, I know it will
Love will come, set me free, yes
Sometimes the world feels so big and I feel so small. The systems that perpetuate injustice have been long established and I can’t imagine how my life could catalyze any change. I’m tempted to give up before I begin, letting the shame of my ignorance and carelessness prevent me from being more thoughtful in the future. Thankfully, there are so many beautiful and passionate people in the world who have the daring to call others to live a life of love and show us the ways we can speak love through the ways we meet our basic needs. Here are 5 ways to make your dollar have a global impact where your purchases are marked by integrity.
1. Do some research. There are a lot of amazing resources out there that help demystify what ethical purchasing practices are. One resource I found really helpful was developed by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply. They outline different aspects of ethical purchasing practices as well as provide links to other helpful resources.
2. Wear Companies that Choose Transparency. Choose to buy clothes from companies that are open and transparent about their supply chains. When we bring to light the means by which goods are produced we can identify the areas that still need improvement and ways we can advocate for justice and innovation. The Good Trade is a really helpful website with different lists of fair trade options. Here’s a link to a list of 35 clothing companies that conduct themselves with fair trade practices.
3. Invest in Dignity. There are so many talented artisans around the world who use their craft to provide for themselves and their families. How fun and wonderful it is to have the opportunity to encourage others to keep making amazing things as well as promoting sustainable living! One of my favorite organizations is Basha. Basha’s mission statement is to “[create] high quality, unique, handmade products which reflect [their] love for the traditions of Bangladesh while employing women at risk and survivors of trafficking.” Another amazing organization that’s based in the USA is The Giving Keys. They create necklaces that act as reminders to live with intentionality to encourage others. They happen to employ people who are transitioning from homelessness. And there are so many others! Here’s another blog, called the Micah Challenge USA which compiled a shopping guide for the ethical shopper.
4. Eat Sustainably. We live in a beautiful world. It is a gift to be able to see displays of God’s splendor all around us–in the faces of the people we encounter and in the majesty of nature. Let’s celebrate the beauty of the world we live in and advocate for it’s preservation! The Monterey Bay Aquarium curates a list of the most ethical seafood to eat called Seafood Watch. This Bar Saves Lives is a company that provides a packet of life-saving food to a child in need for every bar that is purchased. You eat, the children eat, it’s a win/win situation. Here’s a link to an interesting article written by Siobhan Phillips, a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, that addresses how to eat ethically and affordably at the same time.
5. Re-prioritize. Sometimes shopping more ethically feels daunting because it can be a bit more costly. It can feel like ethical purchasing is a privilege of the affluent. I am not sure what the solution to this problem is. As for me, I am trying to challenge myself to be more accountable for my impulse purchases and to live within my means. Instead of buying things on a whim, I am seeking to become more deliberate with my spending practices and use my financial resources to endorse dignity, justice, and care for God’s creation and my fellow creatures. A classic resource for managing finances is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace programs. Here’s a list of baby steps toward financial freedom that can be found on his website.