It’s mid February already (scary I know)! 2015 is well into full swing and I’m surprised to have already learned a few key things since looking back on my year of 2014. I am sure the learning will continue however a quick list of the most significant revelations are:
I won’t die if I don’t have the latest & greatest things. And I don’t seem to be influenced so easily and are making much more informed purchases.
Family always comes first…no matter what!
The fullness of your life isn’t measured by how many parties you attend, how many friends you have or how big your bank account is.
Social media should be used in moderation…and cautiously.
Technology is great however don’t let it make you complacent…or impatient!
Having a career & a business is a privilege … But don’t forget number #2
Looking through this list even as I type this, I know will resonate with me for a long time to come.
Our family don’t tend to go crazy when it comes to ‘gift giving’ over Christmas. We had decided a long time ago that we didn’t really need presents once all the kids in the family grew up. So for the last 10 years or so, we’ve celebrated Christmas by spending it with family; eating, drinking and being merry. We also partake in the annual ‘Secret Santa’ gift giving tradition.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, each person picks a random name and buys a present for that ONE person only. We also set a limit however I will admit, we all normally exceed the limit a little bit. Normally, each person would also make a ‘gift lift’ suggestion to assist ‘Santa’ and also ensure the purchase of gifts that ‘nobody would ever use’ are avoided. We’re all about saving them dollars and limiting consumption.
Anyway this year, I was really stumped for gift ideas. I didn’t/don’t really need anything. Do we ever? However, I didn’t want to leave a blank ‘gift list’, essentially making my Santa’s job even harder. So I found myself in a bit of a conundrum?! What to do?
Thankfully…with the growing awareness of fairtrade, conscious living, ethical, eco-sustainable brands etc etc (buzz words I am sure many of you have heard of late) there were a selection of great products out there that are not only cool and practical however also give back to worthy causes. So, in the spirit of giving, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite brands for Christmas and even future gifts:
1. Clothe you Neighbour – Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself is a nonprofit brand that lets you decide how 100% of the profit is given based on the cause you care about. Check out their really funky clothes and accessories. I have my eye on the jumper and messenger bag.
2. Days of August – Sustainable designed accessories and jewellery. Their colour wheel necklaces are to die….
3. Sea Shepherd – The classic Sea Shepherd merch that is not only cool…totally worthy of the cause! I am saving for the one piece swimmers 🙂
4. Sseko Designs – Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that hires high potential women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money through dignified employment that will go directly towards their college educations and ensure they will continue pursuing their dreams. Their loafers are a must have.
5. Frank Stationery – For you stationery lovers out there – Frank Stationery: Socially conscious stationery.
6. Sackcloth & Ashes – Homewares – S&A vision – We are a company that sells high-quality blankets in the United States. With every blanket you purchase, we will give a blanket to your local homeless shelter.
Another go-to resource that may come in handy is the ‘Give Generation’ twitter and site that provides a comprehensive list of some of the best, newest and lushest brands available that will surely satisfy your socially conscious + lifestyle needs.
Recently there was a news report on ‘The Project’ @theprojecttv regarding slavery in the world and it directed consumers to a website, http://slaveryfootprint.org/, where you could actually view your own ‘slavery footprint’. It was an eye opener to see how my lifestyle and living inadvertently supports and fuels the slavery trade around the world. Living a relatively moderate life I believed…after all I don’t even own an ipad, laptop and the other horde of gadgets that my generation have acquired…my ‘slavery footprint’ would be minimal.
Of course, I had a sneaking suspicion that my biggest impact would in fact be my love for shopping and the purchasing of brands that may not necessarily take a conscious effort to source and manufacture their products, free from slavery.
I was right! To supportmy living and lifestyle, I had 60 slaves working for me. My biggest impact were the clothing purchases I had amassed over the years. It was an interesting little exercise for me at first however, as I started delving in deeper and researched the devastating affects of slave labour via consumer demand and also the companies that support it, I felt more than a little sick to my stomach to think I that something that brought me happiness and personal satisfaction was at the cost of another human beings happiness.
There are so many opinions out there that certain companies are in fact doing good by giving these communities/people jobs, even if it is well below standard living/employment conditions. Secondly, that these companies are only delivering goods and services, fuelled by a consumer demand.
After reading that opinion, it’s hard for me to not believe and feel the opinion of my own, that companies are just blatantly justifying their part in the slave labour through consumer needs and maintain their inability to make a change through a ‘this is the way it is’ mentality.
However, I too as a consumer, is taking part in justifying my spending habits and not taking action.
Now that I know my part, I am making a conscious effort to reverse my actions and reduce my slavery footprint. How? Well, being that clothing is my biggest contributor in having slaves work for me, the first step is to stop buying clothes that directly or indirectly, support slave labour.
This was a very big decision for me but an easy one. To be honest, most of the brands I buy are all manufactured within countries rife with slave labour. The next step, I have decided to start selling the clothing items from non slave free brands, either via eBay, gumtree or direct to friends. With all the funds I make from selling these clothes, I am going to donate to the slaveryfootrprint.org.
This is just a small step to freeing my conscious but most importantly freeing modern day slaves from slave labour. I am not wanting to point the finger at brands that may still use modern day slaves to manufacture their goods. However, I do hope, like myself, the awareness will cause these brands to take action and hopefully one day, I’ll buy those brands again when they are ‘slavery free’.
We can all do our part to make a difference. Take action today.
Keep an eye out on ebay for items I will be listing soon.