I’ve had this post ruminating in my mind for awhile.
I write it humbly and wishing I could be sitting down over coffee, sharing ideas and opinions together.
Living between several worlds, cultural standards are more observable as I come in as a bit of an “outsider” to both cultures.
While touring Sabahar (pictures from over a year ago) and talking with the company’s founder, I was uber-aware of my own ideals clashing with the way I actually live life.
Sabahar is a beautiful fair trade company.
With silk worms raised by farmers in countryside coming into Addis
girls are modeling the silk butterfly. After they come out of their cocoon, they only live a few days
Miss T looking at a butterfly
women sitting behind spinning wheels,
The kids can interact and spin silk or cotton
We saw boiling vats of natural dyes being added to the fibers
A has her tongue out as she has just eaten part of a crushed up beetle that provides a purple color. I forget why she ate it, maybe because we were told it was safe to eat?
Men weaving at looms, creating patterns sold in the shop.
everyone fairly compensated.
Then I walked down to the shop. Gorgeous. linens, table cloths, pillows, clothes, towels. I pulled out the price tag. Gulp. Compared to prices in the USA, it was actually quite reasonable. The quality was impeccable but I was comparing it to prices I can find at many other local shops in Ethiopia, where things are mass produced (ironically, much coming out of China).
I am the queen of sale racks. I love to shop garage sales while in the US, but it’s hard to find the time or get the kids out the door early so the clearance racks reel me in, season ahead clothes for our kiddos, paying cheaper prices than I can get 2nd hand clothes.
This isn’t wrong and my love of a deal isn’t wrong…but what if my consumerism is? What if choosing to not think where I use my spending influence and about ethics and stewardship is wrong? I recently heard a discussion talking about poverty no longer being described as “living on $1 or $2 a day” but impoverished people not having access to opportunity and rights (education, fair access to courts, laws that work in favor of all people, etc).
I was discussing clothing with a friend from Switzerland, who has very nice clothes, just a lot less. As she was telling me the high price of clothes in Switzerland I told her I don’t like to pay over $4 for a t-shirt for my kids. Very kindly, her husband said, “How can a t-shirt you pay $3 for, be ethically produced? Would that mean someone, somewhere is being exploited?”
Hmm. I don’t write with conclusions or even living out all the things posted below here, I am glad to have my understanding stretched and challenged. Each time I dabble in this arena, I’m intrigued at how so often simplifying choices gives space for creativity in other areas.
I was sent this newsletter (read the whole thing here! It’s worth it and has helpful graphics.) I pulled out a portion below from the Sabahar newsletter. I have not followed every link.
What can you do?
#1 Buy less, buy smart
Statistically, we only wear 40% of our wardrobe. So the money you save (from not buying that extra 60%) you could put back into quality ethical garments.
#2 Buy Fair Trade, artisan made or local brands