Today, I'm not wearing my dress. Today, I can go shopping. For the past year, the only clothing items I've purchased have been some tops used for a dance costume and a pair of shoes for my chemistry lab. Why? Because during my year with the dress, I wanted to rely on borrowed or donated items as a way to learn to flex my creative muscles. But now, shopping isn't as simple as it used to be. Last night, I calculated my Slavery Footprint once again. The folks over there have created a short survey that can estimate, based on your habits and the things you own, how many slaves work for you. My result? 35. Thirty-five human beings, made in the image of God, forced to work so that I can have access to the things I want easier and cheaper.
In my economics class last year, we talked a lot about cost-benefit analysis and rational decisions (see? I was listening!). The thing is, any decision is rational if the decision maker believes that the benefits are greater than the costs. And so the decision to buy things made my slaves can be, though morally and ethically wrong, a rational decision. Until we begin to believe that the cost--their lives, their freedom--is more important than the benefits we reap, things are never going to change.
But once we recognize that the cost is much, much higher then the benefits, what can we do? Where do we begin? When you finish your Slavery Footprint survey, you can then join the community there and take action by asking brands to adopt fair labor practices. Ask them to sell products that are Made In A Free World. But there's more, too.
During the next four weeks, I'm going on a journey to rebuild my wardrobe after a year of not shopping, but with a twist: I'm not going to buy anything new. Every item will be second hand. Reducing our Slavery Footprint doesn't have to be difficult, and it doesn't have to be expensive. It's why I'm heading out to the thrift stores today instead of the mall--because then, the money from my purchases will be going to a good cause and not becoming a part of the slavery cycle.
So that's where we're headed next: practical ways to build up (or rebuild) your wardrobe--completely second hand. We'll probably talk about some other ways to reduce our Slavery Footprints as well. On Monday, we'll get this series started. But for now, you can head over to slaveryfootprint.org and take the survey. How many slaves work for you?
P.S. I thought it would be fun to share my first non-dress outfit with you. Plus, today seemed like the perfect day to wear my This Shirt Frees Slaves shirt since it's Human Trafficking Awareness Day.