Friday, October 6, 2006

What we can do

On my way home from yesterday's march, I was thinking about Hibi saying that we aren't *doing* anything. I was thinking about the small, local things we can do to change the world.

Re the war-mongering corporations that benefit from war, we can:
1. Stop buying from large corporations as much as possible. Paul recently broke this down into priorities when challenged on it ("the chairs we're sitting on are from China!"): first priority to buy local is food. The number one consumable item that we spend money on is food. Where does your food come from? Are you buying from the huge conglommerates, or from local sources? Mom and Pop or huge factory farms? Farmer's markets are great sources of local, family-farm produced food.

If we stop pouring our money into the deep pockets of the big corporations, then we can start to have an impact on world politics.

Is GAP still the biggest human-rights violators in our country? I don't know if it's true now, but it was several years ago. They'd use factory workers in the Marianna Islands and pay them next to nothing, and because it's a US territory, they could say "Made in USA" on their labels. Anyway, all the clothing empire can be avoided by buying at thrift stores and consignment shops. True, you are depending on other people buying from the empire, but if there's ever a lack of used clothing from those sources, it'll be a good thing.

There are many outlets where you can get good, quality clothing that do not outsource and pay a living wage to their workers. I buy my underwear from Decent Exposures and besides the fact that they are good quality and made by women in Washington state, they are the most comfortable bras I have ever worn.

A few months ago I found Deva Lifewear which has a commitment to fairly-traded, quality natural-fiber clothing. I like their stuff, too!

I haven't got a source for new, large sized jeans yet. If anyone knows of any non-large corporation, fair-trade places to get some, please let me know. I can't find those in thrift stores, for some reason. I may have to stop wearing jeans!

For more info, go to Coop America.

2. Community ties. Do you know your neighbors? Do you get out of your economic class and get to know people? When we lived in San Francisco we made friends with our local homeless people. You know, I was realizing recently that the homeless are our modern-day lepers. You know, how in Biblical times lepers were Untouchables, no one wanted to be near them, and they were shuffled off into their own colonies? Homeless are like that. No one wants to touch a homeless person. No one wants to sit down and talk with a homeless person. It's like they aren't even people in our eyes anymore. Poor people are at least people in our perception, just down on their luck or lazy slobs (depending on our perspective) but they're still people. But we don't consider homeless folks to be people, but something to avoid at all costs. Put a quarter in their cups if it assuages our guilt, but don't make any real contact with them.

I think we need to know our community! Each part of it. When we strengthen our community ties, we strengthen ourselves. We exist in relation to other people, says Orthodox theologian Met. John Zizioulas.

3. Drive less and walk, bike, and use public transportation more. Even if it's driving a little bit less, that's better than nothing. And it's good for you, too!


Mimi said...

Great post! I've requested a catalogue.

I don't know on the jeans, let me think.

karrie said...

Hmm...have you tried freecycle or craigslist for jeans? I buy mine from Eddie Bauer because I need talls, but am not sure how they rate in terms of social responsibility.

Great post. Lots to think about here.

karrie said...

Ok, I checked. Here is there official stand. It seems better than many companies, but I'm always a bit skeptical of these kinds of claims.

global labor and EB

Xenia Kathryn said...

...prayer is a good way to *do* something, too.

Laurie said...

I really enjoyed your post and was glad for the link to coopamerica. I was wondering, though, if you had any more suggestions about how to buy local food on a budget. Clothes are no problem--we shop almost exclusively at thrift stores--and the community ties are coming along in our diverse East Boston neighborhood. Since we don't have a car, we're obliged to walk or use public transport! But I find it really hard to shop mom and pop rather than the supermarket down the street. i get our veggies at a local farmers market (which will soon close for the season, unfortunately), but everything else is big corp. Our grocery budget is about $75 a week. The prices at the locally-owned stores are about a third more (and often for the same old big corp items in the supermarket), and even at the supermarket I find myself looking longingly at the organic local milk and then bypassing it for the mass produced stuff that's a third the cost. Any ideas about how to go organic/local on a fairly tight budget? (Transportation and storage are also issues). --Laurie

Laurie said...

Oh--i forgot to mention that your post was a real encouragement to me to talk to the homeless people in our neighborhood. There are so many in the square just 50 yards from our house, and I had been saying hi but letting shyness/fear keep me from really talking to them like people.