There has been a lot of conversation around the garment industry and what it means to purchase clothing “ethically” in our community and around the world, especially since the 2013 collapse of a garment building in Rana Plaza, Bangladesh. While it is good to talk about this issue, it can be difficult to find ways to turn talk into action. What makes the garment industry issue challenging for me is that it is challenging to find ways to opt out of an industry that I depend upon for a basic need – clothing – and opt into… what?
For a long time, the challenge of not knowing how to exchange my buying habits for more sustainable and thoughtful ones kept me from changing anything about the way I did my shopping. I would just try to ignore the guilty feeling at the cash register, knowing that something I was buying was generated by a system that abuses people who are vulnerable, harms the environment, and benefits those who are only seeking a profit for themselves. But after a while, I realized that the system wasn’t changing, and those feelings weren’t going away. I also realized that a lot of other people are in the same boat; we are aware, to varying degrees, of the fact that we are implicated in an abusive industry, but because of a lack of sufficient knowledge of the issues and the uncertainty around what buying ethically looks like, we don’t change anything.
What we’re doing
That is why we want figure out what we can do as a community to change our relationship to the clothing industry and support the growing movement of individuals, organizations, and clothing companies that seek to empower our global neighbors and care for God’s creation. What we came up with is a six-month experiment:
We’re meeting as a group once a month over six months with the goal of starting conversations about injustices in the garment industry and learning practical ways to incorporate ethical choices.
We want to, as a community, opt into a sustainable lifestyle of ethical supply chain choices, encouraging each other until those choices become habits. By building these habits, we hope to reconcile our beliefs and our actions, taking a small step towards a more just system.
What you can expect
Our goal is ultimately to become educated on the issues and to change habits, but we also want to make this fun! We’ll be doing different activities each month, like clothing swaps, teaching quick sewing tricks, and thrift shopping, and we’ll get to support one another in an open, low-pressure group.
We’ll be discussing different topics at every meeting and exploring new ways to change our shopping habits. We’re not just looking to opt out of “The System,” removing ourselves but leaving the injustice to continue; we aim to opt into a way of life that minimizes exploitation and promotes justice and peace for all those whose lives are connected by this global web of garments.
That being said, we have only planned out a handful of the many ways we can interact with this issue. Our community is full of passionate and talented people, and we’re leaving room for you to bring your passions, skills, and perspectives to this experiment. We’re very excited to see where this will take us!
Please for feel to join us at the McNair residence at 6:30pm Saturday, March 19 to find out how you can participate in this exciting opportunity! E-mail Jenni Anvari at firstname.lastname@example.org for directions and more information.
Like what you see here? Join us on Sunday mornings at 10:30 at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington for the conversation and our Q&A.