Last spring I was at a human trafficking conference and heard a woman talk about labor exploitation. Until that point I honestly had never thought of labor as something I should care about. Didn't those people need jobs? Wasn't I being a good steward of my resource by buying the cheapest clothing possible? As the session began I had already started thinking about lunch. But the deeper they got into the discussion the more I started to care and the more I started to care, the more I wanted to know. By the end of the session I was brought to tears when I learned of the massive amounts of abuse happening right here in the L.A garment district where I had always prided myself in finding a great deal. Sex trafficking was horrible, but I wasn't part of the problem. The orphan crisis was horrible, but I was already in the adoption process. But labor? I couldn't escape that one. None of my usual go-to guilt erasers applied here. And it bothered me. A lot. My closet full of $5 tee shirts bothered me. The fun of black friday shopping for things I didn't need bothered me. Buying something new to impress other people bothered me. Justifying purchases of clothing I knew I'd only wear once because it was such a great deal bothered me. I was a part of a really big problem. And it bothered me. A lot.
We started our journey slowly over a course of months simply thinking about how we could incorporate thoughtfulness into our lifestyle through our purchases. We didn't exactly know what we were doing and I assumed it meant I'd be wearing lots of ugly clothes made out of hemp. I also assumed it would be crazy expensive, inconvenient and impractical. I began to notice items on blogs I'd read and think "I bet there is a more thoughtfully produced version of that" and then started looking for those items. Slowly, by finding the new and improved social enterprise version of fair trade companies, I realized that there were so many great companies I was overlooking simply because I'd never heard of them! Naturally, as a blog reader, I started looking for ethical fashion blogs to add to my dailies. What I found were hundreds of "ethical" fashion blogs that praised products that treated animals and the earth well. But there was a massive element missing. A human element. I vividly remember telling my husband "someone really should start a people friendly lifestyle blog"...and two weeks later we purchased the domain for Let's Be Fair. As much as I love reading blogs I never thought of starting one because I am horrible with computers. Fortunately I have a husband who is not only crazy gifted with computers but absolutely crazy about using his gifts to make a difference in the world. When I told him about what I wish I could do he got right behind it and decided it would be something we'd do together. I don't think most people realize when they read this super girly blog that there is a man behind making it so lovely. But that's the beauty of this movement really. It's a bunch of people, doing what they can, in their own way, to create little changes, that turn into big changes, that turn into movements, that change the world.
Our blog is often silly and lighthearted. We talk about chocolate and lipstick and shopping. As a social worker in real life I sometimes feel guilty that I'm not making a loud enough statement against injustice. But I think the hardest part of this blog is the level of accountability it provides and the fact that it reminds me daily just how much effort I put into seeking my own comfort. Shopping thoughtfully isn't hard because things are hard to find. The internet has changed that forever and it's just not a viable excuse anymore. Shopping thoughtfully is hard because it doesn't stop at shopping. It might start there but eventually it becomes a lifestyle that is completely counter cultural. It says "no, you can't have everything you want", "no you can't have it right away" and "no, you can no longer pretend that the decisions you make only effect you". It ruins you a little bit in an annoying, freeing, frustrating, wonderful kind of way.
We are far from perfect. As I write I am reminded of the purchases I've made this year that I just flat out shouldn't have (mint capri pants anyone?). I'm reminded of the actual tears I've cried over not being able to get something I wanted because the ethical version was so outrageously out of our price range. Actual freaking tears. Gosh. This is a journey and we are just at the beginning but we are so grateful to be here. Thank you for all the support, thoughts and input you've shared with us this past year. We feel really fortunate to get to be a small part of your journey and thank you for being a big part of ours.