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How Now Should We Shop? An Action Plan (Issue 26)

“Now that I’ve seen, I am responsible” – Brooke Fraser

Knowing what we now know, we have a choice: forget about it and do nothing, get overwhelmed and do nothing, or take steps towards change. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful to counter our culture’s consumerism while becoming more of a ‘Kingdom-shopper.’

Admit we’re wrong, admit we’re learning. The first step is always admitting we have a problem, but we also need to acknowledge that becoming a Kingdom-shopper is a journey that takes time. Let’s not beat ourselves up if this is new, and let’s not look down on others who aren’t as far along either.

Make small steps. It’s difficult to jump straight into shopping 100% ethically, and rushed change doesn’t always last. Slow but consistent is better than fast but short-lived.

Celebrate the ‘wins’ along the way. Do a ‘whoop-whoop’ or hi-five when you find a new ethical product or a brand making positive changes.

Buy second-hand. Buying used stuff challenges our materialistic tendencies and doesn’t contribute to the demand of ethically questionable products.

Buy local. Locally produced products are less likely to have ethical issues as they’re produced under NZ law.

Stall before buying. Pause before buying anything and ask whether it’s really needed. The higher the cost, the longer the stall (like 30 days for expensive items).

Buy quality. If you need to buy something with questionable origins, buy something that will last so it won’t need replacing.

Research expands options. If we don’t research in advance, we can be caught-out, needing to buy something less ethical or very pricey.Giving ourselves time makes Kingdom-shopping an opportunity, not an inconvenience.

Wear it out. Do I really need the latest iPhone or that new pair of shoes? Let’s be counter cultural by actually using what we buy until it needs to be replaced.

Fair-trade isn’t the only option. Buying exclusively Fair Trade (or equivalent) brands isn’t always possible or viable, but many other brands are making positive steps. I choose to consider a company’s trajectory – are they actively trying to improve? Plus companies are more likely to listen and make changes if I’m actually a customer.

Expect to be frustrated, misunderstood and disappointed. You’ll find many favourite brands fail to meet fair ethical standards. It’s meant no more Hallensteins jeans for me (but thankfully Cotton On is heading in the right direction). And friends won’t always understand why you’ve become picky about where you shop.

Make a tough decision. When Jacob was born I made the conscious decision that my child wasn’t going to grow up at the expense of someone else’s. It’s been surprisingly difficult, but having such a personal (and specific) goal has made compromising much harder.

Make it daily conversation. Don’t keep it to yourself, but journey together with friends or family. Mari and I talk about ‘slavings’ when we see suspiciously cheap products or are tempted to buy something we probably shouldn’t. It may sound crass, but it’s made us conscious of product origins and has made it easy and natural to constantly remember something deeply serious.

Don’t just talk. 90% of Kiwis say we want to shop ethically – let’s actually act!

The remarkable thing is, if you start living and thinking this way, you’ll discover the way you view the world changes. It’s becoming easier to value other people’s freedom than my own convenience, and increasingly difficult for me to enter the temple of the local shopping-mall… and I think that’s a good thing.

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