I sat with my friend-- her name is Sarah, but we ought to call her the Tormentor, because she's always teasing me about something or other (with ample reciprocation, mind you)-- on a bench at her family's orchard. We were tying short strips of fabric onto longer, knitted pieces, making rag-tag scarves, fluffy with color. We were doing it for her older sister Elizabeth (affectionately dubbed Zab) and her company, Liz Alig.
Sarah the Tormentor was telling me about a most interesting bet. Zab had bet Sarah couldn't stand buying only fair trade and recycled clothing, and next time Sarah bought something that wasn't fair trade she would have to buy Zab whatever shirt she wanted, and Sarah said "heck I'll take that bet."
Her family . . . the girls are rather stubborn creatures.
That was about three years ago. (Or four.)
Sarah and Zab are still going strong . . . and not only that, but listening to them talk about the benefits of fair trade really makes me think.
I don't pay that much attention to my clothes except how they look. I've never really had to. I mean, I'm a stereotypically privlidged teenage white girl in suburba. Why would I have to?
But listening to Zab talk, listening to her tell stories about these countries she's been to-- these women she's spoken to-- it makes one stop and realize.
I have a much larger impact than I ever imagine-- and more than I cared, before meeting Zab and Sarah. But really, have you ever thought about the women and children who are paid so little in sweatshops in order to mass produce your Hollister sweatpants or your Aero t-shirt?
I attended a seminar on human trafficking this evening. How many of those workers were stolen from their homes or coerced into slave labor? How many articles of clothing do I have that are seeped with the blood of girls my age, younger than me, on the other side of the world forced into this line of work?
That's not okay.
It's not okay to take advantage of another's pain simply because it's convenient.
I've decided I'm only purchasing free trade or recycled clothing from now on. Because those girls and boys half my age, sore from hours of bending over heavy machinery? It's not okay for them.
So it's not okay with me.
I'm making a change. Not a huge change, because most of the clothes that I have are either hand-me-downs from friends or bought from second-hand stores-- but it is a change.
And it's necessary. Even if my decision doesn't seem to effect anyone, perhaps Sarah and I, Zab and the people who support Liz Alig and the lovely women across the globe sewing her merchandise for fair prices-- perhaps all of us, put together, can change something. Maybe we can start a movement.
We can try, anyway.
Christina Kuri Icarus