Intelligent consumption. Is there such a thing? I suppose there must be such a thing. We all consume. Consumption in and of itself is not inherently evil. A human must consume food to live. If one gives, another is consuming that which is given. The basic idea of consumption is not bad even though language in different Christian conversations promotes either excessive consumption based upon a terrible understanding of God’s desire to “bless” humans or the extreme opposite idea that any and all consumption is evil.
How often do we really think about what we buy? What we put into our bodies? What we fill our lives with? Every time I make a purchase I’ve been considering, “How has/does/will this purchase effect those around me? Is anyone being marginalized or hurt do to my purchase?” I may know the name of a country from where a product was manufactured or sown but I don’t know the working conditions of those who helped produce that product. I do not know the process for harvesting the resources that compose a product nor how that process effects the earth and/or other humans positively or negatively. Are my purchases enslaving a worker in terrible conditions or stimulating a nation’s economy and sustainability? In my journey to become a more responsible and good consumer I am going to offer some ideas that I have recently (or not-so-recently) been practicing:
1) Drink water.
It is common for a soda, lemonade, or tea to cost $1.49 – $2.69 when ordered at a restaurant. Order water. Add a lemon. Your two year old daughter might eat the whole thing. Plus, 2 drinks at $3.98 adds $.60-$.80 in tip to your bill.
And don’t drink water from a bottle unless it is a reusable bottle that you fill with tap water. If all the money used for the production and distribution of bottled water was reallocated toward well digging and filtration, clean water could be provided for every human being in the world. I’m glad my daughter doesn’t have to drink disease infested water. Aren’t you (that is, if you have a daughter… or if you love my daughter)?
2) Buy Puma (or Toms).
We all wear shoes. Well, some of us wear shoes. Many in the world need shoes to prevent disease from entering their open sores, blisters, and raw skin that exist due to lack of foot protection. I stopped in the Puma store at Easton a couple of days ago and found out about a program called Souls for Souls. Here’s the deal: Take any used pair of shoes into a Puma store. When you donate those shoes to be distributed to those in need of shoes, you receive 30% off your shoe purchase. I found a very nice Speeder Mesh II shoe for $62 that ended up costing only $46.44 after tax (I refuse to pay more that $50 for a pair of shoes and prefer the $30-$40 range). I am considering taking in an old pair, buying a new pair at 30% off and immediately donating that new pair. Thoughts?
I also have a pair a Toms that I received at a leadership conference. They are very lightweight. Check out tomsshoes.com. For every pair of shoes your purchase, a new pair will be given to a child in need.
3.) Drink Socially Conscious Coffee.
OK. You’re right. The coffee itself is not socially conscious but the means of growth, harvest, trade, transport, and consumption is. I stopped in at Ten Thousand Villages, an organization that focuses on friendship with global artisans, to check out their fair trade coffee. I came upon organic, fair trade coffee which is also certified CarbonFree®. The smell of the Sumatra “Telong” from the Aceh province in Sumatra, Indonesia captured me as did the certification that ensures that coffee farmers are working in shaded conditions and receiving fair wages for their work.
I am also trying out Costa Rican Tarrazu from World Market. It is Fair Trade certified and especially useful for any of you who are attempting to complete a M.A.R. in Missional Leadership whilst being a loving husband, devoted father, interactive Resident Director, loyal friend, SGA advisor, adjunct instructor, and compassionate follower of Jesus.
TO BE CONTINUED.