This last weekend, the beautiful Hannah and I purchased a kitchen table for our tiny apartment for a tiny amount of money from a thrift store. It is something that may or may not move with us, but is perfect for our current needs. As I was carrying the chairs in, I noticed a date stamp. A couple months before the beautiful Hannah was born. Later that evening, we cooked down some tomatoes we were given and made our own spaghetti sauce, which we then jarred while making jokes about being very hipster and Portland. It got me thinking, how wrong those thoughts were.
It was nearly 5 years ago that I heard how insanely prominent human trafficking was and felt helpless. Human trafficking as in moving humans for labor slavery, sex slavery or bonded slavery. More simply— people being forced to do things they didn’t want to or hadn’t agreed to do.
That is why it was pretty exciting to hear President Obama discuss the US taking a stand against these “business” practices. A stand as a nation and a governmental body that could do a lot more than I can with my little puzzle piece. A puzzle piece I realized more people should use.
Five years ago, I realized I had a hand in the global economy that caused major demands and issues in trafficking. It was my single justice issue I was going to attack…which I did for 6 months or so. I started looking where my food came from. I started researching who made my clothes and furniture and electronics. I noticed what I owned that weren’t needed and which things were part of everyday life. Not to say I was completely naive previously. I knew that a $4 of jeans was most likely made by someone under paid, but I was too underpaid to buy all clothes, and food, and electronics local or fair trade, until I made a change.
In the past couple years I have started consuming less. I researched stores and products. I bought local or artisan when that was available. I stopped buying new on things I couldn’t find local and went to thrift stores or accepted donations (clothes, books, toys). I continued to buy clearance on items I wanted new (socks, underwear). The disappointing thing is that each time I make a change I realize that something else still needs changing. It wasnt possible to be perfect I thought.
The first time I went grocery shopping with the beautiful Hannah, she said “I shop on the edges.” I replied, “Rock n Roll! Living on the edge”, because I didn’t know exactly what she was talking about and missed the “s” in her statement. Simply put she bought perishables as the bulk of her purchase and only used non-perishables when needed. Lucky for me, donuts were on the edge of the store. But when I thought about it later, I realized that this small step led to better (less processed) and more local foods. We also looked where fruits and meats and such came from picking pesticide free NW brands over Guatemalan or Chinese foods.
It is shocking to think about how food is made and processed for less money than local grown and harvested fruits, vegetables, and meats. It is also shocking to realize that cooking at home, or gardening, or canning is thought of as hipster, trendy or alternative, when it is what our (my) parents (you) did 30 years ago. Yet, when I realize the global economy of outsourcing, overproducing and over-consuming took off about the same time, it makes sense that I can do my part to prevent human trafficking by living like generations before me who stopped slavery.