This month I'm writing a new post each day about my own version of Jen Hatmaker's 7 experiment. For more posts and an introduction, head here. Because it's the 27th, a day that I spend each month focusing on the 27 million slaves in our world, today's 7 topic is clothing and possessions.
Because I've been targeting slave-made products for the past while (and because clothing and possessions aren't areas of excess in our lives, at least compared to other areas, so I'm spending less time on them this month), I thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight Made in a Free World.
They're a group whose goal is to empower people (from individuals to corporations) with innovative solutions that will ultimately end the system of slavery. Among other things, they have a wonderful online tool that allows you to calculate your "slavery footprint" - that is, the number of slaves who worked to make the things that you currently own. It's an eye-opening exercise, if for no other reason than that, in order to get an accurate count, you have to dig through your fridge and bathroom cabinets and closet and take inventory - you may think that you don't have much, but I was honestly shocked at how many Tshirts and pieces of jewelry I have (since I only wear the same 5 pieces over and over, I should probably look into finding someone who would use and appreciate the rest). They don't give you a higher number than you deserve - in each category, you're given the opportunity to fine-tune. That also provides some eye-opening information (like, raspberries being a potential problem or how many hours soccer ball makers usually work consecutively), and they've put a lot of thought into the process of determining an individual's footprint.
So little of what we use and own is made by ourselves from raw materials - even if you cook your own food, the ingredients had to come from somewhere. If you sew your own clothes, the fabric had to be made by someone. As a knitter, I recognize that the yarn, needles, and other notions that I use are globally sourced. But that's not a reason to not try to make globally-minded ethical decisions --- that's a reason to try harder, because it is harder. Our little family's possessions were provided by the efforts of about 27 slaves - it's my hope and prayer that this month's efforts will ultimately have a global impact, as well as a lasting personal one.
I encourage you to visit MIAFW's website and take their Slavery Footprint Survey - then prayerfully consider the result, not with guilt or shame, but with the intention of moving on from the present into a brighter future.