…the clock is ticking and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small. – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic.
These words by Elizabeth Gilbert really have nothing much to do with the blog post I am about to write. Actually, I’m taking them quite out of context. Gilbert is talking about fear and creativity, and me, well, I’m talking about shopping. But hang with me a minute and I’ll explain.
Gilbert’s words captured how I’ve recently begun thinking about my place in the world. You see, when it comes to protecting and caring for the most vulnerable and at-risk peoples of the world; those living in desperate poverty, in the past I’ve been a very small thinker. I’ve always wondered what difference I could make when the problems of the world are so enormous, and I am just one of seven billion people. If I’m honest, that small thinking has lead me to not really doing much at all.
But lately I have been noticing people and organisations who haven’t been so small minded. People who have decided that their ideas and influence can change the world. These people have drawn on their courage and determination, pulled together like-minded individuals and are making a significant impact on the developing world.
And these big thinking people are helping the small thinking people like to me to think bigger.
Let me give you three examples.
Little-thinking me needs to wipe her bottom when she goes to the toilet. Big thinking guy Simon Griffiths also needs to wipe his bottom. But Big Thinking Simon Griffiths decides that he can make toilet paper, sell it to people like me, and use 50% of the profits to built proper toilets in the developing world. I’ve started buying Simon’s toilet paper online at Who Gives A Crap. It is individually wrapped (which is awesome! Now I store it in a basket in the toilet and the kids no longer scream, “can someone get me some toilet paper!”) and delivered FREE right to my door! It is cheaper than any TP I usually buy in the store, and you can subscribe(!!) to it so you get a new box of toilet paper every 8 or so weeks. Well done, Simon Griffiths!
Another big thinker is Daniel Flynn, co founder of the Thank You Group. According to their website, Thankyou was born in 2008 in response to the World Water Crisis. At that time, over 900 million people didn’t have access to safe drinking water on a daily basis, yet the Australian bottled water industry was worth an estimated $600 million a year. Flynn pulled together a group of friends in Melbourne and they launched a line of bottled water that would fund water projects overseas. In July 2013 they rebranded as Thankyou, complete with two new ranges: food and body care and today, Thankyou has over 40 products available in 5000 outlets in Australia (including 7 Eleven, Coles and Woolworths). The idea was to take a more holistic approach to combating poverty, with 100% of profits funding safe water, food and hygiene and sanitation services around the world. In the second half of 2016 Thank You launched Thankyou baby, a nappy and baby care range that funds child and maternal health programs around the globe to empower families in need.
Thank You make an awesome coffee body scrub, as well as really good hand wash. Their products smell beautiful and are packaged really well. Thank You make products that we need to buy. Through Thank You, we can stand in the aisle at Woolies and easily make a choice that not only gives us an excellent product but also makes a difference toward improving the lives of people in the developing world.
The third awesome big thinker is Angelina Robins of One Tenth Clothing. One Tenth Clothing collaborate with fair trade garment factories to help create jobs for trafficked survivors. They also invest 10% of their profits to help fund education for children in Kolkata.
I am wearing a One Tenth t-shirt right now. My sister Liz bought it for me to replace a cheap t-shirt she’d bought me as a pj top for my birthday. When it dawned on her that the $3 t-shirt couldn’t possibly have been made ethically she felt really bad, so she did a search for a better shirt to replace it and came up with this beautiful soft shirt that I love wearing. When it arrived in the mail, Liz liked it so much she contemplated keeping it for a whole month. She finally handed it over when I picked her up to go to a conference one night. It was so soft and nice, I put it straight on in the carpark and wore it in to the conference. Little did I know that Angelina Robins would be speaking at that event! She saw me in her shirt and introduced herself!
The clock is ticking and the world is spinning and time is running out for many people living in poverty. The world needs people like Simon, Daniel and Angelina, and people like you and me, who refuse to believe that we are too small and insignificant to make a difference.
Our big difference can start with small stuff like toilet paper and body wash and t-shirts. We can also buy Mexican food from people who feed the homeless and lingerie from people who collect and distribute sanitary products for impoverished and homeless women.
The Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Guide can help, as can the website ethical.org.au. We can go online and search out the big thinkers get on board with what they are doing.
But maybe the best resource we have is each other.
What companies and products do you use or know about that use their profits to help those in the developing world? What ideas do you have for shopping more ethically, and supporting business that are making a difference in the world? I’d love to hear your ideas and put them into practise in my home.