Over the last few weeks, I’m sure, like many of you, I’ve found myself reflecting over 2018. It has been satisfying to digest the dreams that have come alive through the power of using my voice. At the same time I have reflected on the ideas that didn’t quite make it or the developments in the longerterm dream that my heart is so ready to see but where the plan is not fully formed to initiate yet.
One of my favourite parts of beginning a new calendar year is buying a new yearly planner. I am a high shaper which means I like having a plan! Those of you who know me well will know this about me! So on New Year’s morning I wrote out the plans I already have solidified for the next 12 months in this beautiful new planner (thanks Anthropologie!) and I began to think about the challenges I wanted to achieve and the things I felt I could inspire others with through my dream and through my voice.
The beginning of a new year always draws us into thinking about new perspectives, challenges and ideas but sometimes these are easier said than done. That’s why I want to share our New Year’s challenge and personal resolution to help motivate others as well as ourselves because however small the steps may be they they will begin to initiate change and turn a desire into a reality!
Over the last 18 months I’ve had the most incredible experience of designing jewellery, sourcing materials and training our four women at Voice HQ in Kampala. Through this process I’ve began to learn so much more about quality, ethical material usage and how valuable a product can be – not just to the consumer but also to those who crafted it. I’ve witnessed first hand the financial freedom of a woman being paid a sustainable wage, enabling her to rise above the poverty line. I’ve seen what this does for her own wellbeing and for her family. But sadly I also know that thousands of miles across the water there is also a woman working just as hard for a meagre wage or a child being exploited and forced to work for nothing. These may be stories with no faces, but we know they are true.
I’ve pulled together a snippet of a great article written by I-D, based around facts from the Global Slavery Index.
To read the full article please click here.
The Global Slavery Index 2018 report published by the Walk Free Foundation states that fashion garments are among the biggest items at risk of being produced through modern slavery practices.
The fashion industry came second, alongside personal technology, sugar cane, cocoa and fish, as most guilty of benefitting from this modern slave labour, which effects an estimated 40 million people across the world. The state of modern slavery is also a feminist issue, as disportionately it’s women who are affected — 71% of modern slaves are women and girls.
Fashion, according to The Global Slavery Index, accounts for $127 billion of the $354 billion spent on imports to G20 countries, largely through fast fashion. The most at risk garments come from China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Brazil and Argentina.
“Over 40 million people worldwide are trapped in some form of modern slavery,” the Walk Free foundation explains. “We have a responsibility to put a stop to this crime.” And according to this report, sadly, a huge amount of that responsibility falls on the lack of sustainability and ethics within our modern fashion industry.
Acknowledging this problem is the first step, but as consumers we can help by making sure our spending habits are as ethical as possible. It might sound like a small, inconsequential move to decide to buy less fast fashion (or preferably, none at all), or to shop in charity shops, but to the millions of people around the world affected by modern slavery, it’s a step in the right direction. After that, supporting designers, brands and companies that pay their factory workers fairly is hugely important. Pressure from us, the consumers, will travel up the chain and eventually convince huge corporations that rely on our dollars to exist.
So whats our challenge to you for 2019?
I’ve decided personally, in line with what I promote daily for Voice, that its time for me to choose more ethically in my everyday life. It’s something which will be a gradual change and a hard one in some aspects but it is a decision that impacts more than just my bank balance or my wardrobe, food cupboards and social activities. I’m not suggesting changing these things all at once, but I’m encouraging you to join me on this 2019 adventure and start by picking one. It may be a certain food category, or a specific clothing item, like shoes to begin with or you may want to start by giving ethical gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and so on. But it’s possible! You’ve done the first part by reading this far and brainstorming what it is that you could do which will eventually impact global change.
Will you join me?
Below are links to different ethical, handmade, sustainable brands and boutiques we know and love to give you pointers in the right direction. We’d also love it if you sign up to our Love Ethical mailing list where we will send you encouraging tips and ideas each month.
I’d also love to hear from you! Please get in touch and tell us what you think about choosing ethically, tell us how you are going to start reflecting this in your 2019, or where you’ve found brilliant ethical products.
For now, thank you for reading and thank you for your support and investment into Voice International. You’ll be hearing from me a lot more on the blog this year.
Love Natasha x