Happy Monday, everyone! I know that many of you are enjoying your last days of summer with the Labor day weekend here in the states. Enjoy yourselves and be safe!
For most of us Labor day weekend has come to symbolize the unofficial end of summer. Many of us enjoy a three-day weekend and spend time hosting barbecues, spending time in the mountains or at a lake, or just plain relaxing. It is all good fun and very enjoyable. I wonder how many of us actually take the time to reflect on the struggles of the labor movement in the US and the world, how far rights for the working class have come, and what still needs to be done to ensure that everyone in our work force is treated with the respect and dignity that we all deserve in a safe working environment.
When we think of a Minimalist lifestyle we usually think of living with less and moving away from our over consumption of goods that we do not need in our lives. At first this may seem to put us at odds with the ideals of free enterprise and the entrepreneurial spirit that leads to such great innovation in our society. I do not believe that to be the case. Rather, I believe that seeking a more Minimalist lifestyle helps us to use discernment in our purchases and to encourages us to develop an economy based on quality of product and ethical work environments.
Many of us buy what we need without much thought of what goes into the products we buy. The fresh food we eat is often harvested by field workers enduring very harsh working conditions for very little money. Our Clothing is often manufactured in third world countries in conditions we would find intolerable.
I had a wake up call about such working conditions a few years ago centering around my need for a new purse. I tend to avoid buying purses and often use them well passed their prime. I am just not that into purses even though they are somewhat of a necessity. I was at a Christmas party when a young lady said she said she had designer look-alike purses with her at the party for sale for a fraction of the price of the designer bags. I know nothing about designer labels and really didn’t care about any label real or fake but the price for the purse was right. I got caught up in the moment and bought one from her. As the party went on she began telling us the story of obtaining the purses which included a trip to a shady part of Los Angeles and secret dealings out of trunks of cars in back alleys. I started to feel a little uneasy about my purchase. Was she buying purses or heroin? Most people would not see the harm in buying a designer knock off but I started to see a bigger picture. I imagined illegal workers with no rights working in a cramped, dirty room. Overworked, underpaid, no health coverage, and no voice. All of this exploitation for image conscious women to pull off the illusion of affording a designer label. I still have the purse. I do not use it; it is old and falling apart. ( The natural state for one of my purses.) Instead it hangs on a door reminding me not to make the same mistake again.
Our economy is based on supply and demand. We can transform the ethics of our economy by becoming mindful of what we demand and where our supply comes from. As Minimalists we are mindful of buying what we need versus buying for instant gratification. We can take this a step further and be mindful of who we choose to buy our products from. When it comes to home decor and clothing, we can often find local vendors and artisans that have their own little boutiques and specialty shops. Farmers markets, which have grown immensely in popularity the past few years,give us more control of the food we eat. We can pay attention to the atmosphere of the places we shop. Do the employees seem to be happy to be there? Is management visible and helpful? Do you see the same employees each time or is there a high turnover rate? Often, we already know what a company stands for before we even walk through the doors but out of convenience we frequent places that refuse to pay little more than minimum wage and give few or no benefits to the majority of their employees outside of management while the company itself boasts billions of dollars in profits.
This Labor day let”s take a moment to think about and thank all of those workers and laborers who are the true backbone of our country and all the countries of the world. Let’s make a commitment to mindful consumerism and together we can move towards a more fair and just US and global economy.
As always, I would love to hear from you!
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Until next time,