I became aware of the slow fashion revolution in 2014 after studying a book in the Bible called Amos. There was a specific verse that traveled thousands of years to convict me and my modern-day consumerism.
“… because they sell the needy for a pair of sandals.” (Amos 8:6)
Better yet, the Message version below:
Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak, you who treat poor people as less than nothing, Who say, “When’s my next paycheck coming so I can go out and live it up? How long till the weekend when I can go out and have a good time?” Who give little and take much, and never do an honest day’s work. You exploit the poor, using them— and then, when they’re used up, you discard them.
Reading that verse immediately convicted me. I never said those things out loud, nor would I admit to thinking them, but my actions showed I cared more about cheap/fast fashion than the people (or planet) producing them.
At that very moment, I decided to purge my closet of every fast fashion purchase (think anything Forever 21, HM, and Target). I only kept second-hand or fair trade clothing. I committed to researching companies and only supporting those with fair wages or a commitment to a cause.
I have learned so much since 2014, and my goals have evolved to be even more specific. I am not only interested in shopping second-hand and fair trade (when I can afford it). Now I am interested in living out a better story for people, planet and my own spirit. I don’t lean on the excuse, “I can’t afford fair trade” anymore because I am willing to do the hard work of waiting and saving up for things. I have also started seeing others engage in new ways and creatively bring awareness.
One awareness campaign is the 10x10 Challenge. On July 27th I participated in my first 10x10 Challenge. I joined women across the globe challenging themselves to wear only 10 pieces of clothing over 10 days (including shoes!). Here are the items I chose:
- White striped crew neck tee
- Gray v-neck
- Black striped tank
- White “Slow Fashion” graphic v-neck
- Repurposed navy floral wrap skirt
- Navy floral swing dress
- Fair trade denim shorts
- Green khaki shorts
- Black chaco flip flops
- Tan sperry’s
Throughout this challenge, I was reminded of lessons I have previously learned, but was also struck by something so new and practical. I was reminded of how engaging in thoughtful practice makes me hyper-aware of my consumerist thought patterns and comparisons, how much less time and energy I spend on consumerism when I have strict boundaries, and of the freedom that comes with creativity. The one new lesson that has profound implications is in regard to space. I learned how my stuff takes up space for others to be. I saw this play out as I packed up my clothing, leaving only my 10 items on my side of our walk-in closet. This sounds cute, but to make this more practical let me tell you more about our closet. This space is also where our son’s crib belongs. When I removed my stuff from that space, it looked more like a small room, than a scene from Narnia. I am going to let that take deep roots in me as I move forward. How many others’ am I stealing space from in order to just store my stuff?
The last day of my 10x10 Challenge was Sunday. At church, the sermon was [divinely] about consumerism. WHAT?!? The heart of the message was an invitation to wake up from the stupor of consumerism and advertising and start living into the fullness of life and intimacy with God.
When I began learning about rest and the Sabbath years ago, I heard this quote that will never be lost on me.
“When we create the space, God can fill it.”
This is sooooo good! Especially in light of my new lesson from the 10x10 Challenge. I want to take this sermon message a bit further for those of you who think this sounds wonderful, but don’t know how to create space.
- Engage in the sacred practice of self-denial. Our culture is all about “me.” I could preach 1000 sermons on Rome and how we have voluntarily infected ourselves with its Hellenism, but I won’t. Hellenism is a worldview where people place themselves at the center.. It can sound nice and comforting. But this world, and this life, wasn’t created for just “me.” What if we started saying no to our self and noticed what kinds of things that brought up in us. Try a consumerism fast, or deleting Instagram.
- Sit in the sacred space of silence. I don’t just mean stop talking. I mean stop listening to all the noise around you. Turn off the television, Spotify/Pandora, podcasts, and sit in the silence. It will take time for your mind to stop zooming, but lean into it and see what comes out when your thoughts finally slow down. If you have kids and want to try this, ask a friend to babysit (hint: I will babysit).
- Devour the sacred Text. This one may be hard for my friends who have years and years of toxic Christian culture. I am not saying devour the words or interpretations of pastors. I am inviting you to actually pick up this ol’ book and get to know it. Take your time with it. Sit in the tension of the words that rub you the wrong way and see if there is something deeper going on. One way I devour the Text is by copying it down in a journal, one word at a time. For example, I just finished writing the entire book of Matthew word by word.
- Be present to the sacredness of others. Can you tell I am a fan of turning the devices off? It is because I need to do it. The sad truth is that it is hard for me to be fully present so I need to put my phone down and go through the insta-withdrawals. There is a divine presence in the people of our lives and if we can get our face off the screen, we just might be transformed by God-in-them.
This 10x10 Challenge has brought about so much more than I thought. I am not just rethinking clothing, but allowing myself to be challenged to rethink consumption. Consumerism affects our relationship with God and others. We begin to think anything and everyone is a tool to be used for our own pleasure. If we truly want to wake up, we need to disconnect from consuming, and technologies that making consuming that much easier, long enough to have ears that hear, eyes that see, and hearts that understand.