Before you were even born, you started training to become a consumer. Your life began surrounded by stuff. Every day you see signs that tell you and your whānau that your value is tied up in what you have—if you don’t have the latest things, the best brands, then you’re missing out.
Clothes are a classic example of this, right? Big brands design stuff based around what’s on trend for the ‘season’. Think for a moment how crazy that is! Clothes that if looked after could last 10 years-plus, are advertised as being uncool after one winter, summer or spring. Or even worse, they’re designed not to last, so you’re forced to get something new. To keep up, you throw stuff out or donate it to a store and buy the new thing. You are programmed to become dissatisfied with what you have by companies who want to make money out of you.
In New Zealand, it is estimated that 100 million kilos of textile waste is dumped each year. After an audit in 2018 for waste in Christchurch alone, the amount of fashion and textile waste was 6397 tonnes.
The idea of making something quickly and cheaply that’s replaced just as quickly, is called ‘fast fashion’.
The problem is fast fashion has had a fast impact on people and on the planet. Water shortages and pollution put communities at risk; greenhouse gas emissions lead to climate change; dangerous working conditions and maltreatment of garment makers … unfortunately, the list goes on.
Producing something sustainable means we make the world better for everyone now, without destroying the possibilities for the next generation. If you’re wondering if something is sustainable, you can ask yourself this question: Can it be reproduced over and over again, forever?
The best news is this: we have the power to make all our consumer decisions based on sustainability.
Jesus’ Brand of Justice
Jesus didn’t live in a time where sustainability was a problem like today. So how do we know what he would think? Jesus said that those who love God, love others. The truth is, ‘The fact that [something] is cheap, doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost much, but that someone, other than [us], is paying the price,’ says Marieke Eyskoot, sustainable fashion and lifestyle expert. Every dollar represents a decision. Ask yourself: Does how I spend show my love for others?
Jesus lived this crazy, who-cares-if-it’s-popular life, with biblical justice on his mind and in his heart. He showed up for those who were vulnerable and encouraged others to do the same. The planet and its people are more vulnerable than ever. As followers of Jesus, we’re called to be part of his work in making the broken beautiful again. The Bible says it this way: ‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8).
Go Do Something!
More than 100 years ago, this guy, Bramwell Booth, was telling his dad, William, (co-founder of The Salvation Army) about the men experiencing homelessness that he saw on his way to work every day. William replied, ‘Bramwell, go and do something!’
For those of us in Te Ope Whakaora, our burden is not to fix the world, but to respond to the needs right in front of us; to think about where we throw that plastic bottle, or whether we need to buy it at all; to work on changing our own consumer nature and not be sucked in by trends. We can keep clothes for longer; repair things we love; buy treats with a FAIRTRADE Mark to ensure the people making the product were treated fairly, and demand that companies make changes to the way they work.
Going forward, we will feature some amazing thoughts from young people around the territory (Aotearoa, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa) on different social justice issues.
The first is by Moshe Jivan, from Hamilton City Corps:
There is so much social injustice in this world! So many times we have opportunities to maybe make a change or two but instead we stay silent and do nothing! For me, I believe that without understanding how God sees injustice, we will struggle to find conviction for ourselves and what we should do as a community to stop these big, but very stealthy, acts of injustice.
Our purpose in life is to glorify God and represent who God is; to know the power of his creativity—he created Man and Woman in his image. As children of God, I believe that we need to be willing to speak up against all this injustice, and not turn a blind eye, as this will support the acts of social injustice. Every human being that is made in the image of God is no greater in value nor lesser in value, because God loves us all the same and we are all equal to one-another. It doesn't matter who the person is, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
We must stand together and fight for God’s justice in this world, which is loving God with all your heart, soul and mind and loving your neighbour as yourself. If I’m going to be honest, as people who call themselves children of God we barely reach the mark, so that is why we need to step up in boldness and humility to stand firm for what we believe!