Emily: joyful barista + thoughtful consumer
An Oregon native, Emily recently returned from living in Tennessee for a few years. We sat down for a chat at her house, and I was immediately drawn in by her sincere passion and intentionality. Emily is a self described "seeker" who is currently working at Starbucks and fully embracing the life God has given her by loving her customers and coworkers.
How long have you been shopping ethically?
I grew up shopping primarily at thrift stores just for the economy of it. I never really thought about it as "ethical" at the time. But around seventeen, I began learning more about human trafficking and how many people were being taken advantage up in various industries... specifically, women being trafficked and oppressed through the fashion industry.
When you realized how big the problem was, what did you do?
Initially, I became very angry. Angry at the prices we were paying, at marketing, at how much is hidden from the public. I sort of became numb and shut down completely when it came to shopping. For a while I didn't shop at all because I didn't want to wear labels that promoted companies who contribute to the injustice (even if I bought the item secondhand).
How did you overcome that shopping paralysis?
When I moved to Tennessee, I met someone who helped me overcome my anxiety by introducing me to a way of shopping that actually promotes the welfare of others. I started buying things made in the U.S., getting to know vendors, and purchasing through Etsy or other handmade outlets. I've also been finding some fair trade brands that I can save up to purchase something from.
What are your favorite places to shop?
I still love to thrift, I just choose items that don't have visible logos so that I'm not inadvertently advertising for a company who is unethical. I especially love thrift stores that are run by churches or non-profits who give back to the community.
How would you describe your personal style?
I like classic pieces, but I also love bohemian. I love how they can blend together, like you can wear unique leather clogs with a more classically designed top. I think that's the fun of it, mixing!
How has shopping ethically affected your daily life?
For me, it has drastically simplified my routine. Since I think so much about who made my clothes, I love opening my closet in the morning and knowing that any item I put on is "safe." I believe we are connected to the people who made what we wear, so it's a really positive thing to know what I put on each day was made by someone who actually is being given a decent livelihood. I see shopping as something to go about very purposefully now, which actually makes me buy less since I won't grab frivolous items that aren't well made or don't fit my style.
Can you offer any advice to someone trying to shop more consciously?
Get ready to stop caring what people think. Once you've realized the effects shopping has on the world and on yourself, don't let the media or even your friends get in the way of your realization that it's possible and worthwhile to shop differently.
It's an investment. It's a workout for your heart, budget, and time. It's so worth it.