It is troubling when our hearts and actions don’t always line up. It’s frustrating to see in ourselves, and it’s frustrating to see in other people. But at the core, this problem is about a lack of congruence.

Congruence is the phenomena of quality when things are in a state of agreement and correspondence. Primarily, we’re referring to the quality of life we experience when we live in correspondence with our values.

How can one live a life of congruency from start to finish? Well, the reality is that it’s impossible. As kids, we don’t have a deep development of our values and how to act upon them just yet. We have to put time, effort, and thought into what that means and looks like. The more we grow to solidify our values through experience, the more congruence we live out of.

As a result, we feel more stable and solid in who we are in relation to the world. It is satisfying and fulfilling to intentionally act in a way that your values agree with. It is the way humans interact with one another and the world best.

So where does this intersect with labor ethics and consumption?

The culture of consumption that feeds unfair labor rights is incongruent with what most people believe. Any given person on the street would probably say they are in favor of just wages, safe conditions, fair hours, and appropriate benefits. It has nothing to do with what country…most people agree that anyone who is working should have these things as a piece of human rights and dignity. Yet, we still buy items from brands who don’t implement these human rights for many complicated reasons from corruption to poverty.

This is why we research companies…so that our shopping habits can reflect our support of fair and just working conditions for all. Many people in factories where our clothing is made don’t receive this due to many systematic obstacles. Maybe the people implementing such injustice even disagree with their actions somewhere deep inside them as fellow humans. Unfortunately, the corruption involved complicates the issue there. But, our position as consumers is pretty easy to see.

In terms of labor ethics, it is not acceptable to not change our consumption habits just because we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes…the information is too easy to access for that. Consumption is one small area of our lives that we can easily live more congruently by not putting our dollar votes towards companies that we don’t agree with on a fundamental level.

After all, agreeing with injustice is much more detrimental than agreeing with brand name trends.

Written By: Madeleine Williams