(authors pictured left to right: Katie Behrens, Ellie Mulder, Maddie Williams, and Brooke Bonnema)
This blog was born in the mountains of Honduras, over the course of many conversations, much journaling, and budding friendships. At first, we were just a group of college kids from Michigan who ventured to Central America for a study abroad program focused on Justice Studies. After all, how better to learn about issues of injustice than by following Jesus’ lead and entering into the places that sew injustices. Maybe it was curiosity, maybe graduation requirements, maybe a whimsical decision, or maybe just soft hearts ready and willing to learn about the hard stuff.
Regardless, here we are. We sat through many classes learning and debating about issues of injustice in poverty, economics, and development and how they relate to consumerism and materialism in our home country. We visited factories that export endlessly to the United States. We talked to worker unions. And amidst all of this deep learning, seeing, and experiencing, our hearts got pulled into something, and we noticed that the system of living we have isn’t redemptive. Somewhere along this road, our lives actually intersected with these injustices, and we realized we could, and absolutely should, do something about it.
As members of this earth, as fellow humans, and as Christians, we have a job here. If consumers in America were knowledgeable about what they buy, how it was made, and where it came from, we could make an impact on many lives and many industries in a restorative way. Though we are few, we have the capability of informing our families, friends, and neighbors about what responsible, ethical consumerism is and why it matters. That is where our motives, hopes, and hearts lie.
In a nation that considers itself great, we have become fixated on the “more” of life, when the beauty lies hidden under the simplicity of “less.” This is not a blog about minimalism, or a blog that is meant to be hipster and trendy. It’s not really even meant to be academic. At the end of the day, when we are swimming in strip malls and big sales, we are choosing to believe in quality rather than quantity, and then inform those we love about what that looks like implemented in our lives.
To us, quality isn’t dictated by how nice, shiny, and expensive a good is. It’s about the care it was made with. That care etches deep down to the roots of where that good began. From the thread a cloth was woven from, to whether or not that textile factory has air-conditioning in the furnace rooms, to the wages and rights of the woman who sewed that fabric into a t-shirt, to the route it was shipped on to reach a retailer. Was care taken to be good, fair, and just in each of these steps? And what is more: do we really need another t-shirt? To us, that is what marks quality; quality that extends to give life to each vessel that partook in the creation of a product. These are the things we want to converse about, to research, to ponder in the quest for living lives marked holistically by quality rather than quantity.
Let us engage in this kind of quality. The quality in which we desire our God to care for each part of our lives is the same quality standard by which we should evaluate where we spend our money, hoping that if a product is upping the quality of our lives, it is upping the quality of the lives that made it. They say put your money where your mouth is, and the Bible assures us in Luke 6:45 that “The mouth speaks that which fills the heart.” May our spending align with the yearning of our hearts to flood the world with love, grace, mercy, and justice through each bill that leaves our pockets.