What Not Shopping For Over Two Years Taught Me
I remember like it was yesterday. In December 2014, I was thrilled and very grateful that a year that had largely been very difficult and terrible in many ways had shifted and was almost over. As I was organizing my condo, I was in my walk in closet and was a touch horrified at how many clothes and shoes I had. And the relationship between my bank accounts and my clothes and shoes. I decided that I did not want to continue to make the owners/designers/stores/shops any more wealthy than they presently were.
The new rules were that I could purchase items if one of two rules were true: (1) I was redeeming/using a gift card/gift certificate or (2) I actually needed the item. Like for real need, not want.
During that two years, I purchased three things: a winter coat for a weekend spent three hours outside of Boston and a week in NYC. Remember I lived in the desert - Las Vegas - at the time so my cold weather clothes, especially outerwear was lacking. I also bought a pair of rain boots for the same reason.
The third item was a tank top. I was asked to purchase it for my side job, a staff member of a yoga teacher training, and the founder of the teacher training would screen print the tanks for us as a gift. I struggled with justifying the purchase because it didn’t pass muster with the rules. And then, as the Divine, often turns up, I got an Amazon gift card and it was the exact amount for the gray tank I had been eyeing.
Fast forward to the day I decided to make another purchase. It was in 2017 when I found Sseko Designs, an ethical fashion brand that is fair trade verified. A dear friend was having a FB event and she invited me. I didn’t make a purchase, but I started doing some research about this brand that had ties to Uganda and I was pleasantly surprised with what I discovered.
I discovered that Sseko Designs was a bridge of hope between secondary school and University for academically gifted young women. These young women have historically been barred from education in Uganda because of the vestiges of patriarchy and sexism that exist in countries across the globe. In Uganda, there are not college access programs like student loans, scholarships or grants like there are in the US. This means that if you don’t have the cash or funds to go to University, you are not going to University.
What happens next is that many of these young women are married (without consenting) or sold into slavery (human trafficking). This is unacceptable.
I decided to join the Ssisterhood as an Independent Sseko Fellow. As a Sseko Fellow, I’ve learned a lot about myself, about others, about how to advocate and use my voice for the things that matter to me. If you are passionate about empowering women both here and in East Africa, let’s talk. No pressure, just an invitation.
The time away from participating, unknowingly in fast fashion, consumerism and depleting my net and soul worth allowed me to become more conscious + aligned, more intentional about how I spend my hard earned money. It was an invaluable lesson and I’m so glad the Divine planted the seed four years ago. It was a gift, I didn’t realize was necessary.
Photo credit: Mel Bosna