Robin Peake
How to start changing the world: it's simpler than you think

By guest contributor Robin Peake

Natalie asked me to write a blog post on "how to start changing the world or something along those lines".

Wow, you guys at Jubilee+ aren't afraid to dream big, eh?

There's something that I noticed when I re-read her email though.

It wasn't to be a post on "How to Change the World." (Thank goodness!)

It was to be a post on "How to Start Changing the World."

And one place that we can easily start, is with our shopping trolley.

Recently I was part of the Mosaic conference, a one-day event hosted by Tearfund and their Rhythms team that brought together people who are passionate about pursuing justice in God’s world.

After quality speakers and experienced practitioners unpacked God's heart for justice, which we see clearly in the Bible, we were then provided with the space to play a practical role in exploring what implications this has for each of our lives.

It was a day not just of listening, but of doing. A day not just for taking notes, but for taking action.

So often, when I'm reminded of what God wants our world to look like, and then look out the window and see how far away it is from that, I feel completely overwhelmed.

So overwhelmed, in fact, that I do nothing!

Mosaic urged us not to be overwhelmed by the statistics that we see, but to be inspired by the stories that we can change.

At the conference, I felt that the time for being overwhelmed into inaction was over.

The whole afternoon session was dedicated towards collaborating with others to shape a practical response to specific issues of injustice. I found myself in a group with some incredible people including Andy, who gave away all his clothes to buy a fairly made wardrobe and has started his own ethical clothing label, and Charlotte, who founded the Ethical Fashion Collective and organised and hosted the inaugural Ethical Fashion Week.

The question my group grappled with was: “How can I live my life without negatively affecting the global community?” Motivated by Charlotte's first-hand experiences of meeting garment workers in Oman and India, we began asking ourselves what small part could we play in making fashion fairer.

In less than an hour we had the beginnings of a campaign, inspired by Stop The Traffik’s Fashion Protocol, to petition Britain’s biggest clothing brands to become more transparent, use contracts with employees as standard, and be open to unannounced and independent audits of their practices.

But we knew that it wasn't enough only for the big brands to change. Their customers – that's you and me – need to change as well.

So what could we do?

What could we do when so often we feel overwhelmed into inaction? When a dramatic lifestyle change seems utterly foreign? When the issues seem so hopelessly complex?

And then someone suggested that we do something incredibly simple. We simply commit to making sure that the next item of clothing that we buy is more fairly made than the last one that we bought. Surely we could at least commit to that?

And so, #mynextbuy was formed, a campaign that asks people: can you simply commit to making sure that the next item of clothing that you buy is more fairly made than the last one you bought?

In the past few weeks I've started the #mynextbuy journey. My next buy was a £24 shirt made by Irdish, a tailor in Bengal. Then I bought a pair of Ethletic flip-flops, certified Fairtrade, which I'm still learning to walk in. And then a pair of shorts picked up from a charity shop for £4, as a way of reducing the need for a new pair to be made.

It’s been quite fun, a little bit addictive, and a lot like learning a completely new way of doing things (like Windows 8, but less annoying).

The journey of the last few weeks has convinced me that it’s possible to – bit by bit – make better lifestyle choices: choices that ensure workers are treated well, given dignity, and paid fairly.

I’d love you to join me on this journey. What will your next buy be? Sign up here.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by guest contributors are those of the author. Although broadly in keeping with the objectives of Jubilee+, the views and opinions of the guest do not necessarily represent those of the Jubilee+ team and directors and/or other contributors to this site.