We all want to see good win in the world. But still, in 2016, it seems that everywhere we look, the underdog is struggling.
I was twelve years old when my passion for freedom and justice was ignited. I was in my early twenties when I started working to end human trafficking and since then I have worked with amazing teams and phenomenal leaders, written action plans, aided public policy, created educational resources, managed prevention programs, spoken to audience filled arenas and participated in my fair share of marches, rallies, petitions and protests.
But something was missing.
Through it all, I’ve learned that some efforts to end injustice create change while others simply create noise.
If we want to get serious about ending major world issues like human trafficking, we need to build a sustainable movement. We need passionate, determined and resilient individuals who come with creative, effective, collaborative and holistic solutions that get to the root causes of rampant human exploitation.
Action plans and public policies are important but on their own, it will never be enough. We need you. We need the ones who are unwilling to give up, those who confront what’s wrong and multiply what’s right. That’s when things are really going to change.
It starts in small acts of everyday activism: buying fair trade or thrifted goods, shutting down degrading racist or sexist jokes that aren’t funny, saying hello to the man on the sitting on the street corner and asking the barista, “how was your day?”
Every action we take, whether in a crowd or on our own, links up with and affects another human being. We change the world through our daily, intentional choices for freedom and justice—everyday activism that turns justice into a lifestyle.
Drink Coffee or Tea every day? Consider buying from Good Coffee or Justea and begin your day with justice. I’ll never forget walking the coffee plantations of Guatemala and rolling tea hills of Sri Lanka, sifting coffee bean husks and plucking tea leaves with the ladies who are directly impacted by our choices to buy ethically sourced drinks. Direct trade makes a direct impact.
Wear Makeup? Let’s be real, most of us wear at least a little lipstick when going about our daily tasks at work, at home or even at the grocery store. You definitely need to try Face of Dignity. Face of Dignity is a cosmetic company that donates 100% of all profits to organizations that fund the rescue, restoration and rehabilitation of human trafficking survivors. The foundations are named Value, Strength and Courage and the entire collection is gluten free, cruelty free, paraben free, made without harsh chemicals and rich in anti-oxidants. True beauty, for sure!
Love to decorate? Check out American Nomad. This online boutique carries fair trade and artisan made treasures from all corners of the globe. From fashion to home décor and even something for the littlest members of your family, American Nomad offers beautiful collections of timeless art to adorn your home with your values of freedom.
We all wear underwear, right? Let’s make that ethical. Underables is all about ethical intimates. No more digging through the panty bin because our lady bits only deserve the best and so do the people who make my clothes.
The perfect pair of denim is a staple in every wardrobe. Good Society Jeans contain 100% of the world’s finest organic cotton with a fully transparent and traceable supply train, meaning this denim is good for the makers, good for the planet and good for you.
Need a little sparkle? Senhoa Jewelry is made by survivors of human trafficking and intentionally created with high quality Swarovski crystals that remind each woman that she is likewise, of high quality, precious value and worthy of creating beauty in the world.
Walk towards justice. I can’t wait to sport my new Sseko sandals with gorgeous ribbons and interchangeable beaded accents to help send a girl in Uganda to college! (Psst…Liz Forkin Bohannon, the CEO of Sseko Designs spoke at the Yellow Conference last year! You can catch her session here).
We can take our actions even further by living out our values through practical and hands-on acts of kindness. The world is much smaller than it ever used to be and every action we take affects another person, whether directly or indirectly. Live your activism through your words, how you spend your time and where you invest your resources.
Everyday activism is all about changing the world from where you are and living with intention through the things you do every day. It’s about connecting the community; living local and thinking global so that we can bring justice and freedom to the people connected to the products we use and love every single day.
Photos by Valerie Denise