Sunday, April 28, 2013

People Power

Two events have occurred recently that have got me thinking about people power.

A few weeks ago, local food company, Spring Gully Foods, announced that it had had to hire an administrator. I knew nothing of the company because I thought all it made were pickled onions and gherkins, neither of which I like. I certainly didn't know it was a local - and I mean local to my state - or that it was a family run business.

After hearing the news I went to their website to see if it made any products I might like; I really wanted to help. Me and everyone else in South Australia, it seems. A couple of days later I "liked" Spring Gully on Facebook so I could follow its story. After visiting its website I knew I would like to try some of its products. Me and everyone else in South Australia, it seems. I went to a bigger, independent supermarket and found that many of the Spring Gully products were sold out. I managed to get hold of a jar of sweet chilli chutney and one of jam. The chutney is really good but I haven't opened the jam yet.

Over the course of the next few days, many of my local Facebook friends were posting updates about Spring Gully foods; which supermarkets had which products and which were sold out. Spring Gully is still in trouble; there was a meeting with the creditors last week. It is in less trouble, however, than it was before and its administrator said that he had never seen such a turn-around before. I've got my fingers crossed for the company and I think the people of this state have its back.

How's that for people power???

So, what about this for a thought? What if the same passion were shown by the public by boycotting the clothing companies that use the kinds of sweatshops like the one in Bangladesh that collapsed? I can tell you right now that the cute $6 t-shirts on sale at Big W at the moment are made in Bangladesh. Maybe even at the same factory. Do you want one of those on your back? Do you want one of those on your conscience?

I use my Ethical Consumer Guide every time I go to the supermarket. Sadly, however, it only gives grocery items. You can bet your bottom dollar that if such a guide exists for other products - particularly clothing - I will find it and use it. I don't want to be complicit in future deaths and my silence and my buying of any of those products is complicity.

It was never my intention to use this blog for anything other than to tell my family's story and share our experiences. I never wanted to try to get anyone else to do what we do. Now, however, I ask each and every one of you to think about the clothes on your back and where they come from. You don't know? That's the problem and that's why companies get away with human rights violations. None of us know and we need to find out. Some of the companies using the Bangladeshi factory have been named and shamed so, please boycott their products.

Fellow blogger, Katy Wolk-Stanley made a similar heartfelt plea, along with other information. I would urge you to read that post to learn more about the situation and what you can do.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Media: Director or Reflector of Public Opinion

Like a great number of people in the First World I sat glued to my television screen in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

As I sat watching the same footage repeatedly shown, I noticed a worm move under the pictures which read that bombs had detonated in Iraq. I furthered realised that many more people were killed and injured there than in Boston.

It occurred to me that we're used to bombs going off over in the Middle East but when it happens in a First World country we sit up and take notice. At least I hope that's the reason because I would hate to think that we believe that First World lives are worth more than Third World ones simply because of an accident of birth.

I decided that the media was at fault for showing so much footage from Boston and none from Iraq. I immediately knew that the media would counter that argument with the justification that it was just meeting the public demand.

That begs the question: is the media the director or reflector of public opinion? Does it shape the way we think and feel about issues by what it shows or does it show what we want to see?

Either answer makes me feel somewhat hopeless. If the media shape the way we think and feel about things then we are living in the very society George Orwell wrote about in his futuristic novel 1984 and can no longer think for ourselves. Scary stuff.

If, on the other hand, the media really is just showing what we want to see, what kind of a society have we become when we place a higher value on someone's life just because of who they are and where they live?

Footprints is about trying to live as ethically as possible. To sit and blindly accept the images being shown without questioning the fairness of the coverage would go against the way we try to live. To blindly accept what we - as a society - have become or, at least, what the media think we've become would also go against it.

Fortunately, in the same week, I've witnessed a magnificent and heartening example of consumer power at its best. That, however, is for another post.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

You're Going to Get a Fat Ass

Mother was a tall, thin woman, except for her bootyliciousness. Apart from the lack of booty I'm built like Mother. She used to look at me and say with deadly sweetness in her melodic southern U.S.A. accent, "Wait till you're forty, you're going to get a fat ass."

In nine months and four days I'm going to be out of my forties and, so far, my ass has decreased rather than increased. It's become a pancake and redistributed itself onto saddle-bags and a muffin top instead. I know that, at this point, my friends reading this are guffawing into their coffees, wondering where these saddle-bags and muffin top are.

I'm not saying I'm fat - far from it. It's just that I've reached an age where the body distributes things differently. It's not a problem for me because I know that I exercise and eat very well and Husband still finds me attractive. Consequently, I have no desire to try to fight middle-age.

Recent photos have revealed to me, however, that perhaps it's time to stop wearing tight t-shirts. Sadly, that's pretty much all I had...until today. I drove to a local shopping centre to use their branch of my credit union and walked the short distance to a Salvos shop. Fellow blogger, The Book Addict, commented about "incidental exercise" yesterday on my post. I got some of that and bought three new (to me) tops. They're looser than I've been wearing without the need for a Demis Roussos kaftan.

Later I drove to Marion to run more errands. I parked near the entrance in the underground carpark to be in the shade. After finishing there I did more incidental exercise, walking across the rather large carpark to the library. While I was over there I visited Gallery M where I found a wonderful Bat Mitzvah present for a young friend. Then I walked back to the car feeling self-righteous about how I had done my bit to save the environment and gotten some exercise in the process.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Those Sneaky Snacks

I did my weekly shopping, as per usual, at the end of last week. I feel pretty good about the origin and ownership of most of the grocery items I purchase. As I’ve written on numerous occasions, for me, ethicality trumps eco-friendly when they come into conflict. Many of the not so benevolent multi-national companies have jumped on-board the eco-friendly product bandwagon while still doing untold harm to the environment and/or their workers.

There was something that bugged me when I shopped last week, however. I’ve slowly let more processed foods creep into my trolley. Because the ones I buy are reasonably healthy and ethical I’ve let it happen. I don’t really think it’s okay, though. The more I buy that’s processed the more packaging I’m throwing into the rubbish. Even if the packaging is recyclable there is fossil fuel energy used in the process.

I don’t even know why I’ve been doing it. We always have snack appropriate food in the house anyway. It may not involve instant gratification but is that a bad thing? So what if you have to wash a piece of fruit before eating it or cut some cheese to put on crackers? Is it really too much work to make a cheese and tomato toasty? It’s quick and easy to grab a handful of almonds or walnuts, which we usually have in the house. I know a good many of them are also packaged but, to me, they’re necessary food items. I’ve been buying rice snacks and banana chips. Goodness knows, we’ve got fresh bananas!

In the ideal world where I’m drowning in free time I’d have far fewer items and do much more cooking. I’d bake my own bread, crackers, wraps and rolls. I’d do my own pasta and muesli. I’d spend hours reducing kilos of tomatoes into passatta. For now, however, they’re some of my staples. That’s enough. No need for processed snacks.