I love a good deal. You will often find me at the grocery store looking for the best unit price on a given product. But what I didn't know was that my blind frugality would often support the destruction of the environment and the exploitation of people all along the supply line of the products I bought.
I grew up in Seattle, so Green values were instilled in me. I would take a bottle across town to recycle it. I was one of an increasing number of Christians who feels compelled by our faith to steward the earth. I think the values were there. However, I told myself that spending a little on everyday products and giving the extra to charity was being a good steward. This point of view fails to see the big picture.
My turning point was seeing a documentary called The Dark Side of Chocolate. It exposes how much of the chocolate available in the average grocery store comes from cocoa suppliers that will traffic and enslave children to work on their plantations. At first I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to be forced to spend more. But after I saw the faces of the children sold into slavery, I moved from being bothered by guilt to being convicted through compassion.
So I started to only buy slave-free chocolate whenever I could. This is how I got involved in an initiative called LoGOFF -- Local, Green, Organic, Fair (Trade), Free (No Slaves) which was started by my friend and colleague, Jonathan Walton.
My next step was watching a documentary called Fresh. This revealed how food purchases have long-term effects on our own health, the environment, and communities of people around the world. According to the research in Fresh, mid-scale sustainable farms have a higher yield per acre than large factory farms. The food is also healthier for us, will provide increased wages, and is much better for the environment. Our purchases have a holistic effect. Now when I spend more on organic products, I don't grit my teeth because I am throwing money down the drain, but I know I am actually making an investment in the greater good.
Many organizations and individuals are doing great work to change every level of our broken system: from suppliers, to manufacturers, to retailers, to consumers. LoGOFF is focused on turning consumers into stewards. We are starting with our sphere of influence, college students. LoGOFF was birthed out of an organization called InterVarsity Christian Fellowship that works with college students on over 600 campuses around the country. And we are launching as a part of an anti-human trafficking campaign called Price of Life until Oct. 10 in New York City.
Students these days have grown up in an environment that makes them prone to be properly labeled as the "Me Generation." But we see a generation who is discontent with the state of the world but that also has hope. We see a generation that could change the world.
My journey took time and it is still not over. Even individuals and companies who have caught the vision take time to change. We need patience and grace for ourselves and for others throughout the process. But for all our sake, this change must happen.
I invite you to take the first steps us by downloading the LoGOFF App. This is our contribution to a greater movement.