Sunday, December 4, 2016

Shedding impotence

Short recap: There's Trump and Brexit, a whole bunch of facist leaders rising in Europe, endless killing in Aleppo and the US army fighting peaceful protestors of its own country at Standing Rock in North Dakota. With soon 8 billion people, there's more pollution than ever, top soils are eroding at an larming rate, plastic is replacing fish in the oceans and millions of modern slaves all over Asia are producing our x-mas gifts. We're not doing too well, are we?

This is only a small extract of all the things that are going wrong. The list is long, very long! So long that it's very tempting to put the whole damn list aside and get ridiculously stoned or drunk or watch some crap on TV. Anything to distract from reality! The problems are just too big and way beyond our reach – we can't change anything anyway, can we? We're too small, too powerless, too insignificant. And so we start to feel more and more impotent and put our hopes in someone else. Someone else will sort it out, someone else will make it all good again. But guess what? That someone else is you and me because without us, nothing will happen!

So it's time to shed the illusion of impotence and to take back our power. How? Through our every day choices! Here are four things that we all use: food, clothes, banking and transport. There's more of course, like housing, hygiene, computers, etc., but I haven't looked into them enough. If you have more experience in some of these fields, please inspire us! Now, back to the four:

FOOD – some of you might be tired of me constantly advocating organic and local food, but it's just so crucial and probably the most powerful thing we can do. Unless you've managed to live of sunlight, you eat food every single day. So every single day you can choose which kind of world you want to support: a healthy and sustainable one, or a destructive one.

CLOTHES – like food, you use them every day. But who makes your clothes? Do you really want to wear stuff for which other people and the planet have to suffer? Yes, ethically produced clothes are more expensive (or more precisely, most other clothes today are far too cheap and don't reflect the true cost of their production), but again, it's about choosing. For the last couple of years most of the clothes that I bought were organic and fairtrade, and I'd say about 80% of all the people I know have a higher monthly income than I do. So if I can do it, at least 80% of the people who read this can do the same.

BANKING – this is an often overlooked choice, but also a very powerful one. And it's so simple: There are ethical banks which invest your money in social and sustainable projects. There is absolutely no need to let greedy investors use your money for wars and other profitable but very harming business models. It's your money – you decide what it does.

TRANSPORT – cars and planes are great because they offer us freedom. But they have two big disadvantages: 1) they are polluting the air that we breathe and 2) they rely on oil, which means that whoever uses cars and planes is supporting the rather dubious practices of the oil companies. There's cycling, bus riding, train travelling and car sharing – anything that reduces our consumption of oil is good. And yes, in a way I might seem hypocritical here because I still fly and drive sometimes, but I'm working on reducing it. I also don't think any of this is about being perfect. It's about making progress towards a better, fairer and more beautiful world – one step at a time.

Having said all that, I'd like to introduce you to one of the steps that I've recently made myself. Here's the story: For six years I've been writing this blog, called 'reflections on changing times'. Furthermore I'm making my living writing books, which is wonderful and I feel very grateful for being able to do it. However, while words on paper and screen can certainly inspire change, ultimately words alone won't change anything. So the last few years I felt a desire to apply some of the things I write about to a business project. I wanted to be able to offer a product that is both essential AND ethical. Although, I must admit that I'm not sure if I'm the best person for a sales job – in my life I already tried to sell postcards, calenders, chocolate, houses and turbans (no joke!), and with all I failed miserably, at least from a financial point of view. But hey, it's always fun to start a new adventure...

Long story short: I've started a clothing label with the name COTTON POET – combining words and ethics with an everyday product like a t-shirt.

All shirts (and tank tops for the ladies) are certified organic and fairtrade, and they are really soft to wear too! The colours used for the screenprinting are both organic and vegan, and all shirts were printed on full moon. Ok, the last one is a lie. But here's something else that's true: FREE worldwide shipping until the end of 2016!

Happy Christmas!

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