Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back to the Source

Look down at the shirt you are wearing. (and if you are not wearing a shirt, I don't wanna know about it). Touch the fabric. Look at the color.

Who made it? Who cut the fabric, sewed the edges, attached the tag at the back of the neck?

And... who made the fabric? If it's a cotton shirt, who picked the cotton?

Crazy to think about, right?!

The September/October issue of GOOD magazine highlights a guy in Brooklyn named Scott Ballum who has pledged to spend a year meeting the people who produce the things that he buys. For example:

To drink his morning coffee, Ballum first introduced himself to the owner of his local cafe, then to the man who roasts the beans and, finally, to the Nicaraguan woman who grows them (conveniently, she was visiting Brooklyn). A lot of work for a cup of coffee, sure, but for Ballum, the rewards are obvious and tangible. In a disconnected world, he actually knows where his stuff comes from. ("Consumer Connection" by Andrew Price, GOOD Magazine, Sept/Oct 08, p. 30)

While I would love to make another trip to India to meet the guy who picks the leaves for the tea that I drink, I don't see that happening anytime soon. However, I do think I can do this on a smaller scale, e.g. buy produce at the farmers market and meet the folks who pick my veggies.

What's the point?:
  • The more stuff I accumulate, the more fuel and resources it takes to get the stuff to me. There is some value in knowing where my stuff comes from and trying to stick to local sources.
  • In a world where we can sometimes feel disconnected or isolated (take it from someone who works from a home office!) it's nice to remember that almost everything I use and own has been touched by human hands.
Scott Ballum is blogging about his experiences - check out his blog to learn more.

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