This is our minute of record,
At Winchmore Hill Quaker Meeting House on 17th November 2012 we, some25 souls, gathered to consider issues surrounding the effects of our material consumption, particularly of clothes.
We were led by Kate Pearson who placed the issue in a Quaker context and by Ruth Tanner, Head of Policy and Campaigns at War on Want who brought that organisation’s knowledge, outlook and experience of action in this area.
We all buy clothes. We have heard that our clothes shopping has a significant effect on both the environment and people around the world.
There is a lot to learn. The right, ethical, action is not always obvious; the impact of our actions can seem complex and distant. The scale and ubiquity of the issues can seem overwhelming and disheartening.
What can we do?
We will educate ourselves and share what we learn. There are informed sources to facilitate informed choices for example Labour behind the Label, War on Want and Ethical Consumer magazine.hat we have learnt today will be gathered and shared with Local Meetings. We will prepare an education pack sharing resources with other experienced organisations. We will offer go into schools and lead informed discussions with young people on this issue.
We will be informed shoppers. Take what we know into the shops. Make good choices. Ask good questions.
We will buy less. The Quaker testimony of simplicity encourages us to buy less and to avoid choosing clothes that claim status. Overconsumption leads to careless choices and unnecessary strain on the environment.
We will be active citizens; Campaign for a living wage and the rights of organised labour; Seek the creation of an independent verifier of standards and accreditation; Emphasise the connectivity between the pressures on the conditions of workers at home and abroad and of our living together, connected and on one earth. Politics made enormous changes to the conditions of workers in the industrialising nations in the 18th and 19th centuries, trust that that can, and must, happen again for the whole world.
Quakers played a part in those changes. We know what can be achieved. We are not daunted by great issues. Quakers know how to be a single candle in the darkness. We are not however alone or indeed at the forefront in our concern on this issue but we can play a part.
Quaker testimonies and history give us both the responsibility and the voice to speak up and make a difference. Education is a vital element in the changes we wish to see. Quakers are great educators. Let us learn and go out and teach.
We recommend these commitments to our Local and Area Meetings.