THE COST OF A PAIR OF JEANS

http://www.gapcanada.ca/browse/product.do?cid=48599&vid=1&pid=286007As consumers become increasingly aware of globalisation and the social and environmental impacts of product consumption, many businesses are recognising the value of adopting a triple bottom line.

According to a 2009 Economist article, the idea of the triple bottom line is to measure not only traditional corporate profit, but also an organisation’s social and environmental responsibility. The triple bottom line, therefore, consists of three Ps: profit, people, and planet [1].

While some organisations strive to improve their three Ps, what if we, as consumers, rewarded businesses by considering our own triple bottom line when making purchasing choices?

Whether planning a vacation, choosing which apples to buy, or scouring the mall for that perfect pair of jeans, most consumers consider personal profit versus cost. “How much will I wear these jeans and how much will I enjoy wearing them, relative to how much they cost?”

Consumers may assess the value of a purchase in different ways; however, value is typically weighed against one thing: the price tag.

But what if we began to assess the cost of products not solely based on the cost to us, but also on the cost to other people and to the environment?

There are few items in my wardrobe that I love more than my dark-wash skinny jeans. As a thrift-store junkie with a small clothing budget, I baulked at the $79 price tag but reasoned that “I’ll wear them all the time.” And I do. The cost per day of wearing those jeans — combined with how sexy they make me feel — makes the price seem relatively low.

But is $79 the true cost of my jeans? No; that was the temporary cost to me (minus taxes, of course). The long-lasting costs to the environment and to people around the globe goes much deeper than how deep I had to dig into my wallet.

And so, I present the true cost of my jeans:

  • COST #1: Cotton Sourcinghttp://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/organic-farming-gives-indian-farmers-greater-financial-security/

To make jeans, you need cotton. According to Dr Vandana Shiva, a physicist, agricultural researcher, environmental activist, and the founder of Navdanya — a global movement to save seeds and protect farmers’ rights in India — official government data reports a quarter of a million farm suicides in India over the past 15 years. The majority of these suicides were in the cotton belt [2].

Until ten years ago, farmers owned 80% of the seeds used by the Indian cotton industry. Seeds were saved and replanted at no cost to the farmer [2]. Today, the American company Monsanto owns and controls 95% of the seeds available to cotton farmers [2]. Monsanto’s genetically modified seed variety is not only expensive to purchase; it is ridden with hidden costs.

GMO farming requires an increase in the use of pesticides — also owned by Monsanto [2]. This decreases farmers’ profits and prevents cotton from being grown as an intercrop with food [2]. Farmers and their families are left profitless and starving.

The cotton used to make my beloved GAP 1969 Skinny Jeans may or may not have come from India. Unfortunately, GAP did not respond to Ethical Consumer‘s requests for its cotton sourcing policy, and company websites are void of such information [3].

The woes of Indian cotton farmers, however, are not unique to India. According to the Environmental Justice Foundation’s website, www.ejfoundation.org, Uzbekistan’s cotton industry — the third largest in the world — is raging with forced child labour, human rights violations, excessive pesticide use, and environmental catastrophes [3].

On the upside, an Environmental Justice Foundation campaigner named GAP as one of few companies who have made an effort to eliminate Uzbek cotton from their supply chains [3].

Still, because of the prevalence of GM cotton in the global industry and because GAP makes no mention of GM cotton on its company website, Ethical Consumer considers it safe to assume that GAP clothing contains genetically modified cotton [3].

COST ASSESSMENT:

Environmental devastation due to increased pesticide use and the run-off of pesticides into water supplies [3].

Starvation & lack of food security due to farmers’ lack of profits, increase in debt, and the inability to intercrop GM cotton fields with food [2].

Human life: suicides; poisoning; malnutrition — past, present, and future [2].

-Carbon footprint: 4.2 kg CO2e. The carbon footprint of cotton is 7kg CO2e per 1kg of cotton and the average weight of a pair of jeans is o.6kg [4].

Suddenly, $79 doesn’t seem so bad.

  • COST #2: Milling, Dying and Treating

Once the cotton is grown, it must be milled and dyed. There is not much information concerning the environmental and social costs of cotton mills, except that cotton — previously milled locally and in small batches — is now typically milled in factory farms in China. These factories are reported to have poor working conditions and enormous environmental impacts [2].

The good news is (for me, who loves her dark-wash skinnys): the dying process with the worst environmental and social impact is the one required to achieve faded and “distressed” jeans [3]. These jeans are typically sandblasted — a process that makes workers liable to contract silicosis, a fatal lung disease [3].

Though dark-wash jeans are not sandblasted and GAP is not on the list of of companies selling sandblasted jeans, Old Navy (owned by GAP) is on the list [3]. The production of my dark-wash skinnys, therefore, may not have played a direct roll in the death of factory workers, however my $79 did support a company that is indirectly responsible for supporting factories whose working conditions cause silicosis [3].

Regardless of their “wash,” all jeans (with the exception of those explicitly labelled “raw”) use copious amounts of water both in the dying and manufacturing stages. The environmental and social costs of excessive water use are many, especially in the countries where jeans are typically dyed and manufactured [3].

GAP is, however, committed to a Clean Water initiative which ensures that all water used in the dying and manufacturing of their jeans leaves the factories clean and safe for drinking [5].

COST ASSESSMENT:

-Factory conditions causing fatal disease due to supporting a company that sells sandblasted jeans [3].

-Environmental and social sustainability problems due to the excessive water use necessary for dying and manufacturing jeans in countries where water is scarce [3] — a cost that is somewhat outweighed by GAP’s Clean Water initiative [5].

Carbon footprint: approximately 0.8 kg CO2e. This accounts for the dying, water usage, and waste [4].

  • COST #3: Manufacturing

According to an article published by the Sunday Times in August, 2009 [3] and to the Environmental Journalist, a Lesotho factory that produced jeans for major US retailers including GAP was found to be dumping chemical waste into rivers. This posed a major hazard to the environment, to public health, and especially to children [6][3].

The CSR Asia Weekly reported (in Vol. 2 Week 25) a similar environmental catastrophe caused by a Hong Kong factory that also supplied GAP [3].

Other alarming incidents occurring at factories supplying GAP include a fatal factory fire in Bangladesh and the death of a baby born in a factory. The baby’s mother was supposedly denied temporary leave even after going into labour [3].

Despite these allegations, GAP is reported to have responded to all such incidents with immediate investigations and courses of action [3].

Labour behind the Label gave GAP a score of 3.5 out of 5 on their progress towards the goal of a living wage for all. They reported that GAP has impressive in-depth plans reaching seven different countries and has a strong commitment to trade union rights. The reason for the lower mark was simply that GAP’s actual progress has not been quick enough [3].

It is clear that, as a corporation, GAP is making a concerted effort to ensure that good working conditions and environmental standards are met in their overseas manufacturing plants. The truth remains, however, that environmental and social catastrophes have happened, and will likely continue to happen … all in the name of my Always Skinny Jeans.

COST ASSESSMENT:

-Deaths of factory workers due to poor environmental working conditions and unethical treatment [3].

-Public health risks due to toxic waste and the poisoning of water supplies [3][6].

-Environmental degradation due to toxic waste and the poisoning of water supplies [3][6].

-Carbon footprint: approximately 1 kg CO2e. This accounts for the cutting and sewing, the buttons, zippers, and labels, and the transportation [4].

Conclusions:

So, the social cost (or “people” cost) of my jeans includes: poverty, starvation, suicides, fatal diseases, the poisoning of water supplies, poor working conditions, and the unethical treatment of factory workers.

The environmental cost (or “planet” cost) of my jeans includes: mismanaged toxic waste, the poisoning of water supplies, excessive pesticide use, the abolition of seed diversity, the chemical poisoning of land that was once used to produce food, and a total carbon footprint of 6 kg CO2e.

And, lest we forget that $79 (plus tax). Ha!

The thing is, I could have done worse — much worse.

Ethical Consumer ranked 30 top-selling jean retailers according to their social and environmental responsibility. GAP ranked 16th with a score of 7.5 out of 20. The best retailer was Bishopston Fairtrade Organic Jeans [F, O] with a score of 16.5, and the worst was ASDA George (the brand owned and sold by Walmart) with a score of 0 [10].

GAP Inc. is not void of good intentions. It has joined the fight to eradicate human trafficking and slavery [7], is working towards sweatshop free labels [8], began campaigning against child labour (in response to allegations that GAPKids clothing was being hand-embroidered by children in Delhi) [9], and is a member of numerous lobby groups and business associations advocating for human rights and environmental protection [3].

Still, the road is long and the environmental and social costs along the way will be many.

Perhaps it is good to reward businesses that are — at very least — making an effort, but in the meantime, what can we do as consumers to push for faster action and to diminish  immediate social and environmental costs?

Recommendations:

Buy less and make your clothes last longer. Don’t forget: in the same way we can assess the monetary cost of a pair of jeans going down the more use we actually get out of them, the environmental and social costs per day will go down the more you manage to wear the same pair of jeans [4][11].

Go organic. As we noticed, the cost category with the most carbon impact and arguably the most long-lasting environmental and social consequences was the production of cotton itself. By purchasing clothing made from organic cotton you are choosing to support farmers that grow non- genetically modified cotton. You are thus increasing the farmers’ potential for profit, maintaining the ability to intercrop cotton with food, and are protecting the environment from harmful pesticides and chemicals used to grow GM cotton [2][3].

Support companies that have strong commitments to environmental and social responsibility. Do your research; the information is there. To help you get started, I have provided links (below) to useful websites for making socially and environmentally responsible clothing purchases.

Avoid faded and distressed jeans.

Buy second-hand. Consumers don’t generally purchase a new pair of jeans with their resale value in mind – and retailers know it. There is no question, therefore, that the best way to avoid contributing to environmental and social costs is to buy previously owned clothing. Often, the dollars you spend will even be going to charity rather than to major clothing retailers responsible for negative social and environmental impacts.

Better yet, plan a clothing swap with friends or within your community. Not only do you avoid nearly all monetary, environmental, and social costs, but you have the added value of making new friends and building community while acquiring “new to you” clothing.

Finally, recycle your old jeans. Tired of them? Don’t think anyone else will enjoy them? Recycle them! Old denim can be transformed into new jeans, other articles and accessories, and even sandals! As you can imagine, recycling denim reduces environmental and social costs considerably.

For information on how to recycle your jeans visit:

The Denim Doctor: www.thedenimdoctor.co.uk

Recycle Your Jeans: www.recycleyourjeans.com

Resources for more information:

Choosing the Right Retail Brands:

Labour Behind the Label

Ethical Consumer

Made-By

Assessing Environmental and Social Impacts:

The Story of Stuff Project

The Eden Project: Show me the carbon

Small World Consulting

Environmental Justice Foundation: Protecting People and Planet

Information on Cotton Sourcing:

Institute of Science in Society: Science Society Sustainability: Indian Cotton Farmers Betrayed

Navdanya – Links to Publications

Works Cited:

[1] The Economist. (2009, November 17th). Triple bottom line: It consists of three Ps: profit, people, and planet. The Economist: Idea. Retrieved March 24th, 2012, from http://www.economist.com/node/14301663

[2] CBCRadioOne. (March 16, 2012). Vandana Shiva (Feature Interview). The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti. CBC.ca. Retrieved March 20th, 2012 from http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/gamechanger/2012/03/16/vandana-shiva-feature-interview/

[3] Ethical Consumer. (September, October, 2011). Ethical Shopping Guide to Jeans. Ethical Consumer: Buyer’s Guide. Retrieved March 20th, 2012 from http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/clothing/jeans.aspx

[4] Berners-Lee, M. (2011). How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything. Profile Books Ltd. Great Britain.

[5] Gap Inc. (2012). More than what’s on the label. Melissa Fifield, Director, Environmental Affairs. Gap Inc. Retrieved March 24th, 2012 from http://www.gapinc.com/content/gapinc/html/blog/2011/03/gap_inc_joins_susta.html

[6] Miri, M. (August 12th, 2009). Clothing Giants Responsible for Toxic Waste in Africa. Environmentalist Journal. Retrieved March 24th, 2012 from http://www.environmentalistjournal.com/2009/08/clothing-giants-responsible-for-toxic.html

[7] Chain Store Reaction. (2012). GAP – Maureen Coyan. Retrieved March 24th, 2012 from http://chainstorereaction.com/act/company/116/

[8] McDougall, D. (November 4th, 2007). US: GAP plans “sweatshop free” labels. The Guardian. Retrieved March 24th, 2012 from http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14788

[9] Gentleman, A. (November 15th, 2007). US: GAP campaigns against child labour. The New York Times. Retrieved March 24th, 2012 from http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14830

[10] Ethical Consumer. (September & October, 2011). Free Shopping Guide to Jeans. Ethical Consumer. Retrieved March 24th, 2012 from http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/clothing/jeans.aspx

[11] Labour Behind the Label. (2012). Could you take the six item challenge? Retrieved March 25th, 2012 from http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/support-us/item/1017-six-tems-challenge

Additional References:

Eden Project (2012). The carbon breakdown of wearing a pair of cotton jeans for a day. What’s your carbon footprint? Show me the carbon. Retrieved March 24th, 2012 from http://www.edenproject.com/whats-it-all-about/climate-and-environment/show-me-the-carbon

Factory farming. (2012, March 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:36, March 25, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Factory_farming&oldid=482812978

Genetically modified organism. (2012, March 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:15, March 25, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Genetically_modified_organism&oldid=483298750

Labour Behind the Label. (2012). Issues. Retrieved from http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/issues

Living wage. (2012, March 20). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:39, March 26, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Living_wage&oldid=482830588

Monsanto. (2012, March 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:57, March 25, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Monsanto&oldid=483680915

Silicosis. (2012, February 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:28, March 25, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Silicosis&oldid=478751849

The International Centre for Trade Union Rights. (2012). The Philosophy of trade union rights. Retrieved from http://www.ictur.org/Eng/Philosophy.html

Triple bottom line. (2012, March 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:38, March 24, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Triple_bottom_line&oldid=481595630

Posted in 2: Slippery Soap-Box | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SPAM TO STOP SPAM

I am spamming you because I hate spam.

Don’t we all? But see, the truth is: if spam didn’t work, there would be no spam. Spam exists because people respond to it. I’m begging you. STOP.

Here’s a few tips:

Email spammers can make the sender’s name show up as anything they want. They can also make the sender’s email address be whatever they want. It’s kind of like the return address on an envelope. Just because it says it’s from amazon.com, your BFF, or your mother, doesn’t mean it is.

If you didn’t recently purchase plane tickets, send a parcel, or open a Foursquare account, ignore the emails suggesting you did. (Duh.)

If you are led to believe that your bank, your credit card, or your Facebook account is imminently about to explode, splattering your personal information across the World Wide Web, check out snopes.com before taking action, or better yet, check out the organisation’s REAL website. Research, people. Honestly.

It’s great that you believe so passionately in a cause, but stop telling your friends that “if they don’t have the guts” to repost, resend, re-tweet, or otherwise regurgitate your sentiments, they are horrible people who don’t give a monkey’s bottom about the world. You didn’t say that? Well, actually, in so many words, you did. Please read carefully before forwarding a message.

Furthermore, I’m pretty sure there is no deity out there who is going to judge your faith based on how willing you are to evangelise through mouse clicking. The guilt-tripping can stop now.

If you care about your friends, your sister, your father, or those who lost great-aunts to the War of 1812, tell them so. Quite frankly, I don’t care.

You may think you’re helping your friends by sending them links to free coupons and great online deals, but really, you’re helping mass corporations by becoming part of the largest FREE source of marketing in the world.

And, for the love of all humanity:

Weight loss pills don’t work. Eat less crap. Exercise more. And know that your body type does not define you.

If you need Viagra, freakin’ get over it and ask your doctor. (And lay-off the cigarettes.)

And finally, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOUR PENIS. If you’re not getting laid, it’s probably because you’re a loser. How so? You buy penis enlargement pills online.

Together, we can stop spam. Together, we can stop being ignorant tools in the hands of spammers, and can regain some thread of human dignity.

If you think this message will benefit others, pass it along. If you don’t, then don’t. You will not lose friends on account of it; no puppies will die from your lack of action, and God will not strike you with a 300kA bolt of guilt. I promise.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Bronwyn

P.S. Oh, and that account in Nigeria that contains the thousands of dollars left to you in the will of some long forgotten relative? It doesn’t exist. Really.

Posted in 2: Slippery Soap-Box | 4 Comments

“FAITH LIKE A (SHELTERED) CHILD”

“Father God, thank you for this food. Thank you for Mommy and Daddy. Thank you for this food.” More eager to eat than any child since Oliver Twist, my daughter spits out her Grace as if speed counted for sincerity. Perhaps it does. “I’m soooo thankful for my dinner,” she says, “that I prayed for it twice!” Her bum wiggles side to side as she plunges a fork into her plate of cheesy spinach. “Yes. Aren’t we lucky that God gives us such yummy food,” I say.

Between mouthfuls of perogies, my daughter asks, “Mommy, what if God didn’t give us food? What if God forgot about us, and we didn’t get anything?”

“Oh, Sweet Pea, that would never happen,” I say, “God would never do that.” The words crash off my tongue and splatter on the kitchen table. I just lied to my child. Why did that seem like the most “natural” and “appropriate” response for a Christian mother to give her four-year-old? I hate regurgitating.

“Then why, Mommy, do some people not have food?” she asks, “Why do some kids starve?” It’s my fault. I’m the one who thought it was important to educate her about poverty, hunger, and social injustice. I’m the one who wanted her to grow up knowing that she belongs to a privileged minority, and that with great blessing comes great responsibility.

“Well, maybe some people don’t know to pray to God and ask for food.” I say. My intellectual honesty flies out the window, vomits in the alley, and returns to thwack me over the back of the head. “No … that’s not true.” I say. “There are plenty of people who pray to God and still starve to death.” My daughter stares at me blankly and wipes a smear of garlic Alfredo sauce off her nose. “It’s a very good question, Sweet Pea, and I don’t know the answer,” I say. We keep eating. The next words spoken are: “what’s for dessert?”

Faith is more than the sum of all that we know, either communally or individually. And for that, I am glad. Why then, did I feel so compelled to answer my daughter in a way that was “simple” — in a way that reinforced the stark absoluteness of her Sunday School lessons and the simplicity of the dogma permeating evangelical Christian children’s literature?

“Faith like a child.” We may wish we had it, but is it possible we have skewed the meaning — allowed it to conform to our own (false) ideas concerning children’s limited capacity to wonder and to cope with challenging unknowns? Were First Century Israeli children unaware of suffering in the world, and of the potential that they too might suffer, regardless of their faith?

To believe despite having unanswered questions and to have a faith unchallenged by the acknowledgement of mysteries is an awesomely divine gift. To seek shelter from the questions themselves, however, or, worse yet, to kid ourselves into believing intellectually dishonest answers is an odd thing to strive for at any age.

I want my daughter to grow-up knowing that the world is a complex, beautiful, and often inexplicably scary place, whether you’re a Christian or not. Am I depriving her of an education in “simple” child-like faith?

Posted in 2: Slippery Soap-Box, 3: Faith, Parenting 101 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yours to Discover

We’re from BC. We’re ocean kayakers, rainforest hikers, mountain trekkers, and we know how to camp in the rain.

We moved to Ontario last February, and were horrified to see the summer nearly escape without a family wilderness adventure. Afraid of having our outdoorsy status revoked and of being demoted to “frauds with a basement full of gear,” we scrambled to plan a trip for the last weekend in September. Feeling proudly Ontarionian, we booked a backcountry campsite in Muskoka, borrowed a canoe, and rented a Jeep.

All day Friday, I packed to the sound of torrential downpours. “We’re from BC; we’re used to the rain,” my own words taunted me. “Very funny,” I scowled at the sky. But cancel, we could not. Cancel, we would not. We know how to camp in the rain, after all …

It was a wet Friday night, but having already left the house, we were determined to have a good time. We had rubber boots, rain pants, rain coats, tarps, dry-sacks, firewood, hot chocolate, an excellent all-weather tent, and a fuzzy foot warmer (e-hem, dog). I was actually looking forward to the challenge of “making shelter.”

On Saturday morning, however, we popped our heads out, held out our palms, and tentatively declared, “it’s not raining!” By noon the clouds had broken. The rest of the weekend was spent swimming, paddling, and asking Mom why she had forgotten to pack the sun hats.

Though we’ve enjoyed the outdoors for years, the adventure was full of family firsts: first time on an overnight canoe trip; first time seeing the flicker of auburns, reds, and browns glistening off the lake; first time seeing the fury of chipmunks and wood mice scurrying about with all manner of treasures held firmly in their jaws; first time thinking the sound of falling leaves must be rain (despite there not being a cloud in the sky); first time watching the stroke of my canoe paddle swoosh past floating maple leaves en route to photograph a loon. It was an oh-so-Canadian experience.

I still think we would have had a blast, even if it had been raining. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to experience one more “new” thing in Ontario that you just don’t find in BC: though streets may be flooding on a Friday–and regardless of what the forecast says–Ontario weather is quick to change and is very unpredictable. (Luckily for us.)

So, wherever your home is, and whatever the weather may be, take a chance! Get out in the wilderness and discover what new things are around you. Nature is full of beauty and adventure everywhere you go. As we were quick to learn, it’s “yours to discover!”

Posted in 1: Mommy's Musings, Kids Outside! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How do you end abortion without criminalizing it?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? But if you think the way to end abortion is to make it illegal and walk away, then may I ask you: did the Prohibition work?

I recently tweeted about the amazing 180 video. Well worth the watch. I had a question, however:

What does “vote to end abortion” mean? Will a vote to make abortion illegal actually “end abortion”?

A fellow tweeter responded: “It might not stop women from getting an abortion, but it will make it criminal and punishable by law.”

Well, yee-haw! Crime and punishment, oh boy! So I asked: “What is it you want, to end abortion, or to make criminals and punish them?” To all politically right-wing pro-lifers, I ask you the same question. Which do you want? They are two totally different things.

She responded by asking what I want–fair enough–and how I think abortion can be ended without criminalizing it. As inconvenient as it may be, the answer to that question simpy cannot be contained in 140 characters, nor can it be contained in a blog post. It is, however, a good question, and so, I share my preliminary thoughts.

Ending abortion must begin by creating a society that supports women in the act of bearing children. This means everything from providing basic healthcare (both to the mother and to the child) to monetary and social support for raising a child, to making sure that women will have equal opportunities in their career whether or not they choose to have a child.

Abortion is irrefutably linked to poverty. Not surprising, considering it is more expensive in many cases to pay the hospital bill for labour than to pay for an abortion. Not only are those faced by poverty often in desperate situations, they also lack education.

I am by no means suggesting this as a justification for abortion. In answer to the 180 video‘s question: “It is okay to kill a child in the womb when _______ ” I cannot and will not give an answer. I’m passionate about working towards a world with no abortion. I am pro-life. I just don’t see how the pro-life goal can be reached through right-wing politics. The issue of abortion must be addressed from a social standpoint. It is a moral issue, with social implications.

That’s what bugs me. Pro-life political rhetoric seems to suggest that when every state in America (and every province in Canada) has declared abortion illegal, their work is done. They can go home and celebrate their victory (and get busy … punishing?). That solves the problem for them, but it doesn’t solve the problem. How does it solve the problem for them? It allows them to feel righteous, to feel like they live in a righteous country, and to no longer have to deal with the “unrighteousness” around them. Such unrighteousness can be conveniently labelled as criminal activity, and can be shoved under the carpet with all of life’s other un-pleasantries so that conservatives can get back to good-clean living. Meanwhile, abortion continues. Out of feelings of abandonment, desperation and fear, women will hide themselves in the dirty underground and will tear babies out of their wombs with coat hangers. Many will die in the process; those that don’t can be tried and punished. Is this the pro-life solution? It’s a pathetic, insensitive, unedcauted, and entirely selfish solution.

I’m not saying that all those who have abortions are poor and are doing so for lack of money and resources. Many are not. I’m not saying that legislation to further regulate abortion, to limit abortion, and maybe to eventually make it illegal might not be part of the long term solution. Also, continuing to ensure that the world is talking about abortion, and is discussing the moral implications of abortion is imperative to the pro-life movement. If all you’re fighting for, however, is to make abortion illegal, you’re putting a Barbie Bandaid on a severed artery and walking away.

The issue is big; the problems are many. Through further efforts, however, to educate women about prevention and about the beauty of adoption (and the many parents on waitlists, longing for a child), through the provision of healthcare, resources, and community, social, and financial aid, and through overall efforts to eliminate poverty and to bring equal opportunity to all human beings–women, men, children, and unborn children alike, we can provide women with real choices, and can create a world where every child is a wanted child, and where abortions have ceased.

I am pro-life, but when it comes to “voting to end abortion,” I ask you, what does that mean?

Posted in 2: Slippery Soap-Box | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

WHEN CHILDHOOD DREAMS COME TRUE

When I was little, I used to dream about what kind of Mom I would some day like to be. I used to dream about building forts, climbing trees, scrambling up riverbeds and inventing make-believe worlds. I would someday invite my child(ren) to participate in my “worlds,” scamper over rocks, balance on logs, and get good and muddy–of course. In the meantime, my younger siblings were all too willing to play roles in the “world of Bronwyn” and to be accomplices in the production of much dirty laundry. (Sorry, Mom.)

At the time, I knew nothing of work, nothing of responsibility, nothing of the time and effort it took to actually make the picnic lunch appear in the backpack. “Enough grocery shopping, Mom. Enough fussing around the kitchen. Enough doing laundry. Let’s just go, already.”

That being said, now that I really am a mother, it is surprising just how much work always needs to be done. I never dreamed about being the Mom making sandwiches, hanging clothes on the line, and spending aeons on the telephone trying to register my daughter from swimming lessons. C’est la vie.

Today, I decided to let my inner-child (and my child) take priority over the countless chores that appear every morning–appear as if they have been mysteriously reproducing as I sleep. It was a hot day. I wanted so badly to wade upstream through the ravine. I wanted my daughter to want to wade with me. Both with rubber crocs, we sunk our feet into the mud and trudged through the water. At first, she was a bit nervous about losing her feet under stinky black goop, but eventually my excitement drew her in to the experience. We climbed over slimy rocks, walked along logs, explored dams and laughed as we inevitably slipped–sometimes into the mud, sometimes into the water that so graciously cleaned the mud off. We “eye-spyed” squirrels, told stories, pretended we were ducks, and chased water spiders.

We had frozen perogies for dinner. My husband heated them in the BBQ after he came home from work. There’s a sky-high pile of unfolded laundry on my bed and some interestingly scented clothes in the hamper. Was it worth it? You bet. I can’t wait to take my daughter back. Next time, I hope to bring buckets and bowls. We can make soup out of the debris floating down the ravine. We can divert the water and build whirl pools “for the ducks.” We can sit on the riverbed and observe the changing patterns in the sand.

Moms have responsibilities. Today I was reminded that it is our responsibility to create space for our children–space to be creative, to explore, and to be inspired by the same things that once inspired us. There’s nothing quite like water, sticks, and mud to stir the imagination.

This post is a copy of a post originally published on ActiveKidsClub.comOriginal Post: Link 

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WHAT THE RAIN BRINGS

What the rain brings: a beautiful sound to fall asleep to, a chance to puddle-stomp, the opportunity to wear brightly coloured, heart-printed boots, greenery, worms, and mushrooms!

A few years before our daughter was born, my husband and I were on a multi-day hiking excursion in the Olympic Mountain Range (Washington, USA). We met another group who had  just set up camp and were preparing their supper. Dried pasta? Dehydrated soup? The last of the soggy trial-mix? No. Mushrooms. Giant mushrooms, foraged early that day with a side of salad greens (also courtesy of the woods). “Well now, that is amazing!” My husband and I thought. “We simply must learn how to do that.”

And we did. Several pounds of literature later, we were ready to forage the mushrooms of the north Pacific Coast. Our guidelines: don’t eat anything that even loosely resembles something poisonous, and no munching until spore prints have been analysed and the massive anthology (too heavy for the backpack) has been consulted.

Eventually, we became experts at hunting select favourites–king boletes (porcinis), lobsters, chanterelles, and fairy rings. As these became “the family staples” we learned where to find them, how to easily identify them, and, what to do with them. Mmmmmm…

After our daughter was born, mushroom hunting continued to be a favourite family past-time. When autumn months brought the unending drizzle (which really is unending on the west coast of BC), we would rejoice. Mushrooms are here! Boots went on, rain gear went on, and off we went. We hunted mushrooms in parks less than half an hour from the city, in the woods, and even on excursions to the playground, the duck pond, and on my walk to work.

Our daughter learned to find mushrooms about when she learned to walk. She’s good at it–closer to the ground, you know? There’s no greater joy for a young child than being out in the wilderness on a real-live treasure hunt that ends on your dinner plate. For this reason, our family loves the rain.

This post is a copy of a post originally published on ActiveKidsClub.com. Original post: link.

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