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The Links That Changed Me | December 2020

ethical consumption news

Ethical Consumption News & More

For some reason, these link lists are the first thing to be put on the back-burner, even though I know people really enjoy them. I’m almost done with my third and final term paper, and then I’ll have almost two months off (a consequence of shortened semesters due to Covid)! I’m hoping to read some good fantasy and sci-fi, and finally finish The Body Keeps the Score. I wanted to establish a weekly jogging routine, but after rolling my ankle on a mild hike, I realize my ankle still needs some strengthening before I start doing higher-impact activities. So, walking will have to do.

You can probably tell, as you scan this post, that I started using my school-provided subscription to the New York Times. I used to pay to subscribe – and probably will again after my program is over – so I highly recommend it. It’s helpful to get news from a site with high journalistic integrity and a range of opinion voices. They’ll also deliver a daily brief each morning, which gives me some good data without overwhelming me. Since I’m no longer using twitter or facebook to receive my news, this has been a great alternative.

Consumer Ethics

The Twilight of the Ethical Consumer

“What did all of my decades of Ethical Consumerism do to protect these workers and raise their wages? Nothing. My Ethical Consumption couldn’t protect Black and brown people from dying and getting critically ill in far higher percentages than white people during the pandemic. It hasn’t put a dent in climate change or plastic pollution. It couldn’t even protect retail workers, even those employed in “ethical” chain stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, who had to keep working as the virus spread often because they don’t earn enough money to stay home.”

Related: It’s Time to Stop Looking to Brands to Save Us

“If mere conscious consumerism really worked, Cline argued in the piece, we would’ve seen bigger change by now. Instead, the very companies that those conscious consumers have been supporting by “voting with their dollars” have proven themselves incapable of fully living up to their own professed values. Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be “cancelled” into bankruptcy — just that treating them as inherently more trustworthy than the government or religion or the media is a faulty strategy.”

Apple is lobbying against a bill aimed at stopping forced labor in China

“With an estimated 1 million to 2 million people placed in camps, human rights groups have called the situation in Xinjiang a cultural genocide. Some of those who “graduate” from the camps by renouncing Islam and learning to speak fluent Mandarin have been moved to factories in Xinjiang and surrounding regions.”

Higg Says Natural Fibers Are Worse for the Environment than Synthetics. Is That True?

“In many cases, comparing between material categories doesn’t make sense,” a rep answered. “If customers are looking for cotton t-shirts, I can’t just switch to polyester since the functionality of the material is different. I should focus on what I can do to lower the impacts of my cotton t-shirt (such as by using recycled content). There are going to be instances where comparing across categories does make sense, when materials perform similar functions, but understanding any differences in performance and functionality is always important to consider.” 

Report: Many Returned Products Thrown Out Instead Of Resold

“It doesn’t seem like a big deal to us, but it’s actually turning out to be a major cost to the companies that have to deal with those returns and massive volumes of those returns at that. So companies have to foot the bill for inspecting a product once you return it. Was it damaged? Did you spill on it? Did you wrinkle it? Is there hidden damage that they can’t see? And that’s not always easy to detect. And so for some companies, it’s actually for certain products are going to be easier just to trash the item than to actually put it back on shelves.”

Having Difficult Conversations

Nine Nonobvious Ways to Have Deeper Conversations

‘The midwife model. Sometimes people talk to solve a person’s problem. The Rev. Margaret Guenther wrote that a good conversationalist in these cases is like a midwife, helping the other person give birth to her own child. That means spending a lot of time patiently listening to the other person teach herself through her narration, bringing forth her unthought thoughts, sitting with an issue as it slowly changes under the pressure of joint attention. “To influence actions,” neuroscientist Tali Sharot writes, “you need to give people a sense of control.”’

Complicating the Narratives

‘Intractable conflicts feed upon themselves. The more we try to stop the conflict, the worse it gets. These feuds “seem to have a power of their own that is inexplicable and total, driving people and groups to act in ways that go against their best interests and sow the seeds of their ruin,” Coleman writes. “We often think we understand these conflicts and can choose how to react to them, that we have options. We are usually mistaken, however.”’

Race and America

Teaching Racial Justice Isn’t Racial Justice

“This again is not to say that students do not benefit from encountering diverse perspectives and marginalized voices, but simply that such an encounter does not in itself put them in touch with the political considerations behind movements that advance the struggle for racial justice. If we free ourselves of the notion that education is social change, then we can begin to think of education about social change.”

Liberals Envisioned a Multiracial Coalition. Voters of Color Had Other Ideas.

“‘People of color’ is a term that’s been adopted by the cultural left as a way of arguing that if these groups proportionately voted Democratic in the past, they will do so in the future,” Mr. Judis said. “I don’t see how you can make the argument.”

Christianity and Politics

How Corporate America Invented Christian America

“It was a watershed moment—the beginning of a movement that would advance over the 1940s and early 1950s a new blend of conservative religion, economics and politics that one observer aptly anointed “Christian libertarianism.” Fifield and like-minded ministers saw Christianity and capitalism as inextricably intertwined, and argued that spreading the gospel of one required spreading the gospel of the other. The two systems had been linked before, of course, but always in terms of their shared social characteristics. Fifield’s innovation was his insistence that Christianity and capitalism were political soul mates, first and foremost.”

The Real Origins of the Religious Right

‘When the Roe decision was handed down, W. A. Criswell, the Southern Baptist Convention’s former president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—also one of the most famous fundamentalists of the 20th century—was pleased: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” he said, “and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.”’

What I’ve Been Watching:

I just finished watching Gilmore Girls all the way through. I had seen most of seasons 1-6, but stopped watching at the beginning of season 7. Show-runners, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, had left the show by then, but I found the script surprisingly robust, and in some cases, even better than earlier seasons. There’s one episode where Logan chews Rory out for her privilege and it is excellent.

I also watched the American Ballet Theatre’s recent YouTube special, which included some stunning pieces. They also premiered a few dances from The Nutcracker over the weekend. If you are a fellow dance lover, I highly recommend Netflix’s Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, which profiles Debbie Allen’s LA dance studio’s annual Nutcracker adaptation, filmed during the 2018 season. It was sooo good. I cried…a lot.

Last but not least: we’re back to our old standby, Frasier, which gets better and better every time I watch it.


Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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Thursday 17th of December 2020

So many fascinating articles here! Thanks for this Leah!

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