I made an impulse purchase before the holidays. I don’t like to blame it on my ADHD, but it probably played a factor. I have some coping skills but they don’t always kick into high gear. But maybe it can be illustrative as a way of living intentionally. You see, I don’t want to hurt people with my purchasing decisions. Liberal-schmiberal crazy talk, yeah? Okay, but I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. In fact, as a side note, the one thing that the past five years or so taught me is that the whole system is on the brink of collapse. You can supply your own evidence as to why, I won’t waste your time here.
The purchases? A Breathe hoodie and sweatpants made from royal alpaca by a company called PAKA Apparrel. Okay, I got their sky blue crewneck sweater, too. They’re super soft, being made of alpaca hair. I love the business model that Kris Cody adopted when he founded PAKA. Every aspect of the products are down traced to their origins. Alpaca is one of the softest, warmest fibers on the planet. It isn’t oily like sheep’s wool, and it is hypoallergenic. It is also moisture-wicking and naturally odor-fighting. And since they’re basically hair and not wool, you can wash them with shampoo!
I don’t wear anything else but PAKA for more than six months of the year. It is equally comfortable for lounging around the house, heading out to do errands, or laying down five or ten miles of boot tracks in the forest. There’s nothing about Kris’s products that abuses workers or denies them fair compensation. And the resources are completely renewable. Yeah, there are still problems with supply chain drag on the environment, since they’re all sourced and manufactured in Peru and have to be shipped around the world. I wish they could be produced locally, but that isn’t possible. Some things will always have to be imported. Bananas grow in the tropics, so if you’re going to eat them, you’re eating their food miles, too. The Andes mountains are alpacas native environment. The same can be said about the artisans Kris works with to knit these clothes. These indigenous women have names and homes and families. They sign a tag on each garment they make. And they are paid fairly for a valuable product they create.
That is the only type of consumer transactions I want to make in my life. Intentionally. Every day. And if I can’t, I’ll do without. It isn’t always about finding the best product at the cheapest price. That’s how human beings get plowed over by corporate interests. It is what allows child laborers to glue your running shoes together for twenty-five cents an hour in a sweatshop.
Every purchase is a moral decision.
For me it is, anyhow, starting this year.
The plain truth is that it is for everyone, each time you transact. There are moral questions that should be answered before the exchange. We just don’t ask them. We actively avoid them so we can live with ourselves.
No, you don’t have to get the Big Box special price on every deal. With PAKA, I know I’m paying a fair price for a quality product. I know that the women who made my sweaters were paid well to make them. Does that make me feel good? Yes. So I bought the sweaters just to feel good about myself, right? No. I bought the sweaters because I needed sweaters. Kris allowed me to ask the big moral questions and click the Big Red Buy Button secure in the knowledge that the decision to purchase was morally licit. If my sweaters ever wear out, I hope PAKA is still around so I can order more from him and his team of textile artists.