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November 15, 2021 - No Comments!

A Conscious Christmas

-5 ways Christmas giving can be different this year-

Recently, during one of our online updates, we learnt that Australians were expected to spend around $18 billion on Christmas shopping. We also discovered that there would be about $1 billion in unwanted gifts given. That’s like - approximately 7.3 million Australians receiving gifts that they will never use, or wear, this Christmas! (The Australia Institute, 2019)

I don’t know about you but for our team at ZOE, the driver to become more conscious consumers is to prevent, and end, child labour in industries like the clothing/garment industry, makeup, agriculture (food, coffee), homewares and electrical goods. But we also feel that the environmental and health factors are huge drivers for change too.     

In our last blog post, Reconciling Our Consumer Habits in the light of Child Labour, we wrote that Australians are connected to the issue of child labour through the products that they consume. “When we want our products to be free of child labour, but don’t take any consumer action, we tell our suppliers that as long as it is accessible and affordable, we will buy it.” 

Or as Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” 

So how do we develop a more conscious attitude this Christmas in light of what we know about child labour, the waste factor, our budgets, and the expectations of our families and friends?  And how do we give a gift that will be treasured rather than wasted? It feels like a lot to juggle all those things!

As we mentioned in the last blog, there are tools available to assist us. There are ethical shopping apps such as ‘Good on You,’ ‘End Poverty,’ ‘Sweat and Toil’ and ‘Shop Ethical’ available for download. But there are other creative alternatives to curb our shopping habits too such as buying less, buying second-hand, reusing existing Christmas decorations rather than buying new ones, and considering what the people we’re giving to already have.

This quote speaks volumes to this topic, “This is not about being a Grinch, canceling Christmas or trying to pass a minimalist purity test. It’s about breaking out of a consumer mind-set that demands we constantly buy things — things that we then must care for and eventually dispose of.” (Annaliese Griffin, How to Buy Nothing New This Holiday Gifting Season, The New York Times, Nov. 7, 2021)

Using an online audience interaction platform at our last online update, we asked participants to contribute some of their creative ideas to be more conscious as we all step into the Christmas season.  We’re hoping that these suggestions will help equip you with some fresh ways to be more conscious as you plan your Christmas giving this year. And as ACRATH reminds us it’s about, “Placing the person at the centre of our Christmas shopping” because it is our actions and spending that impacts workers all around the world.

Idea #1

Make it a challenge*. Just like Annaliese Griffin says in, ‘How to Buy Nothing New This Holiday Gifting Season’, “Every year my husband and I set a holiday challenge for each other: Find a gift at the local thrift store, something delightful that is a reflection of our individual aesthetics or obsessions.” 

*And how about trying not to buy any new wrapping paper this year either. Reuse wrapping paper and cards, and get creative using fabric or other materials to wrap gifts.

Idea #2

Buy a plant, or something ‘living’. For people who love nature, gardening and flowers, there are Australian businesses that help to sustain people, land and culture through the propagation of native plants.

Idea #3

Support 100% Australian owned businesses. Find out about buying from local producers. Share with your family when you find ethical brands that have positive social impact.

Idea #4

Give a voucher (to cook a meal, babysit, mow the lawn, garden make-over, Op-shop voucher

etc.) Or make a home-made/ handmade gift. 

Idea #5

Give an experience (movie vouchers, day outing, restaurant, theatre tickets etc.) Or make a donation on behalf of a person to a cause you know they support.

It may take a little more effort on our behalf to get started, but when we truly care about the people who make our gifts - and the ones who we’re gifting them to - then it’s totally worth it. 

Remember that this is a journey. Developing a more conscious attitude towards purchasing at Christmas takes us from a place of ‘not knowing’ anything about what we’re buying, where it comes from, or who made it … and moves us towards ‘good’, ‘better’ and then ‘best’ choices. 

Let’s accept that it’s not about getting it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but more about using our awareness, and the information available, to make the most informed decisions we can - knowing that no one has all the answers on this topic to tell us exactly what we should do.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a conscious consumer, keep a lookout for our NEW upcoming course in 2022!

May 20, 2021 - No Comments!

Spotlight: ZOE Volunteers

Did you know that every week in Australia, 17.5 million steel cans are recycled? That is enough to build 900 cars! (recyclingnearyou.com.au)

Going through the rubbish to find steel cans is not what many of us think of when we picture ways to stop child trafficking but one Aussie man cares so much about the kids at ZOE, and seeing slavery ended, that he even digs through dumpsters to find cans that he can exchange for cash to raise money to send to Thailand.

And as if recycling cans wasn’t noble enough, Tony and his wife Margaret have also organized dinner auctions, barbeques at local markets, sold glow sticks at festivals, and even sold their chicken’s eggs all to help ZOE’s work in preventing, rescuing, and restoring children’s lives.

His daughter Rachael has also given profits she made from selling property, donated thousands of dollars to ZOE, and visited the children’s home several times.

Whether it be cutting 20 kg of onions, selling eggs at their workplaces, or “dumpster diving” (as Tony calls it), this family sure knows how to use every opportunity they have to be an inspiration and make a difference in the world.

Thank you Tony, Margaret, and Rachael! The way you choose to live your lives and the sacrifices you make to help the kids at ZOE, motivates all of us to do more and think about ways that we can use our time, resources, and money to be a change in the world.

April 15, 2021 - No Comments!

A Taste of ZOE

Written by Andrea Cross

On a cold Melbourne night in July 2019, my husband and I met Margaret at a ZOE prayer night. She offered to write a curriculum for churches to use in their kid’s ministry programs to encourage them to pray for children in slavery and those who have been rescued.

Since early 2020 when the planning began, the curriculum has been massaged and reviewed by several people, scripts written to match the content, and short videos recorded to enhance the learning experience. Finally now, after many months, the curriculum is ready to be released and provided free to churches, families and schools. 

Despite the fact that it’s written for children, as one of the people who has been working on the curriculum, it has spoken to me too and reminded me many times of God's character and promises. 

For example, many familiar Bible stories start with hopeless situations (Moses, Daniel, David and Goliath, Jonah, Noah). But just as Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together for our good, it’s important that we read and remember such stories. They change our thinking. They train our thoughts to be hope-filled. When we believe in God, we know that a situation that seems hopeless is not the end of the story! Our God is always good. When we invite God into our story, everything changes for good.

Working in the arena of child trafficking, the tasks that lay before us can oftentimes seem unachievable. Though there are days when we encounter ‘impossible’ situations that seem hopeless or too big, this curriculum reminded me again that God will anoint our work and give us ways to see problems through a different lens. It’s so wonderful that each theme in this prayer curriculum teaches children to see the world as God does, where no problem is too great and no child is out of His reach. It reminds children to ask God for ‘faith eyes’ to see things the way He sees them. Things that might seem impossible to us, are possible through His mighty power working through us!

There are 7 lessons included in this curriculum:

  • What is 'Hope' Like?
  • Eyes to See
  • We are Family
  • Finding a Way
  • God’s Treasure Hunt
  • Protection
  • Together is Better

And each lesson includes:

  • Warm-up (game or activity)
  • Group Time
  • Video
  • Reflection time/Talking with God
  • Small Group Time
  • Take Home Sheet
  • Comic Strip
  • Parent's Connect
  • Equipment List

The curriculum embraces topics such as trusting in God. Trusting in God means putting all our faith in His perfect love and letting go of all our fears. God has a plan. There is nothing God cannot do. It reminds children that they are a child of God and that He loves them. He walks with them. He encourages them. He protects them. He has a wonderful plan for them in this world.

It also covers how as God’s children they can ask God to give them Heaven’s ideas and plans to solve every need or problem here on earth. God wants them to see problems through His eyes of wisdom and understanding. He wants them to see challenges the way He sees them.

One of the most impactful lessons though is the one about the power in the words we speak and how our words create life or death! It encourages children to pray "No!” to the injustice of child slavery and poverty and declare it is not okay! And pray “Yes!” to life, declaring God’s promises over the children trapped in slavery. 

If you or your church would like a free copy of this curriculum, please contact us at info@goZOE.org.au and we will gladly share this free resource with you. 

For more info CLICK HERE