Reading between the lines: Joey’s global connections
Joey’s trip to the mall has a lot more connections to global issues than you might think.
By Josh Martin
World Vision Youth Team
Meet Joey. He’s 17 years old and maybe enjoying his summer vacation a bit too much. Last night Joey went to a party. And after a heated debate about whether Batman could ever beat Superman in a fight, his cell phone gets tossed into the pool.
The next morning Joey wakes up and hops online. He quickly un-tags himself from a few unflattering photos of him hugging his ex-girlfriend and hopes that his current girlfriend hasn’t seen them yet.
Stumbling downstairs, Joey puts a kettle on and makes himself a coffee. A much, much needed coffee after a late, late night.
As the caffeine works its way into Joey’s veins, he perks up enough to get his butt in gear. He heads back upstairs and throws on a pair of jeans and a grabs a t-shirt from the dirty laundry basket. He likes the shirt, and come on: it doesn’t smell that bad yet.
Joey checks himself out in the bathroom mirror. Satisfied that he’s looking much less zombie-like, he turns the faucet on to brush his teeth. A few minutes later he flips the faucet off and gargles mouthwash for a second time. His shirt may not smell that bad but he’s been told his morning breath does.
Tossing his old—and now extremely waterlogged—phone into the trashcan, Joey grabs his Mom’s car keys and heads for the door. He waves hello to his cute neighbour just as his Mom pokes her head out the door and yells, “Don’t forget, you need new underwear!”
Joey’s face goes red. 70% embarrassment. 30% furious anger at his mother.
A few minutes later Joey arrives at the mall. Halfway to the phone store he dives behind a giant fake plant as his ex-girlfriend walks by. He hides out in the plastic foliage long enough to be sure she’s gone.
Emerging from behind the plant, Joey heads to the phone store to buy a new one. He makes a mental note to buy his girlfriend chocolates while he’s here. Depending on whether she’s seen those Facebook photos, he may have some explaining to do.
When we’re disconnected from the effects that our consumer and life choices have on the world, it’s easy to overlook them. When you read Joey’s story, you don’t automatically see the connections to global issues. At first glance, it’s just a story about a smelly doofus who’s probably going to get dumped by his girlfriend.
But when you look closer and read between the lines, the seemingly innocent and everyday choices Joey makes are chock full of global connections.
Here are some you might not have noticed at first glance:
- The coffee. Check the label. Is Joey’s cup o’ joe supporting child labour? Buying FairTrade certified coffee helps ensure that no child labour was used and that the farmers receive a fair living wage for their work.
- The closet. Joey’s t-shirt may not be the only thing that stinks here. The global textile industry has had many problems over the years with sweatshops and child labour. Do your homework and identify companies with solid anti-sweatshop policies.
- The bathroom. Water is poised to be the battleground of the future. Water scarcity is a serious issue that affects billions of people around the world. We all have a part to play in water conservation and shutting off the faucet while brushing his teeth is one way Joey can help.
- The phone. Electronic waste, like Joey’s soggy phone, is a toxic problem that often gets dumped in developing countries. Proper disposal of electronics helps protect children from being exposed to dangerous work and deadly toxins.
- The car. Climate change causes extreme weather around the world. Prolonged droughts and poor rains in places like West Africa can lead to hunger and famine. And it’s people like Joey in the developed world who are dumping the bulk of the greenhouse emissions into the air. Choosing to bike, bus or walk to the mall would have reduced Joey’s carbon footprint.
- The chocolates. Like the coffee, let’s hope Joey looks for FairTrade certified sweets. It may not be enough to keep his girlfriend from kicking him to the curb, but at least he’ll have an ethical treat to gorge himself with after the break-up.
We live in a globally-connected world. And it’s important to remember that our everyday choices can have far-reaching consequences.
What are some lifestyle choices you make to help build a better world for children?
- Buy Fair Trade. Check out our Shopping for Change guide.
- Join the Help Wanted campaign and speak out against child labour.
- Take action in support of the people in West Africa.
- Reduce your carbon footprint: check out this carbon footprint calculator and identify ways you can be more environmentally friendly.