For some Christians, Lent is the annual season of giving up comforts for 40 days. The practice of fasting has been documented throughout history, but Lent was formalised following the Council of Nicea in 325 CE. In place of eating or consuming, Christians focus on repentance, contemplation and learning as we seek forgiveness, renewal and greater dedication to God.

The Bible also calls us to look outwards when we fast – both to God and our world. The prophet Isaiah calls us to break the chains of injustice and set the oppressed free:

‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?’–Isaiah 58:6

Over the last two years, our world has experienced a dramatic increase in global poverty. There are more slaves today than at any time in history – and sadly, we all play a role through the clothes we wear, the food we eat and the coffee we drink.

But here’s the good news. Even in a fractured world, God brings us hope and wholeness. The love and example of Jesus spurs us on so that we can approach issues of modern slavery in our world with hope, tenacity and a whole lot of prayer. That means we can even make good choices in what to consume—or not to consume!

This Lent, we at Baptist World Aid Australia are focusing on justice in the fashion industry and fasting from fashion shopping for 40 days. We invite you to join us.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to do justice, take action, care for the vulnerable and exploited, and make right what is wrong. There is no justice until everyone has justice – including those whom the fast fashion industry exploits. As consumers, we can play a part when we decide not to buy garments that participate in this cycle.

It’s also good for our souls to learn that happiness is not attached to material things, but a joy we pursue and bursts forth from the soil of gratitude. This Lent, let’s be grateful for what we have, instead of craving more.

Across the six weeks of Lent, here are six things you can do to help transform the fashion industry:

Fast from fashion.

Take a break from buying fashion and instead, when you feel the urge to buy something new, ask yourself: do I really need it? Could I borrow something or repurpose something I already have instead? Perhaps you’ll find you don’t need all the things you thought you needed to be happy.

Learn more about fast fashion.

There are lots of ways to learn about the negative impact of the fashion industry on people and the planet. See our website for resources including our Ethical Fashion Report.

Talk to a friend about modern slavery.

Need some ideas? Read our tips for having meaningful conversations about ethical fashion here.

Keep a diary.

Make note of the time you would have spent shopping in-store or browsing online and what you would have spent – you may be surprised by the time and money you save!

Send an email.

Through the Brand Finder on our website, select one of your favourite brands and click Speak Out To This Brand to send them an email, asking them to do more to protect garment workers from exploitation.

Pray for those trapped in slavery.

Jesus says, ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’ –Mark 11:24. Here’s a prayer that you might find helpful:

Jesus, we acknowledge that you are righteous and love justice. Created in your image, we weren’t created for comfort and convenience. Teach us to change the way we live to give ourselves and others, true freedom and fullness of life.

And as we change, Jesus, change us from the inside out. If our current ways cause harm and pain to others, we don’t want them anymore. Instead, we seek transformation. Connect us with your heart for all people and as we rejoice in our renewal, we repent of the wrongs of the past and by your grace, seek to make a better world for all.

Through these actions, we hope you can examine your own lives deeply, see the world more truthfully and pray fervently. In a beautiful world that has often celebrated a fast pace, excess and convenience, it may just feel joyously rebellious to slow down, say no, buy less and live more simply.