Welcome to Advocacy Magic, my blog series about finding the enchantment in being an advocate! Today’s post is all about bringing out your inner ethical shopper and figuring out your ethical “style.” But first- why shop for ethical clothing in the first place?
Did you know…
- Most clothing is made by young women (as young as 14), and these women work an average of 14 hours a day earn less than $3 a day. The working conditions are substandard and they often face sexual harassment at work. Contrary to popular belief, clothing sweatshops do not alleviate poverty. Higher wages are not unachievable. In fact, if we were to double the salary of sweatshop workers, garment prices would only go up 1.8%.
- Only 10% of clothing that gets donated ends up being resold. What happens to the rest? 13 million tons a year end up in landfills in the U.S. alone. Some of it is shipped overseas. Much of it gets downcycled.
- The fashion industry is the 4th most polluting industry on the planet if measured by carbon emissions.
Those are just a few quick facts. Some other great resources are the Global Fashion Agenda and the documentary, The True Cost.
This blog is about finding life’s enchantment, and I think shopping more ethically can be a pretty enchanting experience. It’s all about finding the method (or methods) that works with your values, lifestyle, and budget, so I’ll explore a few different options so you can figure out what kind of ethical clothing shopper YOU are at heart.
- The Offbeat Shopper. If you’ve got a little more wiggle room in your budget and love finding something unique, consider checking out locally-made clothing. For instance, there is a company a few hours from me called Asheville Apparel that offers beautiful clothing and boasts that their clothes are “1400 miles from seed to shirt” to produce. These items tend to be a bit pricier because you are investing in the process, but you get the joy of knowing you contributed to your local economy and get a piece that is unique.
- The Thrifty Shopper. With my current grad-school budget, second-hand shopping is my favorite option. But really. Second-hand clothing is a steal these days. Because fashion retailers have so much turnover, you can find brand-new items with the tags still on for a fraction of the price they would be at a retail store. This is definitely the option for the thrifty shopper out there who loves a bargain. Two of my favorite options are Thred-Up and Clothes Mentor. Many towns also have upscale second-hand boutiques with only higher-end items.
- The Chic Shopper. If you like to always look on-point, consider skipping the fast-fashion brands like H&M or Forever 21 and instead invest in a few classic, quality pieces that will be stylish a lot longer. One example would be Cuyana, which boasts that “Fewer, better is the philosophy behind everything we do.” Consider coupling a timeless, chic look with a few statement pieces per season. Take a little time to learn about the process that goes into each clothing item and enjoy wearing them with pride.
- The Global Shopper. Want to bring out your inner boho style? Consider shopping fair trade. Sudara, for instance, makes fair-trade clothing that also aims to free women from sex trafficking.
- The I-Don’t-Wanna-Shop(er). Shopping not your thing? That’s cool too. One great way to avoid contributing to fast fashion is to shop less and to take some efforts to make your clothes last longer. Check out this handy guide to get some ideas for how to make the most out of the clothes you have.
Which shopper are you? Or are you a combination of several? If you have a suggestion not on this list, please feel free to share; I’m always about finding new ideas for ethical purchases.