The Parative Project

this flag won't change your life, but it will change someone else's


Ethical fashion is not as vanilla (ice) as you think

Drew Oxley

Thank you all for the positive response from our last entry. It is really encouraging to our family and we appreciate all the questions and comments about trying to consume ethically. 

I am giving my second entry a shot. Hopefully, I am not a one hit wonder like Vanilla Ice, but even if that's the case, I'm honored your giving this post a read (I never even tried any songs other than Ice Ice Baby... probably would've loved em all).

I remember when the ethical shopping bandit came knocking. It was after we received the "Our Freedom is Tied Together" shirts from India. I couldn't just keep consuming how I was and pretend it didn't affect other people, like the people making the clothes I was buying. I kept pulling the wool (sweater) over my eyes. But then I saw a video where someone described a garment being made and said "look at the seam in your shirt, someones hands sewed that, someones hands touched that seam." It was then that I lost my fast fashion appetite. The sight of even the most perfect pair of shoes, coolest shirt, or most comfortable pair of sweats became unappealing, if it meant it was made via forced labor or an unknown supply chain. 

Anyways, this whole thing isn't about me, its about all of us. If you were at all moved or inspired by the idea of shopping ethically and supporting brands that care about people and fair labor, we wanted to share some ideas to help make the transition smooth as fair trade butter:

1. Don't get rid of all the clothes you already have. Landfills are filled with clothes from one time wears and volunteer events where people didn't like their shirt. Americans send 10 million tons of clothes to the dump each year. If you like and wear the clothes you have, keep them and wear them! 

2. Take it one product at a time. If you want to start with coffee, find roasters that are Fair Trade Certified (There's several other organizations certifying ethical practices too!). If its clothes, contact brands you like and tell them you are wanting to buy clothes from companies that practice fair labor conditions and you were wondering about theirs. Small companies are usually pretty quick to respond to Facebook and Instagram messages. If you want to start with household items like soap and detergent check out GOOD GUIDE and make a list of brands you are proud to support.

3. Remember you are not alone. When your next door neighbor, cousin, friends, and dog are all not that interested in knowing who their products are made by, know there are other people trying to shop ethically and there are blogs and businesses dedicated to helping you. When it comes to this kind of thing it really doesn't matter what the majority is doing, you have to stick to what you think is right. 

and the best one yet...

5. ETHICAL CLOTHES DONT HAVE TO BE UGLY OR CRAZY EXPENSIVE. When we first walked down this road I thought I was doomed to wearing clothes that were made fair but just didn't look right. IT'S NOT TRUE. There are so many really cool and affordable brands that care about the environment and the people making their clothes. With a little research you will be sure to find at least a handful that have what you are looking for and are in your price range. 

Would love to hear any tips that have helped you to shop ethically. Feel free to leave them in the comments.

As Vanilla Ice once said, word to your mother.