Recently I’ve read 2 books which have led me to really consider what I buy. I picked up Wardrobe Crisis by Clare Press (in April) as I thought it might help me know which shops where ethical to shop at from a human rights point of view. This book opened my eyes up to how big the issue is and that it is about more than factory workers getting a fair wage & being treated correctly. Environmental, sustainability & animal rights factors are also big issues.
After reading Wardrobe Crisis I was really struggling with where were good places to buy clothes without costing the earth (literally & figuratively). I then started to research on-line, particularly for places in Australia. I also found 2 Australian magazines (Peppermint & Slow) at the local library which were focused on this issue as well. One of these led me to reading Magnifeco by Kate Black (in July) which really helped me to think about what I want to value & spend my money on. Although this book was American it had lots of useful links & I have found out a lot more.
So with all this thinking, reading & research what have I found & what are my thoughts on the issue?
I really liked the acronym V.A.L.U.E., from the #magnifecobook. This article explains it, along with giving other tips. Each letter poses a question to help evaluate the purchase. It starts with: Do I need to buy it and does it need to be new? Could I rent, borrow or buy it second-hand? (Vintage). Could my purchase help an artisan community in a developing country (Artisan), or could it help a designer or maker in my own community (Local). Is the item saving something from landfill? (Upcycled) And, lastly, does this purchase match my values? Does it support animal rights (vegan), human rights (fairtrade) or environmental rights (eco-friendly)? (Ethical).
So really I am trying to buy less, reuse or buy second hand, & think about purchases carefully. I think I probably purchase less than the average women but like many people I probably only wear 20% or so of my wardrobe & would have bought fast fashion because it is cheap.
There are number of online stores that sell ethical clothing both in Australia & companies that ship internationally. I have bookmarked many. I am also trying to buy locally where possible as well.
- I found this list helpful as a starting point.
- The Shop Ethical website was also helpful.
- Baptist World Aid produces an Ethical Fashion Guide each year & so I have downloaded this years.
- The Good on You app has been helpful. Although as they rate on Labour, Environment & Animal they often don’t rates stores as highly as some that are rated highly on the Ethical Fashion guide.
- I’m also looking into Who gives a crap – toilet paper that builds toilets.
So for now I am trying to make sure that they at least get an A or a B on the Ethical Fashion Guide & making labour the higher priority.
So the purchases that I have made since April & how they fit with the V.A.L.U.E. acronym are:
- A backpack from a Beekeeper pop up store in Melbourne. It is made from upcycled denim, designed in Australia & made in Cambodia; with some of the profits going back to help a Cambodian child in their education. This product is upcycled & ethical, with the business having a policy of supporting people, animals & the environment.
- Some underwear & a singlet from Boody. They make basic essentials from bamboo. I like the fact that it is an Australian company that is ethical in terms of animal, human & environmental rights. I bought these products online with a 20% off code but have since found out that the pharmacy my daughter works at sells their products, so in future I will buy from them.
- A purple coat to wear to a wedding in Toowoomba in a few weeks (it will be colder than Brisbane). I bought the coat second hand from a local op shop. I am going to wear a dress that I already own & shoes that I already own. I may need to purchase some new stockings.
So I am trying to be more conscious of what I buy & to buy less. However I have bought 2 pairs of shoes, neither of which probably fit the ethical category but I needed to replace my black flats & didn’t own any beige flats. As it was my birthday recently I received a cardigan that may not fit the ethical category well but am keeping it at this stage. I also received a gift card for a local shopping centre but will consider carefully how I use it.
Although my thinking in this area has definitely changed, it is going to be a slow process to change my wardrobe & probably some of my habits.
What are your thoughts about shopping ethically?