What we buy impacts our world for better and worse. Things like sweatshops and child labor are symptoms of the immense poverty that exists in our world. I believe the apparel industry should play an important role in lifting families out of poverty, but it has a long way to go.
Here are a few tips and tricks on how to be an engaged consumer.
How to think
- Check the tags of your clothing everyday before you put them on. Take a moment and think about the hard work, sacrifice, and skill that went into making your garments. If you can’t locate the country on a map, find it.
- Become a brand champion – Be intentional about what you buy. Don’t buy on a whim. Checkout the brands or the stores before you buy to see if their ethics line up with yours. Find a brand and support it.
- Visit Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles
- Listen to my report on an Ethiopian shoe manufacturer changing lives one job at a time.
- Discover how transparent your favorite brand is by reading Free2Work’s Story Behind the Bar Code
- Arrange for your group/class to chat with garment workers at the first living wage factory in the developing world – the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic. Chat with a garment worker
- Encourage your city, county, school, or university to purchase products made in factories approved by the Worker’s Rights Consortium.
- What would Jesus buy? Check out the Christian argument for Just Purchasing: Practicing Our Faith at the Market.
Where to shop
- SoleRebels – company pays 3-times typical wage in Ethiopia, sends children of employees to school, shoes are made out of recycled tires, supports indigenous weaving tradition
- Patagonia – One of the largest companies willing to have an honest discussion about where their clothes come from.
- Ethix Merch – A host of ethical products for your company.
- Cotton of the Carolinas – My favorite T-shirt! From shirt to dirt the manufacturing process doesn’t leave the Carolinas.
- Discover ethical companies and great deals (think Groupon with a conscience) at Roozt.com.
- The Sweatfree Communities Shopping Guide
- Visit Kelsey’s Closet for more ideas