Engaged Consumer

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Visit Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles
  4. Listen to my report on an Ethiopian shoe manufacturer changing lives one job at a time.
  5. Discover how transparent your favorite brand is by reading Free2Work’s Story Behind the Bar Code

How to make a difference

  1. 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
  2. Encourage your city, county, school, or university to purchase products made in factories approved by the Worker’s Rights Consortium.
  3. What would Jesus buy? Check out the Christian argument for Just Purchasing: Practicing Our Faith at the Market.

Where to shop

  1. 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
  2. Patagonia – One of the largest companies willing to have an honest discussion about where their clothes come from.
  3. Ethix Merch – A host of ethical products for your company.
  4. Cotton of the Carolinas – My favorite T-shirt! From shirt to dirt the manufacturing process doesn’t leave the Carolinas.
  5. Discover ethical companies and great deals (think Groupon with a conscience) at
  6. The Sweatfree Communities Shopping Guide
  7. Visit Kelsey’s Closet for more ideas

What to read