Kelsey's Closet: Ethix Merch

To celebrate the release of the new updated and revised edition of Where Am I Wearing? I’m celebrating apparel companies that are making a difference by conducting two weeks of giveaways. Each day I’ll highlight a company and then giveaway an item of theirs at 9PM (ish). To enter, leave a comment in that day’s blog post or on Facebook. Winner will be randomly selected. Wanna see more clothing companies changing the world? Visit Kelsey’s Closet.

Leave a comment for a chance to win an Ethix Merch “Sweatfree Baby!” onesie (organic, made in USA, Union Made) see it here

I walk off the stage. People are clapping. A professor takes the mic and has me stop.


“Kelsey, you are amazingly handsome, pleasingly humorous, and highly interesting.” (Okay, so this is a somewhat fictionalized composite. The litany of praise isn’t normally so long or adverbial, but this next part has happened a lot.) “And as a token of our gratitude, we got you a little something.”

She hands me a gift bag. Inside there is a coffee mug, some pens, and a shirt that she wants me to hold up.

I just spent the past 45 minutes talking about the connection that has been lost between producer and consumer and that we all need to start thinking more about how our purchasing decisions impact the lives of others. We all need to be more engaged consumer.

We pose for a picture with the shirt, and that’s when it dawns on her, “Uhh…. I’m not sure where it was made.” She laughs nervously, afraid that I might check the tag and know something awful about the brand or the shirt’s country of origin.

I don’t. I say thanks.

Many universities and businesses are focusing on their environmental and social impact these days, yet when it comes to buying the cheap schwag they giveto students, clients, and guest speakers, not much thought goes into who, where, or under what conditions the schwag was made.

More and more consumers are looking how to incorporate their values and ethics into their purchasing decisions. We buy some fair trade coffee here, an organic cotton shirt there. But the organizations we belong to buy thousands of this, thousands of that. If we could get them to be more conscious consumers, they could really make an impact.

That’s where EthixMerch comes in. From their site:

Balancing ecological issues, fair trade and international solidarity in a fully globalized world is a complex task. Our intention is to provide you with the tools to make conscious choices, choices that make it possible for you to use your buying power to support workers and protect the environment.

All of their products have at least one of the following labels: Union Made, Locally Made USA, Fair Trade, Eco-friendly. And they have loads of products, everything from Made in USA temporary tattoos to golf gear. Pretty much everything you’ve ever had dumped into your schwag bag or been given to you with an organizations logo on it, has found a supplier that meets at least one of their four labels.

They even have onesies for babies! As the parent of two kids, one of who is still rocking the onesies, you can never have too many onesies.

I don’t mind when the “Ah crap, I’m handing a shirt from God knows where to the Where Am I Wearing guy” moments happen. But what’s really cool is when someone hands me some schwag and they tell me the story of it: Where it was made, the research they did, and all of the thought that went into the purchase.

Recently, I met with Melinda Messineo the director of Ball State University’s Freshmen Connections program. Ball State is using the new edition of Where Am I Wearing as their freshman common reader book this fall. She handed me a Ball State traveling coffee mug that all incoming freshmen will be given alongside my book. She told me about all of the thought and effort that went into deciding what to give the freshmen. They finally decided on this biodegradable mug made in Indiana. How cool is that?!

All of my stuff doesn’t have to be made in Indiana or the USA for that matter, or  biodegradable, but I was so excited to see the effort that Melinda and her committee put into this decision.

When it comes to schwag, it’s not just about what’s given. It’s the thought that counts.

If your boss gives you the task of buying some cheap pins or T-shirts, contact the Merchant Adventurers (I love that job title!) at EthixMerch to help your organization practice what it preaches.

Leave a comment for a chance to win an Ethix Merch “Sweatfree Baby!” onesie (organic, made in USA, Union Made) see it here


Thanks for the great write-up, Kelsey! We’re thrilled to be a part of your give-away series.

Just one small clarification about Ethix — unfortunately lots of eco-friendly items are made under unregulated and potentially-deplorable conditions. So our items marked eco-friendly must also have one of the three other labels (union made, locally made in USA, fair trade) as well.

Thanks again for including us and keep up the great work.

Sarah Royer says:

Sofia likes this!

Nicole says:

I love that Ball State is making huge strides in their book choices and the items they are giving the incoming freshman. I couldn’t even tell you the book that we were given (I didn’t read it – oops!) because it wasn’t appealing to me. Your book (and different products mentioned) would have sparked a little bit of interest in me, especially knowing that the author lived in Muncie! Props to BSU and to you, Kelsey!

courtney w says:

awesome baby stuff

sara says:

What a great company/site! Thanks for the info, as always.

Missy says:

I have a socially conscious baby! I want to win!

Janet says:

it all starts with making people think … great article

Let your voice be heard!