Do you know where your clothes were made, not just in what country but in what conditions? It shocks me to think that items I have bought have been made by people who are forced to work in sweatshops, in horrendous conditions and receive a pittance for their labour – by buying the items they produce I am responsible for perpetuating this. Have a look at War on Want and Labour Behind the Label’s research into the sweatshops that we unknowingly support when we buy from most high street stores. Do join in their campaigns and make your voice heard.
24 April 2014 was the 1st anniversary of the horrific Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. Fashion Revolution Day has been started in commemoration of this. You can read more about the day in my post and in this article.
I bet that most of the clothes in your wardrobe contain cotton. Have you thought about how that cotton is produced? Amongst other things cotton is the world’s thirstiest crop, child labour is used to pick the crop and it requires significant use of pesticides which have a disastrous impact on the environment. Choose Fairtrade Organic cotton instead.
Alternatives to buying new
. Charity shops – there are so many on our high streets and by shopping here you know you are not only not accidentally supporting sweatshops but, even better, your money is going to do some good and you are saving clothes from landfill. What’s not to like!
. Lend or give each other clothes, have a clothes swap – see Swishing for events near you, and for help hosting your own swishing party.
. Mend or update old clothes if you are a dab hand with the sewing machine. Love Your Clothes has some helpful suggestions, tips and tutorials.
. Have a look at Ethical Consumer’s guide to high street shops. Also Labour Behind the Label’s research allows you to check out your favourite brand’s progress towards paying their workers a living wage. Measure Up will help you shop more responsibly through their research in to how your favourite fashion brands treat their workers – why don’t you check out how your favourite brand is doing?
. High street shopping – look out for Fairtrade and Organic labels. Stores like H&M, Zara and M&S have some products. Also if you are passionate, write to a high street retailer that doesn’t source these products and tell them it matters to you as a consumer – we do have a voice and it does make a difference.
. Traidcraft – established in 1979 as a Christian response to poverty-fighting poverty through trade. You can purchase clothes, jewellery and accessories amongst other beautiful things – and by doing so you can help to fight poverty through trade. I have a couple of sets of beautiful Traidcraft pyjamas – it makes snuggling into bed even more satisfying as I can sleep easy knowing that those who created them have been rewarded appropriately, and the environmental impact is reduced due to the use of Organic cotton – Zzzzz!
. If you need a new T-Shirt check out those produced by Visible Clothing – launched in May 2014 they commit to visibility of costs, people and impact so you can know everyone is being treated fairly. Rapanui also has a great selection of T-shirts, socks, bags etc – you can read more about their ethics on the Make Wealth History blog.
. Boody – sports clothing and underwear made from bamboo. Check out their site for the many, many reasons why bamboo is more planet-friendly than cotton. I have a pair of Boody leggings and they are really soft and comfortable.
. Nomads Clothing – over the past 20 years Nomads has been providing clothing without compromise, complying with fair trade guidelines. Nomads have always held the policy of “trade not aid”, believing that this is the best way to help maintain a sustainable and profitable living for the producers and ourselves.
. Nudie Jeans – for jeans that value those who produce them.
. The Fair Corp – Fairtrade, Organic cotton and Fairtrade rubber including Ethletic trainers.
. Fair Wear Foundation – works with companies and factories to improve labour conditions for garment workers.
. Macbeth Footwear – vegan shoes and some clothing, 100% cruelty free.
. Green Shoes – ethical production is at the heart of their business philosophy. Everything at Green Shoes is hand made for you from the finest materials by their team of designer makers in Devon. They come recommended.
. Vegetarian Shoes – the original animal-friendly footwear company established in 1990. Quality footwear without compromise.
. We are all partial to a little gold, even if it is simply your wedding ring. However, do you know much about the people who risked their lives to mine it? Despite being a luxury product sold to us at a premium price, the gold industry is rife with corruption, exploitation, child labour, dangerous working practices, environmental damage and much more. Greg Valerio has been campaigning for and working towards ethical jewellery for many years, and now sells Fairtrade jewellery through CRED Jewellery. Find out more about Fairtrade jewellery here and here.
. Natural Collection – good range of ethical food / clothing / toiletries / cleaning products / presents. This is the site I use for all my non-perishable shopping e.g. cans, cleaning products, flour, toiletries etc etc. They offer delivery in recycled packaging.
. Ethical Superstore – Fairtrade, eco-friendly, Organic & UK-made shopping.
. DoJo Ecoshop – the natural choice for great eco alternatives to everyday goods. A unique range of natural organic mattresses, beds made from sustainably produced timber, organic bedding and towels, greener home and gardening, eco paint, recycled mats for shiatsu and yoga, fairly traded toys and sustainable fabrics, all sourced from ethical suppliers or made in their workshop from organic materials.
. Liv – clothing, homeware and skin-care – beautifully created, ethically made. Liv’s vision is to make it easy for you to find beautifully created, ethically made clothing and homeware that’s kind to your pocket.
. Friends of the Earth shop – a range of ethical food / cleaning products / gifts / clothing.
. Ecotopia is the eco-shop from Ecotricity – lots of of ethical food / cleaning products / gifts / business supplies.
. By Nature – eco fashion / Organic underwear / ethical jewellery / eco gifts / green gift ideas / eco-friendly presents.
. Fab & Fair – beautiful goods sourced with care.
. Greenfibres – eco pioneers since 1996.
. Eternal Creation – they run their own Fair Trade certified workshop in North India and work with Tibetan refugees and local Indians to produce beautifully tailored garments, sleepwear and accessories.