by Apprentice Emily Nicholson
Fact: there are hundreds of Fair Trade businesses hard at work to both employ artisans in unideal economic conditions and create products as unique as you are!
Let’s discuss. Fair Trade sometimes gets a bad rap out there on the internet in blog articles and comment sections. People seem to think that in order to be an ethical and Fair Trade shopper, you have to wear tribal printed maxi skirts, poorly stitched together t-shirts, and macaroni noodle style jewelry. WRONG.
There are some businesses that are drawn to incorporating the culture of the artisans making the clothes/jewelry/etc., which is truly beautiful, but if Aztec-y prints aren’t “you”, no problem. There are also businesses that make your classic LBD, simple gold accessories, everyday denim, and lots of other staple items for your wardrobe.
Speaking of staple items…they should be your focus. Let’s be honest: it can be hard to shop Fair Trade if your goal is to be trendy. You aren’t necessarily going to find the hottest new wrap-all-the-way-up-to-your-knee gladiator sandals on a Fair Trade website. But, while we’re being honest, being trendy isn’t an ethical (or efficient) way to shop.
Fast fashion—new items and collections being released in stores rapidly at at low price points to consistently draw in consumers to shop—results in 1) low wages for the individuals making the products and 2) massive waste. If you want to be a better, more ethical, more practical and efficient shopper, your goal should be to buy to last.
If you buy what’s trendy this month, chances are it’s going to end up in the back of your closet by the end of the year and then either in the trash or in a donation pile the next time you decide to clean stuff out. But if your goal is no longer to keep up with the trends, you’re free to dress in wardrobe that is totally your style, and will most likely be your style for much of the near future.
If you’re not going to wear an item for the next 4+ years, why are you buying it?
What if you started seeing every purchase you make as an investment (i.e. investing in a pair of jeans that will get you through the next 4 autumns and winters--they will be your trusty companion!)?
What if you started seeing every purchase as an opportunity to employ and empower individuals hard at work to achieve economic prosperity?
What if you started seeing every purchase as an opportunity to care how things are made?
What ethical shopping tips or brands have you found along to the way to be able to stay true to your style?