Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Make a Purchase
I love shopping just as much as the next fashionista. While on my journey to be sustainably dressed and ethically accessorized, I have since shifted my shopping priorities and I now consider myself to be an ethical fashionista which has transformed me into an ethical consumer. By definition, a consumer is someone who purchases goods and services for personal use. That means, we, as shoppers, hold the very buying power in our hands that essentially shapes the world that we live in. Every purchase made represents what we believe to be morally right and morally wrong whether we realize it or not. If you are new to the concept of ethical fashion then I encourage you to start by asking yourself three simple questions while shopping to determine if you are indeed supporting ethical consumerism with your purchases.
1- Did this product bring harm to people?
Unfortunately, society’s obsession with Black Friday Sales, Cyber Monday Deals, and the general “need” to have the latest clothing, shoes, and accessories creates a chain reaction taking supply and demand to extreme levels. Millions of workers are exploited and abused in garment factories around the world often working in unhealthy and unsafe conditions while earning wages well below the poverty line.
To combat this, do not support products that were made in sweatshops. Transparency might not always be easily available and at first it can be challenging to fight the urge to indulge in a “2 for $20 tanks” deal, but you have to remember that someone is always paying the price for you to enjoy fast fashion items that will likely spend more time in a landfill than in your closet.
2-Did this product harm our planet?
Harsh chemicals and pesticides used in farming practices can be harmful to our soil and to the farmers harvesting cotton which makes up 40% of textiles used in fashion. According to The World Bank, there are a total of 72 chemicals that make their way into our freshwater resources from textile dyeing. Formaldehyde and chlorine are just a couple examples of the chemicals that are discharged by mills which contain lead and mercury. Garments that end up in a landfill ultimately secrete dye chemicals right back into our soil and water and the vicious cycle continues to not only contaminate our planet, but also humans and animals that have direct contact in the surrounding areas. So, when you rush out to buy a few items in Pantone’s color of the year make sure your purchases do not endorse harmful practices that pollute our environment.
3-Did this product harm animals?
This might be more of a personal decision for you as a consumer. It is my personal believe that animals are not meant to be used for fashion. If you do, then I’m not here to preach my morals to you. However, if you care about animals and maybe have not quite connected the dots between the animals that you love at the state fair and the animals in your closet…let me break it down for you. Factory-farmed animals live in heinous conditions and are castrated and mutilated without anesthesia. To me, cows, sheep, and lambs are no different than the dogs and cats I know and love in my life.
“Animal skins used for clothing and accessories are loaded with caustic, toxic chemicals that prevent them from decomposing – the very opposite of what we expect from an organic resource.” -Stella McCartney
I understand that this all might be overwhelming. Most of us probably didn’t grow up with these concepts openly discussed as the world has rapidly changed and continues to change every day. It might be easier to ignore what goes on behind the scenes but the future of our planet and the future of the human race relies heavily on uncomfortable conversations and unpleasant facts. That’s how we grow. That’s how we evolve. The Good Trade created an awesome quick reference guide that I highly recommend checking out if you are interested in learning more about companies that support ethical fashion practices so you can best prepare yourself to be an ethical consumer.