05 Apr My Journey with Ethical Fashion
Until I began volunteering at Vickery Trading Company, I had never heard the term ethical fashion. In an attempt to educate myself, I watched The True Cost, read Overdressed, and browsed the DressWellDoGood site.
After a little research, I was MOTIVATED, and a little horrified. I swore off all unethical fashion, and began dramatically referring to places I used to shop as “my local sweatshop.”
As I began researching and caring, I started to question myself. Why THIS issue? Did I need to do more? Making this change made me feel a little guilty about all the changes I wasn’t making. Did I need to start eating organic, give up gluten, buy paraben-free lotion and alll-natural deodorant? I became overwhelmed….which lead to shopping paralysis.
But then it was Christmas season. I shopped for family members. I made Christmas lists. I ate gluten and savored every drop of high fructose corn syrup. I told myself it didn’t count if I was buying for others or others were buying for me.
When January came, I reevaluated my goals and made peace with the most obvious truth in my life – I cannot do it all. I cannot be 100 percent ethical at this phase of my life. The fact that I believed I had to have it all figured out RIGHT now was really just buying into the fast fashion culture, which tells me I can have it all. I should have it all. NOW.
I also made peace with why I decided on THIS issue – It affects people. Blindly supporting unfair wages and a dangerous work environment does not align with what I believe about the value of human life.
So this is my balance: I’m continuing to educate myself. I’m reading labels and taking note when something is made in USA. Yes, I sometimes buy from China, and occasionally visit “my local sweatshop.” My biggest change has been shopping A LOT less. This change matters. My money talks – and there is a surprising freedom that comes with shopping less. (Note: this statement is coming from a girl who used to call shopping her favorite sport.)
I value the things I have more, and am more intentional about what I buy. I am finding ethical fashion companies I like (and can afford), reworking clothes I have, and getting to know my tailor. It’s a lot less daunting when I give myself the grace to shop unethically occasionally.
Children’s clothes are a struggle. The market is so limited and children grow so fast. I buy less, receive and give hand me downs, and probably do laundry a little more. My daughter has a few things from Hanna Anderson and Vickery Trading, which I feel good about.
So let me encourage you, reader. Take a breath. Do a little better. Educate yourself. Shop less. Read labels. And for goodness sake accept that you aren’t going to get it right all the time. YOU CAN DO THIS!