Over the past year, I have been developing a small business in the fashion industry. In the process, I have spent countless hours researching ways to make it possibly for me to run my business ethically, sustainably, an profitably. Let me tell you–it’s not easy. Since the Great Depression (probably even since the Industrial Revolution), America has been tearing down the road of consumerism and “throw-away” culture. I don’t agree with the full stereotype that all Americans are wasteful, but there is a lot to be said about our society as a whole caring more about immediate impacts than long-term ones. Much of this is because manufacturing and technology has advanced much more quickly than science (or at least the everyday impacts of scientific research, probably hugely stunted by big pharma and the like). But things are finally catching up.
However, in my attempt to find the best ways to shop responsibly (for clothing, skincare, food, or business supplies), I have found that the resources available to the general public are sadly underdeveloped. You almost have to dedicate yourself full-time to learning how to properly take care of your body and the earth. That’s why I have decided to start blogging more about my research on this topic–the more information available, the better!
So, let’s start with how to shop responsibly for clothing.
I will write more in the future about specific fibers and sustainable clothing practices, but let’s start off with some basics. Emma Watson (sustainable fashion spokesperson and overall wonderful human) has said that if you wear an item more than 30 times, then it’s a good purchase. This is a good starting place. All that stuff that you buy from H&M or Target and wear 2 times in the summer before it falls apart… don’t do it. You don’t need that. If the jeans cost $20, you can almost guarantee that every step of that production line was unethical.
The thing that is crippling to most of us who really want to enact responsible shopping practices is that we just don’t know how. Well, a good place to start is by reading the “about” section on a company’s website. Unfortunately, there aren’t any regulations in the USA on the use of words like “all-natural”, so you’re always taking a gamble on whether people actually do what they say. But you can look for certifications like Fair Trade, non-GMO, and Vegan. These are regulated, and you can know exactly what they mean. Also, a lot of the websites for those certifications give a list of approved-brands.