“Maybe I’ll post once a week,” she said. Maybe “once a month” would have been a more realistic game plan when I decided to commit to writing here in this space again! Ah well, c’est la vie! It is what it is.
With life as crazy-busy as ever – homeschooling 4 grades with a toddler in the mix AND tutoring Latin, Grammar and Writing once a week to 14 students with mostly all-new curriculum – well, most of my nights are taken up with studying new material, catching up on assignments and learning how to engage and teach more than one or two students at a time. My hat goes off to all the teachers out there who do this every single day! Especially the ones who are moms and come home from a full day of teaching to continue on with their own families. You are truly heroes in my book!
But on with the purpose of this post. If you’ve been following me for some time, you will know that I am passionate about ethical and fair trade fashion, as well as fighting against human trafficking. The fashion industry requirements, positive responses and changes we’ve seen implemented by manufacturers have grown by leaps and bounds since I first felt a pull in this direction back in 2014. But there is still a very long road ahead.
Sustainable Fashion & You
The idea of sustainable fashion has been around since the Industrial Revolution when child labour situations were quite bad, but no one really knew what to do about it. True ethical manufacturing wasn’t really “a thing” until the ’90s when Patagonia became a forerunner in the industry and everyone congratulated them for their progressive thinking.
Still, it took another 10-15 years for ethical manufacturing to be popularized by campaigns such as the Forbes article “Green is the New Black” and for some brands to finally get on board. Yet the idea of #slowfashion was very much in the shadow of the big companies pushing the cheap and easy availability of fast fashion.
Finally, after the devastating loss of life at Rana Plaza in 2013, eyes which were once tightly shut to these issues flew open and woke up to just what was going on behind the doors of those manufacturing facilities. We also began to realize just how much and often companies were turning a blind eye.
And we decided we weren’t going to stand by and allow unethical practices to proliferate any longer.
Fast forward just 5 years to 2018 and ethical, sustainable, fair trade production has literally EXPLODED all across the board. We used to say (and really, we still do), “Every purchase you make casts a vote.” We’ve seen things change dramatically for the conditions and treatment of the workers, all because the consumers were willing to take a stand against cheap labour, unfair and unsafe conditions.
Below is an excerpt from a 2017 interview with Marketplace journalist Kai Ryssdal and Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia and author of many books, including “The Responsible Company” mentioned here):
Ryssdal: You want people to read this (book) and change the way they do business. Do you care, though, why they change? Is it OK if they’re doing it for the good PR and for the benefits that they might get from good publicity or is it important that they do it for the right reasons?
Chouinard: No, it doesn’t matter why they do it as long as they do it. I think if you start out on that process of trying to be more responsible, after a while you realize how good it feels. It becomes a habit. This millenium generation, these young people, are going to demand that from you. Everybody’s making the same stuff and the consumer has the final say.
While I don’t 100% agree with his reasoning that businesses don’t have to do it for the right reasons, he is absolutely correct that the consumer is the one who has the final say on the way things go in the future. And that’s you and me.
October is #NationalFairTradeMonth and I’d like to share some hopefully helpful ideas with you about some of the many ways you can respond to the sustainable fashion movement. I promise I’m not going to guilt you into dumping your entire closet at the nearest Value Village / Goodwill, just so you can start over with ethical products in your home!
I do hope these posts encourage you to think differently about purchases – the way you buy things and why you buy them. Ask how you use what you already have. Take the time, pause a moment (or 5!) to think about who made these things and how YOU can have an impact on their future.
To begin, make sure you check these posts about making purchases that make a difference:
Sustainable purchases. Ethical fashion. Fair trade. Slow fashion.
I’ll be back next week with more!