As part of the local food challenge, in order to support my love for clothes, I also resolved to spend the year buying locally made and/or ethically produced clothing. This was a particular challenge for me as I am incredibly thrifty (read: cheap).
In my mind, ethically produced means ethical wages to those producing the clothing and/or fabric that the clothing is made of. This can create a conundrum when combined with the locally made option - is it still ethical if the clothing is locally made but the fabric is made from cotton picked by small children? For simplicity sake, and because the market isn't exactly saturated with ethical options, I decided to go with locally made OR ethical wages but not necessarily both. (note: on top of this there are the environmental ethics that one could consider - impact of creating fabric/garments on environment etc., but I decided not to focus too strongly on this one as ethical wages stood out as more important to me.)
So all in all, finding ethical stuff became a really time consuming process. "Yes, this clothing is made by a local designer, but the tag says made in Thailand..." Much research was required. Ultimately I learned that unless a store explicitly held the ethical values I was going for, going out shopping was time consuming and I always came away empty handed.
So what did I end up doing? Buying used. In my mind this dealt with the majority of my ethical quandaries - I'm not supporting labels/companies with unethical practices as they are not getting my money, AND I'm supporting the environment by recycling resources. I found a real gem in the Newmarket Value Village and go there ridiculously often. Because Value Village is such a large company I did some research and, while they are a for-profit company, there is nothing blatantly unethical about their business practices that I came come across and, despite rumours, I don't believe they are actually owned by Walmart.
So for those of you who aren't so keen on rummaging to make up your wardrobe - here are a few shops I found that fit somewhere onto my "this counts as ethical" scale:
Freedom Clothing Collective (Toronto)
- Designed AND made locally
- Eco-friendly sourced merchandise
- Designed AND made in Canada
- Recycles old garments to make new ones
- Products are a combination or locally made/designed, fair traded, and/or sustainable
- Products are a combination of locally made, designed, or fair traded
- All products are hand-made by a handfull of local (to the business) employees
- All fabrics are either made from locally grown/harvested cotton or fair trade certified fabrics
- All fabrics are certified organic
- All products are manufactured in the US or internationally in non-sweatshop/living wage settings
- All products are organic
- An online marketplace full of handmade products
- There a bazillions of shops but generally clothing tends to be manufactured local to the shops by one or two individuals (often the designers)
- I recommend checking out where the shop is physically located and reading their policies to double check for ethical status
- Here are a few shops I love browsing where items appear to be manufactured by the shop owner(s)
So...two years later....I think this finally summarizes my experiences/findings from the year (read: 9 months) of local eating/shopping. My biggest lesson? I suck at remembering to blog. Seriously. I wrote this post three months ago and forgot to post it. I will blame it on pregnancy brain cause I can. All future blogging lapses will henceforth be blamed on baby brain (cause yeah, p.s. I had a baby).
Up next for the blog (if I remember) I'll share my findings and experiments in environmentally friendly personal care and household cleaning. And maybe post a picture of my baby. Because: cute!