I recently read that some of the alarmist "facts" thrown around — namely, that the fashion industry is the world's second biggest polluter — are not entirely traceable, and may constitute "fake news". But, whether this specific claim is true or not, it is clear that our consumptive habits have run wild. Here are a few (actual) facts related to the fashion industry:
Three months ago, I wrote about my new attempt at minimizing my wardrobe. I'm not really a minimalist, but I do dabble here & there! I called it "a capsule wardrobe for the non-committal". It's been a full quarter since I tossed half of my clothes in a box... so, what do I think?
This month, I read Tsh Oxenreider's memoir/manifesto Notes from a Blue Bike and I thought... if you like reading Shop Good, you might really like this book. In one sense, I am loathe to point everyone to another writer who is like me, but much farther along, with many more resources, more wisdom, and a published book… But, Tsh is just that good! The truth is, I don’t read blogs much. [I am all the more swelled with gratitude when anyone takes the precious time to read mine – seriously, THANK YOU. It means so much to me.] I create, I work, I cook, I clean (ha ha, no I don’t), and I do read. I love novels & memoirs, I read the Bible. I try to keep up marginally with news/world events by reading the New Yorker and (honestly, shameful as it is to admit this as a news source) scanning the Facebook trending stories. But regular, devoted blog reading just doesn’t make the cut. So, all that to say, I am no expert in Tsh Oxenreider’s giant of a writing hub, The Art of Simple. I’ve read a number of articles over time, and I like it. I like her. The like her contributors. We are simpatico. So, when I saw her book, Notes from A Blue Bike, on the library shelf, I snapped it up and have been devouring it ever since.
I came across this article this week, with a provocative title: “How can Lidl sell jeans for £5.99? Easy … pay people 23p an hour to make them.” I had never heard of Lidl before, but it is a German-based discount supermarket chain, a competitor to the UK’s Tesco (the best comparison Stateside may be a Walmart Supercentre, though this wouldn’t quite capture the grocery-focus nor the pervasiveness of Tesco; it’s been said that 1 of every 7 spent in shops in the UK is at Tesco). We’re familiar with the cheap/fast fashion conversation, and with these jeans being made in Bangladesh, the discussion hits close. But, what is different about this article (and why I think it is worth reading) is its breakdown of the costs.
I’ve used this line before, but it deserves repeating, because things that are $20 and under are so. easy. to. buy. They are like the silent killer of your bank account or credit card bill, IF you’re not paying attention. Photo: Whipping Post I ran a booth once for dignify at a big Christmas market, and right across from us was a candle seller. Here I was, with these beautiful, hand-crafted items that were colorful and rich with an amazing story behind them. “People online love our blankets!” I thought to myself. “So many people purchase them as gifts; selling them here is going to be fun & easy!” While I was setting up our booth, I glanced over at the candle shop. Jars of candles. Candles shaped like a banana loaf with 3 wicks. No special scent. No interesting story. Just simple, $15 candles. “Will people buy these things?” I wondered. The answer, it became clear, was a resounding YES.
Shop Good Gift Guide | Gifts that Give Back: 50 Ethical Businesses & Social Enterprises for your Christmas List
It goes without saying (nope, I’m saying it anyways) that I obviously want you to do ALL of your shopping at dignify! But, I also know that there are other factors involved, like price point, interests, and the fact that not everybody wants a second blanket for Christmas. Because, of course, I’m assuming you’ve already bought one at some point for every one of your family & friends! ;) If you love dignify and want to shop “good”, here is a list of our kindred spirits. These are specifically brands & stores that are either providing dignified work to someone in the world, or who prioritize philanthropic or social goals. It is not exhaustive, and there are fabulous new businesses popping up all the time. Generally, I’ve included stores that have a selection of items under $50 and under $100, though some items (like leather) simply cost more than that. Many of the items here are specific, but if you click & browse around, the shop has a number of great things . The list for guys is the best one, because let’s be honest here, if you are reading this, you are probably a woman, and the most difficult to buy for is probably a man. And if you are a man reading this, just buy her a blanket. Trust me. And if you’ve already done that, then go snoop her Pinterest board or browsing history, because I can guarantee there are some hints she’s left out there for you. Finally, if you like the list, share it! A high tide rises all boats, and the more we can shift the buying power to socially-minded shops, the better. Feel free to add any more links in the comments below, and... HAPPY SHOPPING (GOOD)!
In our Reader Survey a couple of months back, we received some excellent suggestions about blog posts related to the holidays: Ethical Christmas shopping ideas and gifts. Yep, love it, coming up soon! [update: here it is! 50 Ethical Businesses & Social Enterprises with Gifts that Give Back] Ways to approach Christmas gift-giving when you have children and you want them to be more others-focused. Fantastic question! See here and here for a start... How to graciously tell someone that you want to receive an ethical gift at Christmas instead of something that you don't want or don't have room to store. Or, how to graciously change large family gift giving practices at Christmas/ keep it fun for the kids but avoid excess and unnecessary spending. (Avoid being the Scrooge:)) Tough one! And, what a great question. Managing expectations with gift-giving & -receiving, limiting “stuff” without raining on the parade, being gracious and thankful… these are all big challenges of the season! There are some clear challenges out of the gate: It is (almost always) challenging to have conversations about expectations with family. Period! Whether the topic is gifts, time spent together, traditions, philosophy on child rearing… except in the most thoroughly functional and communicative of families, we can expect a bit of tension going into a conversation like this. It is a fine line to walk when telling someone else what kind of gift to get you! Gifts are, by very nature, an outpouring of the gift-giver’s generosity and desire to share their kindness and love (in theory, at least). Particularly if you are wanting a specifically ethical gift (fair trade, organic, Made in USA, etc.), these items are less widely available, often more pricey, and more work to obtain. So, with that in mind, and an opportune time approaching, how do you talk about this???
I’m trying to try something new. Yes, “trying to try”: I know it sounds very passive, and, yes, maybe a little pathetic. But this is real life, folks, and this is a difficult challenge! Trying to try is about as much as I can commit to in front of all of you friends & the internet. We all have points cards, right? A credit card, a frequent shopper card, a reward bonus for Best Buy or the bookstore. Even large grocery chains have moved to this model, after realizing that their old version (where you have to sacrifice your personal & shopping information to gain access to the real price of a jar of tomato sauce) was obnoxious, and probably a bit unethical. But, as these programs have become more of the norm, I have wondered how much I feel like these bonuses are no longer bonuses, but expected, even owed to me. Like my daughter, who, upon returning from trick-or-treating and dumping out her candy, exclaimed, “Look at all of these treats I’ve earned!”
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