I recently bought a dress with the above tag. Handmade in India and Nepal by Mata Traders, a “design-driven, fair trade brand helping to end global poverty”, I thought why can’t more clothes be manufactured under these much more humane and fair conditions? Why aren’t more clothing manufacturers motivated with these values rather than greed and quick profit at whatever cost? Part of the problem is that there is a huge demand for inexpensive everyday clothes, usually manufactured in China and often under horrible conditions. And who pays the price for cheap? The workers and the environment.
Fair trade clothes aren’t necessarily a lot more expensive than mass produced clothes. I prefer buying better quality, thoughtfully made clothes that cost a bit more than cheap, mass produced ones. I just buy fewer. Thankfully as the organic and sustainability movement grows, consumers are more conscious of how their clothes are manufactured and under what conditions. As a result there are increasingly more fair trade companies from abroad and here in the U.S.
As you start your back-to-school clothes shopping for your kids or your fall shopping for yourself, look for stores that are likely to carry fair trade clothes with this Fair Trade USA label or a comparable label like the one above.
Fair Trade USA “enables sustainable development and community empowerment by cultivating a more equitable global trade model that benefits farmers, workers, consumers, industry and the earth.”
Wherever you shop, even chain stores with “fast fashion”, ask the sales clerk about responsibly made clothes. It’s all about educating, voting with your pocketbook, and thoughtful purchasing. In other words, create the demand. As the demand increases, so will the supply and that’s how change happens.
Click here for a list of fair trade and ethical clothing companies available on line. For you Cape Cod readers, visit Shift Eco-Boutique in Hyannis or Orleans, a boutique with fabulous eco and ethically made clothes and accessories.
For general back-to school green tips for kids of all ages, click here.
For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.
Some information compiled from http://fairtradeusa.org/.