I like clothes, I like looking good, I like browsing magazines to see pretty things on pretty people. I also like our planet, I like people, I love animals, I live for justice and equality. Actions do speak louder than words, so what’s the good of me liking something if my actions are harming our planet, killing animals, or putting people in real danger and ruining their lives?
A few months ago I started thinking about this blog and my own love of fashion, beauty, and looking good. I started thinking about how I don’t even acknowledge how much I spend on clothes every week. If you’re like me, you wouldn’t realise how many times you walk into stores absentmindedly, see something on sale, spend ages finding the right size and fit, and spend money that you need on a pair of pants that you don’t.
I talked to Ella a lot about how I don’t really know where any of my clothes comes from. I wanted to know more, but I’m only one person and I don’t know the first thing about finding real transparency in the fashion industry.
The Facebook page Good On You caught my eye one day, and I thought “there! That’s what I need.” It’s an app that rates fashion labels in terms of “labor”, “environmental”, and “animal”. That means finding the answers to questions like: what are the conditions like for those who work to produce these items? What impact are they having on our environment? What steps are they taking to reduce this impact? Are they using animal products or testing on animals? Do they buy from suppliers who do test on animals?
I thought if these are the types of questions they ask, they’re the types of questions we should all ask. So I downloaded the app, never opened it, and felt a little better about myself.
But I also followed them on Facebook, and I kept seeing the articles they wrote and shared. Every day I became more invested, and ended up finding some more brands like Well Made Clothes who had the same ideas. Every time I read something new, it became clearer to me that I needed to make a change.
I’m not so optimistic to think that I can change the world by myself. There are so many things I want to do, so many things that I care about so much that it makes my head and heart hurt. But this is one thing. It’s one industry that is polluting our world at a rate second only to oil. I might not be able to stop that by myself, but I can change the way I spend money, the way I buy clothes and go through it like its nothing. Maybe I can change a few other people’s minds too.
A few days ago I watched the documentary The True Cost, and that’s what lead to this. I realised that if I want to make this change, I need to do it now. I’ve had this idea for a little while, and wanted to make it my New Years resolution, so here we go.
The Ethical Fashion Challenge. (#ethicalfashionchallenge)
Taking the ethical fashion challenge is as easy as:
1. Promise to only buy from ethical fashion brands (download the Good On You app to find some) or recycled retailers (like your local Op Shop)
2. Share your progress and tag #ethicalfashionchallange and @jesswrr on Instagram. We’d love to share your pics as well.
3. Tell as many people as possible, spread the word and be a voice for what you believe in
I know that some of these brands are very pricey, and that’s a commitment I am willing to make. I can pay $10 for a pair of pants. Or I can pay $150, and what am I paying for?
I’m paying for all the materials to be organically grown, which means production without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.
I’m paying for every person who worked on my clothes to be paid a living wage. That means anyone who designed it, grew the materials, cut or dyed or sew the fabrics, modelled and photographed it, everyone in the production line, to have safe working conditions and rights, to be paid enough to eat, live, and afford things like education and medication.
I’m paying for a company that is actually transparent about every single detail to grow and develop. I’m paying to fund local businesses and handmade items. I’m paying for something that hasn’t had a negative impact on the environment or an animal’s life. I’m paying for something that has been handmade with care and quality, something that will last, something I can be proud to wear.
But here’s the thing, we don’t all have the money to pay for these things. Which is why Op Shops are such a great thing. You can buy recycled clothes for a huge bargain and know you’re stopping those items being sent to landfills. That’s a huge difference. I’ll be putting money away every week and buying myself one thing at the end of that month, which means I’ll be saving money and won’t be impulse buying clothes as much. If you’re willing and capable of this, why not?
I’m paying for the world I want to live in. So are you, so think about what you want.
x – Jess