My last post has really gotten me thinking about fair trade, ethical consumerism, and financial and environmental sustainability. The longer I am in Tanzania working for WomenCraft, the more interested in fair trade I become, particularly fashion.
So much of the fashion industry is a discussion on sweatshops, child labor, and unfair worker wages–not to mention chemical dyes that are harmful for both people and the environment. WomenCraft seeks to promote healthy and sustainable way to do business. Artisans use local materials and fabrics found in Tanzanian markets to make their products. And, we are currently looking for a toxin-free way to dye our materials. Now, if the social enterprise I am working for is trying so hard to be ethical and sustainable, why, as a consumer, am I not as well?
Yes, buying fair trade can be pricey. But when you take into consideration where the products are coming from, how they’re made, and how purchasing them can benefit a group or community, the price tag doesn’t matter so much. Saving a few bucks at the cost of not supporting an enterprise that benefits a community directly with fair worker wages and, in many cases, effective social impact projects seems like a cop out.
Here’s the strategy I’m attempting to employ–
- Buy your basics in fair trade. These are the items you’ll wear with everything and really get some mileage out of.
- Get your jazz second-hand. You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint by purchasing clothing donated to your community thrift store by members of your community. In addition, you’ll avoid perpetuating the cycle of unfair labor practices by clothing companies and, again, positively impacting your community. Clothing swaps are also effective options for no or low-cost fashion endeavors.
Here are some links!