Being a compassionate consumer is hard. It requires patience and dedication. Shopping is especially difficult when it comes to fashion, because many ethical choices aren’t readily available at a mall or at a department store. Tribe of Lambs values compassionate consumerism, so we’ve created a guide for the aspiring ethical shopper!
Read the tags.
While tags can be really confusing, they reveal a lot of information about our clothes, including where they were made, and which fabrics they were made from. If clothes are made from mostly synthetic fibres like rayon, polyester, and viscose, you may want to avoid them; synthetic fibres can be harmful to both people and the environment. Look for clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton, linen, and wool.
Do your research before buying.
We all know what it’s like to buy something on an impulse – we pick up a random item to avoid not buying anything, because we spent all that time in the store anyway. To avoid impulse buying (and purchasing from unethical brands), do some research before your shopping trip. Sites like Free2Work and EthicalConsumer serve as great resources to help consumers gain a greater understanding of fast fashion brands, whether it be the labourer rights they are infringing, their environmental impact, or relevant safety concerns.
Buy fair trade.
Fair trade is always the best option. When something comes with a ‘fair trade’ designation, it means that whoever created or manufactured that product was paid a substantial, fair living wage. The more we purchase fair trade products, the more we are contributing to a fair and growing economy. Whenever possible, try to make fair trade products your first choice.
Save your money.
Compassionate consumerism is all about quality over quantity. We’re conditioned to believe that we need buy five shirts because they’re on sale, when in reality, we only need one. When you’re out shopping, ask yourself: “Do I really need this item? How will it benefit me?” If you can’t think of a good answer, it’s probably best if you put your wallet away for the time being.
Hold your brands – and yourself – accountable.
We often wonder why brands continue to practice unethical business – it’s because they think we don’t care (among other reasons). Most brands know that their customers don’t feel bad enough about unfair wages to boycott a buy-one-get-one sale, which is true in many cases. If we hold brands accountable for their actions by voting with our wallets, we will eventually promote change. But unethical business practices won’t change unless we do.
Next time you decide to purchase some new clothes, make sure your money goes towards something good!