Let me preface this post with this:
This is so new to me--everything. Honestly, it wasn't until a few months ago that I began to learn about the clothing industry. So, this post is basically a guide for those of us who are all new being more conscience shoppers :) I am not perfect at this (by a long shot!), but my hope is to curate a closet that is more and more filled with purposeful purchases. It's definitely been a learning curve as well as a shift in my perspective. Even though it's been challenging, it has been so good and exciting as well!
Once I heard about some of the not-so-good practices of clothing industries (ever wonder how a t-shirt can cost just five dollars?), I knew that I wanted to make some changes. Even though I want to pretend that I don't know anything and claim ignorance, I can't "un"know and ignore the issues.
However, it is overwhelming, to say the least. Often, it seems easier to just say, "whatever," turn the other way, and pretend that it doesn't matter.
It's not about perfection; it's about moving in a better direction. For me, it's worth it to support a company who is treating and paying their employees fairly, not using child labor, or cutting safety corners. I'm not interested in bashing and bringing down companies who aren't ethical; however, I am interested in cheering on the companies who are doing it right with my purchases and voice.
So, here are a few positives that I've noticed already with the few changes I've made:
1). I buy less, but I buy better. Or I simply save money by not buying at all. So far, there have been a lot less impulse buys (which usually end up unworn anyway), plus the clothes I am buying are usually better made :)
2). Less options equal easier decisions. I get super overwhelmed when I have too many choices. So, by removing a lot of clothing companies from my list, I don't have so many choices :)
3). I feel confident about what I am wearing because I know it was a purchase that didn't compromise what I believe in.
Here are some practical ways that I've baby-stepped into owning a more ethical closet:
1. Buy thrifted/used clothing. This is the main way I've both saved money and created a more ethical closet. I've used the website ThredUp and had a really positive experience with them. Not only was I able to get a bag and clear out my clothes I wasn't wearing, but I got a store credit to use with the money I made from those clothes I sent in. But, I've also had some good luck with local thrift stores. Plus, there are also lots of Instagram accounts that sell gently-used clothing as well.
2. Create a list of brands that you know are ethically "safe"--brands that are dedicated to ethical business practices. This post is the one I reference often. Some of my favorites:
3. Start somewhere. It may be possible to have a 100% ethical closet, but I honestly think that it's a little unreasonable (at least at first). So, start with what you need and go from there. Need some t-shirts? Research companies that sell ethically-produced t-shirts. Slowly but surely, your closet will be filled with more conscience purchases.
4. Be an advocate and cheerleader. Maybe you can't afford those $50 earrings or $80 shoes, but you can still share the stories of these companies and cheer them on. Pin their clothes. Share their sales on Instagram. Post a link to a story from their blog.
5. Remember the why. For me, if I lose sight of why, then it just becomes a "good" thing to do. I want to curate a conscience closet because I want to support the companies who are doing it right (the more we support them, the more companies will follow!) as well as communicate that the way people are treated matters to me. It has to be gospel/Jesus-centered for me. Jesus doesn't want people to be oppressed or taken-advantage of, and neither do I. Some verses I've considered: Ps. 10:18, Proverbs 14:31 (this one is especially convicting!), Malachi 3:5, and Ps. 82:3
6. If you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and remember that it's a process. Just like choosing to eat better and incorporate healthier habits in your life doesn't happen overnight, this doesn't either. Give yourself grace during the learning process.
7. Don't sweat the small stuff. So, there might be a moment when you are in Target and need some socks, but your toddler is antsy and being a little crazy, so you just grab some socks off the rack and go with it because you have about 4 minutes until imploding begins. It's okay. Sometimes (if not many times) you'll purchase something that came from who-knows-where. Don't sweat it :) Again, it's not about doing it 100% perfectly.
Those are 7 simple steps that I've found helpful in the journey so far. I'm definitely learning--to both be gracious with myself and others during this process.
What do you think about this? Overwhelming? Do you have any tips? Questions?