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Are Cheap Clothes Worth the Cost?

May 1, 2013

When I was a frazzled mom of four, and daughter number two was attending an International Affairs Seminar with the topic of the Modern Slave Trade, I read the book Not for Sale. (It also can be found at Amazon.) It tells success stories of people who have gotten out of the slave trade! It broke my heart, informed me, and gave me hope all at the same time!

You might have noticed that learning new information motivates me to change what I purchase and from where I purchase it. Coffee, Chocolate, now clothes! I was moved by stories of women gaining new opportunities in life when given a micro loan or making jewelry or clothing for a small company that pays them a living wage. I wanted to be part of the solution to this awful reality that exists in the twenty-first century! I went to sites recommended in the book. I looked up fair trade clothes online. I desperately wanted to know what I could do. My first find was Fair Indigo, one of my all time favorites!

I determined I had enough clothes in my closet to last until I could replace them with fairly traded clothing. I made the commitment to myself not to purchase any new clothes unless they were designated fair trade. I spend more on an item of clothing but I buy less often. And I watch for sales. I have to save up for my clothes and have to have patience. But they feel so good! Often, I receive the name of a person who made my shirt or dress attached when it’s delivered. I feel connected. When the garment factory fires occurred, it broke my heart and strengthened my resolve. (The most recent one was in Bangladesh. You can read about it in the New York Times).

Unfortunately, it is taking longer to switch all of my kids’ clothing over, so I am aware that I am still contributing to the problem. I am finding more fair trade sites with children’s clothes as I continue along this journey (and my kids keep growing! Daughter number three can wear some adult extra smalls from my favorite sites!)

When I discovered the poor treatment of workers in the garment industry, I wanted to change immediately. Over the past two years, I have discovered other fairly traded and organic clothing sites that I would love to share! These companies started with the goal to provide products that are made from sustainable practices that consider the people who made them and the earth on which we all live. I believe that we do vote with our wallets. With each purchase, we vote on the kind of world we want to live in. These companies make it a little easier to vote for a world where workers are paid a living wage and treated with respect, where life and creation are regarded as gifts rather than things to be used up and tossed aside.

So here they are!
Of course, my first find was Fair Indigo!

Threads for Thought (I found some great clothes for my husband here. My oldest daughters love their tanks. I bought some nice cottony dresses that I can layer with a turtleneck or camisole.)

Soul Flower (I discovered some great earrings and found Organic MukLuks for Greg! He has a thing for mukluks!)

Gaiam designates some of their clothing as fairly traded, but they’ve been on the cutting edge of eco clothing for a long time and they had Tennis Shoes! I’ve had trouble finding shoes!

I’m grateful that Tom’s gives a pair away for each pair I buy. I’m not sure about all the materials, but it’s a simple shoe that gives back. And they’re on Zulily! All three daughters, Greg and I each have a pair!

With the simplicity of the styles, I’m starting to think even I might be able to make some of my own dresses, leggings, shirts, p.j.’s, etc. So, I’m looking for dealers of organic, fairly traded cloth! (That will be another frazzled adventure! Right now, I have a daughter graduating from college, school programs to attend, two daughters to move home for the summer, and daughter number three graduating from elementary school, a garden to check on, a dog to walk, a checkbook to balance, supper to fix and kids to pick up from school!)

I’d love to hear your favorite fair trade sites!


From → Fair Trade

  1. Thank you for these links! I am excited to be changing my buying habits to support more local and fair trade products. When I can’t afford fair trade clothing, I have been shopping consignment stores instead of directly supporting organizations that use unethical practices. Thanks for the resources – very helpful!
    Blessings 🙂

    • I was so excited to find these resources; I love to share them with others! I was looking for a fairly traded red belt and couldn’t find one, but found one at a thrift store for 60 cents! Second hand stores are great options! I’ve found some wonderful sales at these sites as well! Hope you enjoy!

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