Fair trade has become a bit of a buzz word these days. Thank goodness! But for some reason, a lot of people think that it just applies to coffee or chocolate. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love that my guilty pleasures make me feel a *bit* less guilty. What I want people to know is that literally everything can be fair trade.
If you are just starting on your ethical fashion journey, first, congrats! It is such an enlightening experience. It is time to open your eyes wide, see things how they are, ask hard questions, and get a little help on the way. You probably want to know exactly what these words mean, how do you go about buying these items, and how can YOU afford these awesome items. Well, this post is for you, my friend. I wrote about how I started on my own ethical journey here. Check it out and then let’s get started with the basics, shall we?
Ethical vs. fair trade
Just to be clear, ethical is fair trade. So let’s break this down a bit. Ethical means of good morals or standards. Fair means just or equal. Trade is anytime one person gives a product or service to another for a product or service in return, sometimes money, but not always. So it is safe to say that we can switch one word or phrase for the next in reference to an item that was made with good standards and practices in services and manufacturing. Some companies are certified fair trade and that is when you will see the Fair Trade logo on the product.
Why is the cost so high?
Okay, so now that that is out of the way, you may be wondering, “I get it, but why is it so expensive?”. There are so many factors that play into this. Let me preface this by saying that it is not expensive, it is a fair price. When I was making bags I realized this quickly!
Work area standards
The standard of the area in which people work is of safe conditions. It is not going to collapse on the workers at any given time like the Rana Plaza did in 2013. This building was know to be in poor condition, but the workers were forced to stay and it took the lives of 1100 people, injuring many more. But safe could also mean free from slavery, good air quality, bathroom breaks, and time to eat. Yes, we take these things for granted, but it is not like that everywhere.
Employees of fair trade businesses will receive compensation before the item is produced. They also make a living wage. This means that they can afford food, transportation, housing, and to send their children to school. While this method of payment is typical in developed countries, not so much in undeveloped countries.
Other Fair Trade Standards
Every company is different, but many provide other perks to employment such as health care, maternity leave, community initiatives like building schools, or assisting with funds for University. This is one thing that sets Sseko apart from other fair trade companies is that we do all of that and more! Sseko helps send women to University by matching their savings from working with us up to 300%.
Where can I get ethical fashion?
Ethical fashion can be more easily found online, but it can also be found increasingly in your every day stores. A great list of ethical fashion brands to get to you started on your ethical fashion journey would be found at Still Being Molly, but you can also find PACT in Target, AG jeans in stores, several brands have direct sellers that can come to you (including Sseko), and so many more brands close to you.
Minimalism and ethical fashion are best friends.
How can I afford it?
It is no secret that ethical fashion is a bit more expensive than say target or outlet priced clothing. In all reality, it is about the same price point as your Ann Taylor or even Macy’s clothing. But, if you find yourself shopping the clearance at Target instead of Ann Taylor, try not spending any money at all on clothing for one month. Save the money instead and see how much you would have spent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends about $1856 per year on clothing per household. So, chances are you could have spent 100 or more on clothing in 1 month. That buys an outfit that is ethically made. Buy better, not more. You will keep it for longer, I promise.
(A post you might like here from Eco Warrior Princess blog)
Second hand is still an option.
It is still environmentally and people friendly to use what others do not want. Head over to your nearest Clothes Mentor or shop online at ThredUp. Or look to Facebook pages dedicated to swapping, buy, or trading clothing. I even listed an ethical swap site below.
There is so much information to take in and learn on your ethical fashion journey. Learning to question how a product was made or if the production of the product was harmful or helpful to anyone is also a good tool. Over time, you will learn. Maybe with a bit of help though.
One last thing that you will need on this journey is a group of people around you that understand your struggles and can help you. They may only be a step further in their journey, but having community is a huge help. Head on over to FB and join a few groups. You will be happy that you did:)
Let me know if you joined these groups so I can say hey to you!