We don’t like to think about it too much, but somewhere in the back of our minds, we know we’re causing harm to the world. A cheap, but stylish blouse that makes us feel amazing was likely made by a poor girl in a factory with appalling conditions. As we become more conscious about our purchases, we have the power to change the industry for the better, and force manufacturers to change their working conditions. One way to do this is by giving our money to companies that enforce responsible and safe conditions for their workers and still generate high-quality products. Here are just a few ways you can be a more conscientious shopper, while still looking fabulous when you walk down the street.
Read the labels
You don’t have to be a full on vegan to care about the animals that make your clothes. Real leather and suede are made from the skin and hides of animals. Fur is taken from animals raised or trapped specifically for their coats. Even silk is problematic; it’s made from a fiber that is naturally secreted by silkworms, but sometimes the worms are boiled alive to extract extra amounts of silk to meet demand. Fortunately, you don’t have to shop in specialty stores to make sure your clothes are cruelty-free. All you have to do is read the label. The next time you’re shopping for a new blouse, there will be information on the label telling you whether it’s made from 100 percent polyester, or if it contains 35 percent wool.
Fashion trends rise and fall every year, and while some older fashions are put out in the bargain bin for you to buy at incredible discounts, some things end up in the bin and eventually contribute to ever-growing tips. Sunglasses, for example, change style from year to year, but the materials aren’t biodegradable, which means they’re going to lie on those rubbish piles for years to come. Fortunately, some conscientious designers have created bamboo sunglasses, which means that they will be made from a sustainable material that requires far fewer resources to grow than wood or synthetic materials like plastic. Bamboo grows faster than other sources and requires very minimal maintenance, so it is the cheapest and most responsible option by far. The only way to get the fashion industry to adjust their policies to incorporate bamboo and other environmentally friendly resources is by giving your money to companies that already have these policies in place.
It’s great when you start making your shopping more cruelty-free. There is even a growing market for vegetarian and vegan shoes, so choosing between durable shoes and being cruelty-free might soon be a thing of the past, and all boots will be made for walking.
Finally, you don’t have to go far to be a responsible clothes shopper. Mango, Zara, H&M, and Topshop are great examples of stores that make cruelty free and ethical clothing, proving that responsible choices are affordable and accessible.
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