Making the change to fair trade and ethical shopping was really intimidating at first because it seemed like the selection was minuscule in comparison to the endless options I had when my shopping habits remained unchecked. As it turns out, there are a great many more fair trade resources than I expected. However, domestically accessible fair trade clothing companies can be a bit wanting in the fashion department (unless your style fits precisely within their bohemian-meets-1950s-housewife aesthetic) and thrift shopping can drive you crazy when you’re looking for something specific.
So, what do you do on a Saturday afternoon when you’ve got (a little) cash to spend and an urge to go to the mall?
Do your research, then head to a department store. Avoid brand shops like American Eagle or Forever 21 because they have non-explicit labor standards. Go to Dillard’s, or better yet, Marshalls or T.J. Maxx, because they’re more likely to buy from domestic boutique brands that produce garments on a smaller scale in America or England.
I’ve had good luck finding ethically produced clothing at both T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. On a quick trip over to Marshalls yesterday, I found a Made in USA dress by Finn & Clover, a Made in USA shirt from Rolla Coster, and Greenscape organic lavender lotion made in South Africa (where labor standards are similar to ours and there are no significant labor violations). The key is to walk into the store with purpose backed up by a basic knowledge of labor standards and quality of life in various countries, and to not compromise on that knowledge when it’s time to make the purchase.
Read up. Check tags. Make sure you actually want the item. Then buy it.