Style Wise is my new blog dedicated to providing fair trade resources for the conscientious consumer. From now on, all fair trade posts will be posted on Style Wise. You can access it anytime by clicking on the Fair Trade category on the sidebar of this blog. I hope you’ll follow along.
(based on a misreading of A Beautiful Mess blog’s challenge)
- Grow my online business: be intentional about advertising, sourcing items, bookkeeping, and having an online presence.
- Put money in savings every month: emergency preparedness and stocking away for the future are always good things.
- Buy fair trade/second hand as often as possible: stop making excuses and consider all my consumer options.
- Travel to a new place: go somewhere I haven’t been before.
I did my best to establish achievable goals that I really want to pursue. 2013 will be a good year as long as I stay motivated and don’t overwhelm myself. One thing at a time.
I’ve been burdened by the sentiment above for the past several months. On my old blog, I started a goal called The Secondhand Year whose guidelines demanded I buy as many material goods as possible on the secondhand market instead of buying into an unethical, international fast fashion market. I struggled with it. I excused myself by it. I succeeded and failed in equal measure. But I can’t give it up.
I not only believe but know that it is immoral to participate in our consumerist culture in full knowledge that I contribute to darkness and suffering. When I purchase a garment from Kohl’s or Sears or Forever 21, I implicitly shout that I am ok with treating people who work at their garment factories like crap, that I am ok with the fact that they don’t make enough to give their children better futures, that they consider suicide a viable option, that they could very easily die for the cause of producing cheap garments at less than a liveable wage for gluttonous Americans. We must look like devils to them, absorbed in our coveting and spending and hoarding. We freaking shoot people on Black Friday to buy the products they slaved over at low, low prices without a second thought about their well being.
I’m being dishonest if I toss and turn over this reality and promote its demise but continue to buy into it. Shopping is the thorn in my flesh. I may fight against its flirting gaze for the rest of my life. But I have to keep fighting.
The tree is up, adorned with an assortment of ornaments, old and new. Our most prized ones are from Ten Thousand Villages, a Mennonite-founded company that provides jobs to artisans around the world at a fair wage. The tree topper is 1970s Hallmark.
I’ve compiled a mini list of ethical companies and resources for you to peruse:
- The Hunger Site
- ModCloth “Made in the USA” search
- American Apparel
- Worishofer (the Wikipedia article is hilarious)
- Fair Trade USA partners list
- Ten Thousand Villages
- People Tree
- Swedish Hasbeens
- Golden Ponies
- Goodwill Industries
Don’t forget to shop local, too. You likely have access to lots of small farmers and businesses from which you can purchase locally produced, organic products. Thrift shops and vintage stores are a great alternative to buying new. As Amy Skoczlas Cole of eBay’s Green Team says, “The greenest product is the one that already exists.”
I ordered three StyleMint tees on sale through an eBay flash sale and am quite excited about the outfit possibilities (if they ever arrive; I’m prepared to leave some unsatisfactory feedback about shipping times).
To control my shopaholic tendencies, I try to pair new items with items very similar to what I have in my closet, to brainstorm in a practical and frugal way.
Outfit 1: Thrifted and altered polka dot cardigan; StyleMint tee; handmade knit skirt; knee high socks, Minnetonka moccasins purchased on eBay for $10; ModCloth watch (I don’t actually own that one…yet – Christmas present?)
Outfit 2: StyleMint tee; (of)matter necklace purchased with credit; high waist jeans; Target cardigan (my favorite from last season); Vera Bradley Saddle Up bag in Ellie Blue purchased for $30 on eBay (regular price, $68)
What I enjoy about having this blog, one with an open title, is that there are no rules. I can write on local events, daily experience, and style without worrying about whether or not I’m staying within my own guidelines. There are no guidelines! I think that personal style is a superficial topic. But I also think it’s fun to assess my wardrobe. Getting dressed is like drawing on a chalkboard: an outfit is temporary but it can still be thoughtful and inspiring.
On a slightly different note, I’m fairly certain that I need to go all secondhand/fair trade with my purchases. To use an evangelical term, I have felt convicted – for at least the past 9 months – that supporting companies that source and produce their goods in countries without fair labor standards is unethical, is sinful. If you followed me at my old blog, you’ll recall that I instated a “Secondhand Year” challenge, in which I determined to buy only secondhand and fair trade items for the entire year. I failed due to my own greed and lack of motivation. But I want to pick it back up. Even though keeping up with trends is the worst reason to shop ethically, I realized that it’s not as difficult as one might think to be fashionable and moral at the same time; it just takes a bit more effort. A combination of thrifting, buying secondhand on sites like eBay and etsy, and purchasing from fair trade companies provides a variety of products and price ranges. Companies like ModCloth also allow you to search by “Made in USA.”
I will stop rambling now and allow you to get on with your day.