During a recent trip to Texas with family my dad asked me about a brand as we walked through Nordstrom’s if they were a “save the world” brand. That’s what my dad calls Toms and other brands that give back. Now many for-profit businesses have varying opinions on the ‘something for nothing’ model that Toms has popularized but I find myself drawn more to businesses and brands that simply seek to do better for all along their production chain, specifically hiring and paying a fair wage to women which is a big deal in developing countries & to me.
I get that I’ve got it pretty good in life. But that doesn’t mean I can’t help better someone else’s. Instead of buying cheap products where inmates in China are paid pennies on the dollar for 14 hour days with no breaks, why not buy from a brand that hires women in India and pay them a fair wage to break a cycle of poverty? Why not buy from a brand that employs girls during their gap year before college to save enough money to go to University and change the world? Why not buy from a brand that employs organic cotton farmers? Or recycles old saris into blankets? Or rescues women from sex trafficking, provides them with skills training and then a job so they are no longer at risk to become victims again?
Yep, it’s more expensive initially but it is cheaper in the long run. Beginning in January I have made a strong effort to buy from small, ethical, and fair trade businesses.
When you commit to doing something like this you will find you are buying less, buying better, and won’t have buyers remorse. Admittedly, I’m still tempted by the cute tee at Target or those shoes, or bag. But what stops me is will buying this have directly impacted the person’s life who made it? Will I love this in 6 months? a year?
Yep, I bought a pair of $90 sandals. And you know what? I’m excited to wear them for the next 5-10 years. I also sold several pieces from my closet I wasn’t using to pay for them. Thrifting is a great way to get rid of pieces in your closet you simply don’t love or wear to make money for the things you really do want to wear.
The goal is to produce less textile waste, love what’s in your closet, buy less, and wear longer.
This post is in no way trying to shame my dad, he sees business differently and I’m slowly working on him to understand why this matters to me. If it’s important to me, it’s important to him, he likes to say. I just want to know that when I buy something I’m not padding the pockets of CEO’s while condemning workers in developing nations to a life of poverty and overworking them. God doesn’t make mistakes but why should they pay the price for a $10 shirt sold here? Is their life worth less than mine? Without them I wouldn’t be able to get dressed in the morning and I dare say you might not be able too.
I heard a quote once and don’t know who said it or where it is from, if you know kindly let me know!
Fair Trade does business the way you want business to be.
Or something like that.
It’s the idea that fair trade cares about it’s artisans, employees, and the earth more than it’s bottom dollar. I want to live in a world like that. Where people matter more than money. Maybe that’s a bad business philosophy but it’s the one I have and the one I will continue with.
Also, thanks dad for raising me to be passionate & deeply caring.