In today’s society, there seems to be a shift. Many companies, brands, and singular individuals are saying how necessary it is to support ethical companies, live sustainably, and become more eco-friendly. If you’re new to this specific world, or have really only heard these things in passing, you may be wondering what it all means, and if it’s really important, or just another trend to follow.
As a social entrepreneur myself, and being part of a company full of Artisans, social entrepreneurs, and general do-gooders, I can assure you that these things are most certainly important.
When You Shop Ethically
My family and I lived in Haiti for 2 years, and as a result, I was able to see the impact of supporting ethical and small business directly. It was actually because of our time in Haiti that we were incredibly inspired to create our company in the first place. Haiti was beautiful, and also humbling; our time there further taught us the importance of valuing simplicity, beauty, and humanity.
On a day to day basis, it may be difficult to see the impact of where you shop, or trust that the goods you’re purchasing were made in fairness to all. When you shop ethically, sustainably, and small, you often see and feel the impact. Business owners often reach out to say thank you. Sometimes a small gift is added to your purchase in gratitude. Social entrepreneurs tend to share stories and pictures to their social media pages and emails to show how you, individually, have made a difference – both for them and their business, as well as for the makers.
Stopping Fast Fashion
Ethical fashion is also important to support because it puts a big stop sign on ‘fast fashion’ or current trends that are ‘in’ each season. When you see clothing that gets swapped in and out of stores within a months’ (or sometimes even weeks’) time, this is what we call fast fashion, and often it consists of clothing and accessories that violate workers rights by forcing them to overwork. Fast fashion also wastes water, overuses energy consumption, hurts the environment, and wastes materials to create items that will be worn a maximum of 2-3 times. As harming as it is, fast fashion is very prevalent, but thankfully more and more people are turning to ethical companies and purchases.
Moving to Ethical Fashion
Ethical fashion is a large term that can have many different purposes and elements, depending on the environment and company in which it’s produced. However, ethical fashion is essentially the protection and fair treatment of workers and their rights, as well as promoting their livelihood and sustainability. Ethical fashion also takes into account the environment, animals, water, and waste – usually attempting to do no harm to them. Ethical fashion promotes environmental awareness, worker and farmer safety, and is, in my personal opinion, how the fashion and accessory industry should be run. There is beauty in sentiment – reaching for a bracelet that was handcrafted by a talented Artisan based in Kenya and knowing you’ve supported both their craft and livelihood, rather than something that is flimsy and plastic from a big box store, can be very uplifting for the soul.
I think it’s incredibly important to consider our actions as consumers. We need to take a deeper look at where we are purchasing from, what we are purchasing, and whenever possible, consider the values, environment, and ethics of the companies we’re investing our money in. What we find may be surprising, and may just be the call for change we need.
If you’d like to start supporting ethical fashion + accessories but are not sure how, please consider taking a look at Mango + Moose. Our ethical and sustainable fashion, as well as Fair Trade Practices and support of artisans, will definitely inspire you.
Written by Tanya Donahue
Tanya Donahue is a RevolutionHER™ member based out of Kelowna, BC. She is the Founder and CEO of Mango + Moose, a socially conscious fashion and lifestyle brand. Tanya works with Artisans in developing nations to curate and design jewellery, accessories, home and baby goods. The company slogan “where global meets local” embodies the nature of Mango + Moose. Located in Canada, they provide a marketplace for goods not only made in Canada but also in developing nations such as Haiti, Guatemala, India, Nepal, Mali, Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, and East Asia.