A few weeks ago I was innocently listening to a podcast when I stumbled upon Hayley Morgan. I know very little about her, except that she co-wrote a new book all my blog friends are raving about. I kind of expected her to be another cute, funny, love-God-and-people Christian writers. (Not insulting these people…you’re reading one of them. LOL.)
To my surprise, I walked away from that podcast a different person.
I think different thoughts. There was an issue I’ve known for years I should get around to thinking about, dealing with, doing something about…but I just…didn’t.
And that issue is Where My Stuff Comes From. If I pull out the word “fair trade” I feel like I’m going political on us, and half us are thinking about coffee.
So stick with me a minute while I confess some real-life things to you. While we’re on the topic, I do not buy fair trade coffee. I researched it a while ago and got all confused if that was best or not. So I actually reach OVER the fair trade coffee to buy the normal stuff.
I buy my kids clothing from Old Navy, Walmart, or wherever else I want without thinking ONE IOTA about what life is like in the tag places like Cambodia or Thailand. I like Forever 21, and Banana, and Lululemon as much as the next attempting-to-be-trendy-stay-at-home-mom. Right now I have three yoga leggings in my Gap/Athleta shopping cart that I am positively convinced I need for winter.
In short, I am A Normal American Woman, without giving a speck of critical thought about Our Retail Situation. But there is one.
Did you know, dear readers, that this THING of shopping for 17 different “seasons” of the year, is actually new? Did you know that as recently as our mothers’ time (and incidentally, all of existence prior to that) people wore the same seven outfits all winter, and then the same seven all summer, maybe less? AND NO ONE THOUGHT A DARN THING ABOUT IT?
As Hayley explained in her rock-my-world podcast, it’s a new thing, the Gluttony of Fashion and making us think we need a new Thing every three weeks. You know what I mean by the Thing. That new thing that you didn’t see at Target two Tuesdays ago, but there it is – and “everyone” has it.
Aside from being probably not the best use of our money, and aside from being incredibly exhausting – aside from all that – buying cheap-but-trendy clothes incessantly is a bad idea for another reason.
There’s a dark, dirty little secret of the clothing industry. To quote Hayley:
Most clothes are sewn by laborers who are massively underpaid and overworked. Inexpensive clothes are so cheap because the money is saved by paying workers (sometimes children) so little.
Child workers. Sweaty, chemical-ridden shops. I don’t know that I’m yet in the position to say it’s “wrong” to buy shopping bags full of trendy items from Cambodia…only do it again next year, and the next…
But I definitely know now that there is a different decision. A better decision.
There is a way to clothe our people, and feel good (not neutral, or conflicted, but good) about that money spent. See, I love Hayley because she doesn’t just blog about it, or late-night-talk with her husband about it…
They actually quit their jobs to open a small business that produces ethically-made children’s clothing.
That is what I call putting your money where your mouth is.
Her Wildly Co. “designs, produces, screen prints, and packages ethically made kids clothes in the USA. At Wildly Co., ‘ethically made’ is defined by: fair labor practices, empowering women, fair trade, giving campaigns, and creating sustainable jobs. Ethically made, for us, really means there’s no part of our business or process we will hide from our customers. It means the products we make and sell will not be made based on the hardship of another family.”
Hayley herself sketches the designs, handpicks the fabrics, and puts together her custom Kids Capsule Wardrobes twice a year.
I’m not saying we all have to go start buying everything from Wildly Co. (but it’s certainly worth checking out!!) I think in the past, I’ve been scared to even open this “Pandora’s box” of Where My Stuff Comes From, because I felt like it was an all or nothing. Like I had to instanteously replace every speck of Gap in our home with imported African tribal tunics or something.
I think there are smaller baby steps that we can consider to begin caring for the poor workers, who are in fact our neighbors.
- Second guess the CRAZY NOTION THAT WE HAVE TO HAVE A COMPLETE PERFECT WARDROBE EVERY THREE MONTHS.
- Buy quality items and wear them out. Even better option: buy them from companies like Hayley’s.
- Consider buying gifts from fair-trade sources, local shops, and ethically-made suppliers. Goodness, Christmas is coming and there are a HOST of resources to find great stuff from these types of places.
- Whenever possible, buy clothing from ethically-made businesses.
Hayley, BLESS YOU for having the gumption to not just feel bad, but do something. May we all do the same.
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