Shop Ethically and Choose to Do Good in 2017

Change how you approach shopping, and make a commitment that’s much easier than you think (and does more good than you know).

We met Rupa last year when we were working on this story about Fashion Revolution Day, and we’ve shopped 100% ethically ever since. It was so life-changing that we asked her to write up something that might help our readers buy with the same principles they hold close in other areas of life.

Think about the last thing you bought. What were the three factors you considered before purchasing that product?

Got them? Good. Hold on to that thought…

I believe that each of us have impactful purchasing power, and that our choices matter. We are all consumers with an increasing responsibility to purchase thoughtfully and to minimize the harm caused to people and our planet.

The key to making this choice is knowledge. Getting that knowledge takes just a little bit of effort (thank you, Google), but the reward is worth it.

Let’s say, you want to buy a white T-shirt. Easy, right? Most stores carry plain white tees. But what’s the real story behind how each one is made? You can find out in three easy steps by reading the labels, the tags, and researching the brand.

  1. Does your shirt’s label tell you what country it was made in? Probably, and you should care because the country is the starting point of the journey the shirt took to get into your hands. And knowing that will help you start thinking in terms of real people. A person, an actual person in an actual country made that T-shirt.

Different countries have different regulations on manufacturing, and often, clothes are made in countries with the least amount of red tape. In other words, the working conditions many American companies encourage in developing countries to bring us cheap clothing wouldn’t be tolerated in our country. Why tolerate those conditions in others?

  1. Does it tell you how it was made? Maybe. If it says Fair Trade Certified, you know the person who made that garment is being treated with respect and dignity. If it says nothing, then you want to make sure the person who made that tee is not suffering in some way. Working in an unsafe working condition where the building could collapse, getting paid far below a living wage, being underage or separated from their family to make ends meet are just a few examples of sacrifices and suffering endured by the people that make our clothes.

Unfortunately, the apparel industry is plagued with these types of issues, and taking a look at the brand’s Code of Conduct/Ethics page available on their website will give you insight. Make sure the codes are self-enforced and not something to which the brand must adhere. Transparency is the key, and the more detail they give, the better. Brands who have made a commitment to ethical manufacturing are very proud of that fact, so you should have no trouble finding ethical information, if there is any to find. If you’ve been searching on their website and coming up short, that’s not a good sign.

  1. Does the shirt’s label tell you what materials it was made from? This is almost a given, and it tells you a lot. For example, 100% organic cotton is A LOT different than just 100% cotton. If the label says “GOTS certified”, then you know the cotton is chemical-free and the water was properly treated, which creates safe conditions for farm workers. Conventional cotton uses large quantities of insecticides and pesticides, nearby water supplies are often polluted from the dyeing of textiles, and farm workers suffer from serious health problems due to overexposure to chemicals. Get to know your materials, because there is an increasing appetite for sustainable materials that use fewer natural resources and generate lower impact on our environment. If you don’t know the material (or even if you just need a refresher), take a few minutes to educate yourself on how it is made!

Now, let’s go back to the three factors you considered before purchasing your last product. Let’s assume that both cost and quality made your list, or some similar factors. Now, take whatever you had for the third option and replace it with “IMPACT”. Everything we purchase, from toothbrushes to T-shirts, makes a positive or negative impact on the environment and people. I believe that if everyone were given a choice they would always choose to make a positive lasting impact.

Buy within your budget, buy things you truly love, buy knowing you did good. Next time you need to purchase something, make a thoughtful choice to find out the story behind the product by reading the labels, the tags, and researching the brand.

Ethical shopping involves one or two extra steps, but each of us has the knowledge to succeed literally at our fingertips. Make a commitment to buy responsibly this year, and vote with your dollars.

Love This is a mobile boutique out of a vintage Airstream Trailer inspiring consumers to make ethical shopping choices. Curators of goods that do good, we highlight brands that place equal value in the design of their products as they do their social, environmental, + economic impact.

What’s this Saturday’s “March on Monument” and Why Should You Be There?

Let me answer your question with a question: Do you feel that Richmond should show that it is an inclusive place to live and visit? Do you like a pleasant walk and an opportunity to connect with volunteer groups that might be able to use your help?

Before you get confused, this article is not about the Women’s March on Washington, it’s about this weekend’s March on Monument in RVA.

Like many of us, Melissa Brooks and Beth Fuchs found themselves with their jaws on the floor as the General Election results became clear. It felt like we were on course to reverse any progress we’d made in the efforts to secure the rights of women, people of color, immigrants, practicers of all sorts of religions, and LGBTQ individuals. They also experienced the same electric jolt to do something, anything, that would help.

Over the next few weeks, little groups focusing on various inclusivity efforts started springing up alongside calls to help out existing groups. The Women’s March on Washington (set for January 21st) was established, and signups reached impressive levels within days. The energy was good, but it felt scattered, and these two friends wondered what could be done to help people, women in particular, to connect the dots.

Where, in Richmond, could they find kindred spirits with which to organize? How could they all come together to make a statement that our city has a thriving community of welcoming individuals? What would show the nation that Richmond is determined to remain a safe haven for its citizens as well as its visitors?

Well, a giant peaceful gathering sure might do the trick!

What is this gathering of which you speak?

The March on Monument is an event that Melissa, Beth, and some other fine folks have organized for us. Thank you, Melissa, Beth, and folks!

They’ve done all the confusing and often frustrating permit stuff, raised the money for those permits, organized volunteers, secured a great program of speakers and a whole slew of volunteer organizations to come have a presence, and they’re spreading the word themselves.

All we gotta do is show up!

Where: The March begins at the Lee monument on Monument Avenue and N. Allen Street

When: This Saturday, January 14 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM

Objective: Connect social justice-minded Richmonders with other social justice-minded Richmonders, give volunteer organizations a chance to get their word out, and show the rest of Richmond that they’re accepted no matter who they are.

Who should come?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, this event is for you:

  1. Do you want people to feel like they are accepted in Richmond regardless of their sex, color, or creed?
  2. Do you worry that this may not always be the case?
  3. Are you a woman and/or a person who believes that women should be on an equal footing with men? (Bonus! If you answer this one positively, congratulations, you are a feminist! Maybe you had no idea!)
  4. Do you want to know what you can do in your community to make a difference?
  5. Do you feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start?

Well, come on down to Allen and Monument, friends, because that’s your starting point.

In the words of march co-organizer Melissa Brooks, “Start here, come here, be here together. Let others hear and see you, and hear and see others. Let Richmond see you.”

“That’s a power move that women have not traditionally taken,” she continues. “Women are in the background, they’re behind the scenes, they’re working. We want to say, ‘Here we are, and we have concerns. We’re not going to go quietly in the night. It’s really a unification for men and women.”

What’s going to happen?

Beginning at 1pm and lasting until 1:45pm, you’ll have an opportunity to walk around and talk to some folks from various volunteer organizations. Then, a few strong and inspiring women will take the stage.

The lineup includes:

And then we march, walking the eight blocks to the Boulevard. Bring a sign, bring your friends, bring your family, bring your neighbors (particularly the ones without transportation), and…don’t bring your dogs, please.

Then at the end, newly elected State Senator Jennifer McClellan will do her motivating thing (and she is very motivating!), sending us all off for a life that will have more connections, more ideas, and more solidarity.

Let’s just get this out there, what if I voted for Trump?

Listen, you are welcome. If you answer any of those questions above positively, then you will show the powers that be that intolerance has no place here. It doesn’t matter who you voted for, it just matters that you show them you mean business.

What will I get out of this?

You’ll know that there are things you can do, and that you aren’t alone. You will show others that they aren’t alone. You will feel hope and you will pride. And then maybe you will go get a tattoo to commemorate the experience and benefit Planned Parenthood. Not required, but pretty cool.