by COLLEEN LAKE '23
In early December, the Social Justice Club devoted a week to raising student awareness about the dangers of fast fashion and the resulting importance of ethical purchasing. As the holiday season approaches, you are likely scrambling to find gifts for a secret Santa, significant other, or family member. When searching for these gifts, the Social Justice Club encourages you to try and purchase at least one ethically sourced item. If you do not know what qualifies an item as ethically sourced or why this topic is so important right now, look no further.
Fast fashion is the rapid mass production of clothing at minimal costs, harming both workers and the environment. In prioritizing profit margins, large corporations choose to dispose of wastes in cheap ways resulting in excess waste and chemical buildup in landfills. Additionally, a rise in fast fashion results in the use of cheap materials such as polyester which are typically worn one or twice then disposed of. In Australia alone, 500 million kilograms of unwanted clothing ends up in landfills. Supplementing waste, fast fashion has encouraged factories to be moved to countries where companies pay workers unlivable wages. These wages, commonly around 25 cents per hour, make it nearly impossible for garment workers to financially support their families.
The international push for an ethical fashion market is on the rise with an emphasis on fair trade. Fair trade certified companies are clothing manufacturers which use safely sourced products while maintaining high wages for their workers. The growing success of fair trade is rooted in the idea of ethical purchasing. Ethical purchasing is defined as “intentionally purchasing products which are manufactured with minimal harm to animals, environment and humans.”
The issue for the average consumer is that it can be difficult to distinguish ethical and unethical brands. Numerous websites and apps have information highlighting ethical brands of ranging price and popularity, specifically The Good On You app and The Fair Trade Certified websites. These sites are two of my favorite options to look at the pros and cons of various brands as they provide rankings of company policies and conveniently give buyers a price range of each brand.
A few examples of sustainable clothing brands to shop at this holiday season include Reformation, Patagonia, and Pact. This year I decided to buy my dress for the winter formal from Reformation, and made an effort to look for sustainable brands this holiday. Therefore, while ethical purchasing can often be difficult, this holiday season is the perfect time to try an ethical choice when adding to your Christmas list!