Making the switch to ethical shopping can be challenging, but if you can harness even a little bit of your passion for positive change, you will be able to take the first step. Once that’s done you can forge ahead finding your new favourite ethical brands and retailers and start leaving your old fast and dirty life behind you!
No Change Comes Without Challenge and Reward
A switch from your old shopping habits to new ones can be difficult. There are definitely pros and cons to making the switch, but in the long run, the benefits will far outweigh the shortfalls.
The most obvious pro is the feel-good benefits. You’ll love the experience of authentic giving, as well as knowing that your unique purchase will be appreciated for a long time.
There are benefits to your conscience too. Many of us know the right choices to make, but we bargain with ourselves for the short-term gain. Sticking to your principles gives you a great boost to your own self-worth.
One of the most underestimated pros is that ethical shopping (especially online) is generally a much more relaxing and inspiring experience. No mad queues, or buying what has been advertised aggressively. No wasted time finding car parking in busy shopping centres. Instead you can relax in your own home with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and browse away at your leisure.
Buying products made by workers that are treated with respect in their workplace, being paid fair wages and in a safe environment, has a tenfold benefit. A report called Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017 by Boston Consulting Group revealed that a simple 5% increase in retail price could double the wages of the workers who made the garment.
Buying Fairtrade has its own unique set of pros. Not only does it promote gender equality by providing stable and regulated employment solutions for women, (70% of the garment industry workforce are women and 70% of the world’s poor are women). It also recognises the significant impacts that well employed women have on future generations – from education, to nutrition to health care, to breaking cycles of poverty and of course building stronger future workforces. Learn more here.
The Cons (with solutions!):
It’s true that finding ethical gifts can be challenging and time consuming. There’s the con. However, part of the reason for that is branding! We are so conditioned to buy brands based on logos and perceived value and we are so spoilt for choice, that we forget how to shop outside of our normal habits. It will take some time in the beginning to find your new favourite ethical brands but once you know who they are you’ll never look back.
Remember – big brands pour their money into marketing and brand development. Ethical brands put it into their supply chain and their products.
‘The cost’ is often considered a con – however ‘the true cost’ is the greatest con. As suggested in our last post, watching the documentary The True Cost will be provide valuable insights into the issues.
Ethical shopping means moving away from cheap gimmicks and gadgets so you may have to say goodbye to your usual ‘stocking stuffers’ at Christmas. There’ll be less volume but much more ‘bang for your buck’ in terms of quality, longevity and social and environmental impact. Check out the recent Australian series, War on Waste
Finally, a pro disguised as a con – you have to be better organised and you can’t shop last minute. Seems like a con but just imagine NOT having to battle crowds at busy shopping centres, to get presents, in a rush, that you put no thought into!
All this detective work may feel a little overwhelming at first, but harness that burst of new year motivation we all get and it won’t take long to get things in motion. Even a small shift can make a difference.
The fashion industry is really driven by us, the consumers. We have the power to choose and start making a change. It is the road less travelled, but just like Finders and Makers, you too can stand up for the welfare of people who make what we wear. We hope you too can take some action.
Until next time
Photo credits in order of appearance: Clark Tibbs, Ian Schneider, Joe Gardner, Edu Lauton
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