Thursday, March 7, 2013

Living with Conviction is a PAIN!

So - I gave up chocolate last fall when I somehow stumbled across a post about child slavery in the chocolate industry - and dear god - this has been researched and documented by the BBC.  Okay, the BBC.  They are usually pretty good about getting their facts straight.  So I, lover of peanut M&M's, have not had chocolate outside of the occasional (and not always easy to find) Fair Trade bar, since.  Not one M&M, not one Reeses Peanut butter cup.

Thank goodness Costco carried Fair Trade coffee or I'd need medication.

And now I am faced with the challenge of keeping 6 growing kids in clothes that are ethically sourced. Thankfully the youngest lives out of hand-me-downs from friends.  I feel completely guilt free in accepted already purchased clothing.  However that leaves 5.  As the 10 year old boy is taller than the 12 year old boy and *destroys* everything (I am sure there is an actually psychology study there but...) there is no handing down between children 2 and 3.  The oldest daughter is closing in on 15 and doesn't weigh 100 punds yet and fits in size 0 - the 8 year daughter is a more muscular build and there is no point in saving the size 0 - and the 6 year old's birth mother was 5 feet tall.  She will never fit properly into either of the other girl's clothes.  So I save fancy dresses, and school jumpers but that is about it.  So yes - 5 kids - 5 different clothing needs.  I used to cash in American Express Points (when your husband travels every week, and buys his plane ticket with his AmEx, and his rental car, and his hotel rooms, and his meals for 4 days, and... it adds up) for gift cards at GAP and Lands Ends.  Perfect for school uniforms.  And now that Gap owns Piperlime and Banana Republic, the high schooler was covered too.  But now I have to consider wether or not what I'm putting on my children is ruining water in another part of the world, or adding to smog in China (which creeps across the ocean to Alaska and California) or... [previous posts in regards to reading "Overdressed" by Elizabeth Cline, Helen Hunt, The After Life of Cheap Clothes, Over-dressed )

No cheap t-shirts made by dumping dye into rivers...

So here we are:

For Easter I bought Chocolate Bunnies from Mama Ganache.  Fair Trade. Organic. And the website says call them, they'll help you with shipping options if they can.  So I did call them.  I explained that I needed the box of 6 because that is a better price than buying 6 individual bunnies but that I was trying to reduce shipping, so they worked it out that they'll send me 6 bunnies (not in a boxed set) so they'll fit into the smallest shipping box and I'll get the lowest shipping rate... I think I like these people.

I patronize the newly renamed Artisan Handbags and Accessories.

But where to buy clothes?
Elizabeth Cline offers a few suggestions:
EPIC (Echo Park Independent Co-op)
Alta Gracia
Karen Kane produces some 80% of its garments in Los Angeles.
Single produces 90% of its garments in Los Angeles:
L.A.'s Single brand can turn around 800 silk print dresses for Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor in as little as two weeks, now that 90% of its production is done at home. "We recently brought more of our production back from China," said Galina Sobolev, designer-founder of the $15-million brand. "The price difference was only about a dollar per [dress], and the quality control and timing were much better. We're also providing jobs and keeping domestic factories working." from LA Times (Admittedly, in 2012 there are also articles to be found about sweatshop conditions in L.A.)

Elizabeth Cline visited Alta Gracia and spoke with people who did the sewing.  She noted this company for being a good place to work.  They pay well (3 times the minimum wage).  Employees can form a union. The Workers Rights Consortium monitors the factory.

A quick google search on Fair Trade clothes sends me to Maggie's organics. And Fair Indigo. Fair Trade USA

But I'm still struggling with the kids clothes part of this equation.  I know one answer is to sew them myself.  I can sew, I sew Halloween costumes, but I am not sure I'm up to the task of keeping 6 kids dressed.

And shoes.  Where are we supposed to buy shoes?
well, I googled "fair trade shoes" and what do you know?  For the price of a very popular brand at the moment, you can buy a fair trade, sustainable shoe at Sole Rebels other Fair Trade options include Safa, Blackspot shoes but so far nothing specifically for my children.


FoxyMoron said...

Good for you, I should be more conscious of these things also.
Can't believe that you too, have a child who destroys clothes. Who destroys clothes? My Emily that's who, I've never seen anything like it. She has been known to cut off the sleeve of a top when she suddenly got a craft idea that needs fabric. Then she complains she has no clothes! Kids.

troutbirder said...

Indeed. We try to eat organic here in the country but the price and distance differential is discouraging. In spite of pleas our local small town market only provide chemical industrailized food...:(

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Meg said...

I haven't done any research, but how about Toms? No, they probably aren't dress up shoes and they don't last, but there are places online that sell them cheap ~$20 a pair. Google "toms outlet".

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