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In 2019, the UN stated that we only have 11 years left before environmental devastation became irreversible. We're down to only a decade left. More people are coming into the light about the climate collapse we're all facing. Thankfully, people want to know how they can make changes to support a better future. One way to do that is by the way we shop. Choosing to buy ethical shoes is a great place to start. So what are ethical shoes? What does ethical sourcing mean, and does it make an impact? We go into all the details below.
The Problem With Modern Fashion
You've probably heard the term "fast fashion" before, and you get a general idea that it's bad. But unless you've done your research, you may not know exactly how awful fast fashion is for the environment, and even for the people who produce it. Fast fashion refers to the high turnover of clothes. Producers use cheap materials and cheap labor to quickly race through fashion trends. They encourage people to keep buying as new trends come through. But there's a problem with cheap materials and cheap labor. Fast fashion is environmentally devastating. To make one cotton t-shirt (the kind you can usually find for about $10) takes 700 gallons of water to make. Fashion is the second biggest industry when it comes to pollution - right behind oil. It's responsible for 10% of all the carbon emissions in the world. And it's not good for the workers either. 1 in 6 people worldwide works in the fashion industry. Of these, only 2% of them make a living wage. That means hundreds of millions of people are slaving away in unsafe conditions and still can't feed their families. We've just scratched the surface since this isn't an article about how awful fast fashion is. But if you want a deeper look, and a good laugh, check out this episode of the Patriot Act.
How Does Ethical Fashion Help?
There's a lot of steps and processes that go into making clothes, and it's hard to trace them the whole way. For example, to grow the cotton in that t-shirt, where does the cotton come from? How are the workers treated? Does the plantation where the cotton is grown focus on rejuvenating farming practices? Then the cotton has to be processed and turned into fabric. How are those workers treated? What kinds of chemicals go into the cloth? Were those chemicals tested on animals? Are they toxic for the workers? So on and so forth, through every set of hands that touches your clothing until it reaches you. And when it does reach you, how far did it have to travel before that? What kind of carbon footprint does it have just from transportation? As you can see, there's an intense network of ethical lines behind your clothing choices. Ethical fashion works to track these lines through their sources. They want to guarantee the consumer that their financial choices support a good cause.
Good for the Workers
Ethically sourced clothing focuses on ensuring that people are protected throughout production. It wants to ensure that workers are in a safe environment that doesn't compromise their health and they're fairly compensated for the work they do. You can look for fair trade certification on ethical shoe companies and clothing companies. This way you make sure you're supporting companies that better the lives of the people who make your product.
Good for the Planet
Ethically sourced clothing also focuses on making sure clothing is produced in a way that's good for the environment. It's carbon-neutral, or otherwise sustainably produced. This means less carbon in the air, healthier farming practices, and smarter use of water. All of this ties together to help create a safer, more sustainable planet.
Simple Changes You Can Make
When you want to fight fast fashion, there's, fortunately, a lot you can do. And it comes down to these three simple principles.
One simple way you can fight fast fashion is simply by buying less. You don't have to get on the bandwagon with every new trend. Instead, try to see how long you can make your clothes last. Focus on taking good care of them - actually read the washing instructions, store them properly, and keep your shoes clean. Instead of throwing clothes out when they get damaged, learn how to mend them instead.
Get Your Clothes Second-Hand
Another way you can fight fast fashion is by making someone else's clothes last longer. Yes, you often get burned out on your wardrobe and want something new. It's still fine to go shopping with your friends but hit up thrift stores instead of the mall. You can also set up clothing swaps with your friends. Have everyone purge their closet, meet up at someone's house with their unwanted clothes, and see what can find a new home. The longer you can keep clothes out of the landfill, the more you're living an ethical and sustainable life. Hopefully, you can start to brag about how you got your clothes second-hand years ago and wear it as a badge of honor.
Finally, the third way you can fight fast fashion is by shopping sustainably whenever you buy new. This can especially be good when you need something you don't like to buy secondhand, like underwear or shoes. Do your research to find an ethical and respectable brand, and be willing to put down a bit more than you normally would. You're getting a higher quality piece that makes the world a better place. Shopping sustainable brands is a great way to build up a capsule wardrobe full of pieces you stand by that will last for years.
Ethical Shoes are Part of Creating a Better Future
Buying products like ethical shoes and clothes can help take down one of the world's biggest causes of pollution. By buying ethically, you're making a statement about the kind of world you want to live in, and the kind of world you want to create. Convinced you need to buy more sustainably? Check out our ethically sourced shoe options.