Being Conscious- The Start
Let me start this post by giving you a brief insight into my journey towards ethical-sustainable fashion and on becoming a more conscious consumer/shopper. When I returned from my trip to India this year and began unpacking- I was horrified (quite literally) at the amount of clothes that lay in front of me! It took me a moment to calm my anxious self down, because I was shocked at the number of clothes I had managed to collect over the years! It now needed some heavy duty sorting.
As I sat there staring at the pile of clothes that filled my wardrobe- I suddenly began feeling guilty and a sense of emptiness started to cast over me and I realized- these clothes were in no way making me happy. That moment I decided to put an end to this destructive ‘impulse buy‘ behavior! For years we’ve all exhibited this pattern and collected piles of clothes that don’t last us more than 7-8 washes. Yes, that’s right- for years we’ve invested our money into products that’ve been giving us zero returns and only added more misery to the ongoing environmental crisis.
A lot of what we buy now is known as ‘Fast Fashion’, clothing that is manufactured quickly to satisfy the demand of consumers that take upon fleeting fashion trends every season-every year. Fast Fashion is ridiculously cheap- making it the most lucrative and sought after option in the market. Studies state Americans spend more money on eating out in the restaurants every year than they do on clothes. So technically, it’s not like consumers cannot afford to choose a slightly more expensive ethical clothing item over a cheaply made $1 top- it’s just that they don’t think clothes are worth the thought or that price!
Please remember with every purchase of yours, you’re voting for that fabric, that brand and WE are responsible for our addiction to cheaply made clothes. In a way it is because of us that there are companies that continue exploiting workers, because we continue to pay for their inferior quality product!
Clothes that are made and sold today are way cheaper than it was 20 years ago, but they’re so cheaply made that the brand’s expect an average lifespan of 2 months for a woman’s top. But who cares when the top costs only $5? What a deal, right? With the price being this low, you can be sure that – the number of people involved in making that top were not being paid minimum wage.
If we look at the environmental impact of fashion industries, then one would understand that our clothes contain more chemicals than our foods- and we wear our clothes for more time than we spend on eating! There are hazardous chemicals and pesticides used to produce cotton every year. Studies state, the clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world, second only to oil. While it may be impossible to assess whether or not it is the second largest polluter, what is certain is that fashion carbon footprint is tremendous.
While we know that there is a long way to changing the whole fashion industry scenario to a more cleaner one, what we as consumers can do is exercise our right of choice by buying from ethical and sustainable brands. By giving a little thought to why, what and where (are we buying) – before we go ahead and swipe our credit cards.
Burst that Bubble
When I moved to the US a couple of years ago, what fascinated me the most was the shopping-fashion scene and the amazing deals that made their way at every sale season! Obviously at the time I barely even knew that there existed a concept called ethical-sustainable fashion. I clearly remember- my first sale shopping escapade was a big success and I came out of the mall gleefully smiling carrying my overflowing shopping bags. One of the items I was super happy & proud about was a cozy thick grey sweater that I’d managed to snag at just $3!
Yes, that’s how much it costed and back then I could care less about the depressing reality hidden behind that price tag. The same night I made a phone call to my brother back in India (he’s 5 years younger to me but way smarter) and excitedly told him about the sweater that costed me just three bucks! Surprisingly he didn’t seem too excited about it, he said “Do you realize why it’s so cheap? It was probably made by some kid in Bangladesh, China or India, there’s really nothing to be so excited about.”
I regret not taking that sentence a little more seriously that day- I really wish I had. Because fast fashion isn’t free- if you’re not, then someone somewhere is definitely paying for it!
But when it finally dawned upon me this year, the realization went on to have a huge impact in my life. I began researching thoroughly about the problems in the clothing industry (social and environmental) and also in other areas of global production. The issues seemed enormous and some facts put me to shame for being so ignorant for such a long time, but a start is necessary so I decided take small steps towards becoming an ethical shopper.
We continue to choose to live in our own man made bubble that has no room for realistic analogies or newer perceptions. So here, let me burst that bubble for you, because someone HAS to do it before it’s too late!
Why am I telling you all this?
What I’ve come to realize is that most people who choose to wear and buy fast fashion are most times NOT AWARE of the reality behind the ridiculously low priced items- I definitely was one of them and exactly why an informative app like GOOD ON YOU can bring about a positive change in your fashion journey.
One of the many questions that popped in my mind when I switched to responsible fashion window was-
Where to shop for ethical clothing and accessories?
What brands are ethical/sustainable, that employ fair trade practices and have transparent supply chain disclosures?
If you’re someone like me who has recently discovered the world of ethical-sustainable consumption and want to explore/read more about it then GOOD ON YOU has you covered. The app is not only hands on with interesting information on ethical fashion, but it also helps you make the right buying decisions by listing down various ethical brands to shop from based on their ratings.
About GOOD ON YOU-
Established in 2013 by Ethical Consumers Australia, a non-profit organization. They’re a commercial business that is driven by a social mission- to create a world where consumer choices drive business to be sustainable and fair.
They believe that our shopping choices have a huge impact on how businesses treat people, the planet and animals. So, they created GOOD ON YOU app, to make it easy for anyone, anywhere , to shop their values.
Read more about the team behind this brilliant app here.
Why is GOOD ON YOU important?
The team at Good On You, believe that it’s hard for people to make purchasing choices. There are number of brands claiming to offer a thousand things and there simply isn’t time for most people to do a detailed analysis or research on their purchases.
They understand that people care about working conditions, animal welfare and the environment, and are focused on drastically reducing the effort for people’s shopping needs to reflect their values.
In today’s world, very few people view Ethical shopping as a mass activity over a niche one. The Good On You app is focused on changing that, by offering all the information at your finger tips and encouraging millions of consumers around the globe to make the right choice.
Their Ethical brand ratings-
- Good On You is a rating app that brings forth more than 1000 brands to choose from based on their ratings and offerings. They believe brands should be transparent and as a consumer, you have a right to know!
- The issues they consider while rating a brand- people, planet and animals.
- People- They look at the policies, practices on child labour, forced labour, worker safety, freedom of association and payment of living wage.
- Planet- They take in consideration each brand’s resource use and disposal, energy use and carbon emissions, impacts on water and chemical use and disposal.
- Animals- They identify use of fur, angora, down feather, shearing, and exotic animal skin and hair.
- The ratings are built after taking into account information from more than 50 certifications schemes, standards systems and independent ratings method that are available for use by brands.
- Their ratings range from 1 -AVOID to 5- GREAT, so it becomes easier for us as consumers to decide whether or not to buy from those brands.
Read more on the detailed rating process here.
Features & How to Use-
- Good on you is offered internationally for both iOS & Android. You can download it from your app store and start exploring your favorite brands and also find new ones suggested by the app.
- You can search for your favorite brand (ethical or not) in the search bar and see how they’re rated.
- There is also a preference section to choose what factors (planet, people or animals) that are of utmost importance to you, based on which the app searches the perfect ethical brand to match your values.
- My most loved feature- when you feed in your favorite fast fashion brand in the search bar, apart from the ratings and other information the app also suggests alternative ethical brands that manufacture similar styles. Isn’t that cool? So, if you’re a basic person and search for GAP or OLD NAVY- the app automatically suggests 3-4 ethical options(Ex- PACT ) that carry similar styles.
- Along with the ratings, the app also states how affordable the brand is by the dollar sign mentioned under it’s name ranging from $-$$$. Doesn’t this feature make things so much more simpler?
- To make things even easier, you can browse and search for brands based on categories like bags, belts, dresses, eyewear, jackets etc.
- If you’re new to the world of ethical fashion, the app carries some brilliant articles and raises some very important questions. Ex- How ethical is Forever 21, Zara, Gap etc? Informative posts like- The best ethical and sustainable active wear; Natural, traditional Dyes from around the world and many more.
- They also have a ‘offers’ section that carries information about ongoing discounts, offers and deals on any of the featured ethical brands.
- If you love a few brands and want to make a list, you can favorite them and they’ll be automatically saved under favorites on the app.
- You can also send a message to your favorite brand(s), thanking and appreciating their work or even send them some constructive feedback.
Doesn’t the app sound really interesting? I’m sure you’re going to love it as much as I did or even more! Download yours here.
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, thanks for stopping by.
Happy responsible shopping! 🙂
Photography: Nikhil Adke
This post has been written in collaboration with Good On You. All opinions here, however, are honest and my own.