Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Walking the Walk: Ethics/Values in Shopping

I have on numerous occasions mentioned my desire to buy more locally (which extends to the continent) made items, especially when it comes to clothing.  I've spoken to my fashion writing students about the cost of fast fashion - in terms of the value of labour, the carbon footprint, the inevitable waste.

So there I was last night, perusing the clearance section on REI, when I saw this:

 It's a cycling shirt that has reflective threads woven into the plaid (in the men's description they included an image of it illuminated, as it were).  It's a bargain at less than $40, or at least that's what I initially thought.  However, I was bothered by the fact that it was "imported," which if it doesn't mean China or southeast Asia, it usually means Central America.*  Whatever the country of origin, it wasn't the US or Canada.  Could I buy it because it was a bargain, a bike shirt, and cute to boot?  Did cycling gear override country of origin/ethical manufacturing practices?  Did it override my desire to keep employment for the population of my two countries?  What about my wardrobe pruning?!

I remembered that Betabrand has a similar shirt (although it doesn't have the zippered pocket in the back - hint, hint), and it's made in the US (San Francisco to be exact). 

In the same way I can afford to buy books at a local bookstore instead of on Amazon, I can spend more money to buy an item that is in line with my ethics and values.  Frankly, I think I'd pony up an extra ten dollars to get the dress (let's call it a tunic) version:

But I don't need it right now; I can wait.  I know it's available and who knows, maybe it'll go on even deeper discount.  I still like to save money, but I also need to know that I'm willing to walk the walk.

*Note:  The LL.Bean two-layer union suit, which says it's an imported product, is made in Canada; I learned that by reading the reviews.  I own that union suit, and it's awesome.

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