I thought I was doing really well. I’ve been good about eating super healthy (still mainly gluten free and all vegan) and shopping at local shops for food. I’m trying to learn how to meditate and incorporate more yoga throughout the week. Matt and I have cut down our T.V. watching and actually sit around the table for dinner and talk. We eat sprouted mung beans and organic carrots when we can afford it. I was feeling all very back-patty…
I got this comment from some anonymous person in the previous post (Weekend Wear for Cold Climates):
Just a little link that I originally ignored because I thought it was spam (ahem, Anonymous) and because I didn’t want to read about child labor and slums (such a downer for a Saturday night — feel free to cringe). I assume Anonymous linked it because I mentioned I got my Regata Gala sweatshirt from Primark.
For those of you stateside, Primark is like H&M and Target had a baby and then sold that baby for cheaper than Walmart prices. When Matt and I first wandered into Primark here in Edinburgh, our eyes lit up. We could actually afford fun, frivolous things again. What with traveling and trying to save for the future — again more back-patty action — we/I can’t really afford trips to Top Shop and Zara (£40/$63 for a blouse, no thank you!). At Primark we can buy fuzzy hot water bottles, armloads of clothes, cute necklaces, socks, scarves, pillows and belts for only £40. Heaven!
Now at the back of my mind I did have that niggly sensation (aka guilty conscience) because I knew if I was buying a necklace for £1, someone on the other end wasn’t making very much money. I’ve had the niggles when shopping at other places (Forever 21, H&M, Target, Walmart, etc.), but the sensation is never so great that I couldn’t tamp it down with… buying more cute stuff! For instance, this weekend Matt and I needed a pick-me up and we decided to just have a looksee at Primark. You can see what I bought here:
See that expression smiley with a twinge of guilt: Tank and hair feathers from Primark • Skinnies from Madewell (now I’m questioning you too, Madwell! Read here about their social responsibility) • Hunter Boots (how do you treat your rubber workers, Hunter? The only info I could find was that all Hunters used to be made in Scotland, originally Edinburgh –woohoo!– but they had to move shop overseas in 2008 due to financial pressure — bummer).
Two out of three ethically-made pieces here! June Shin necklace (jeweler based out of Atlanta, Georgia) • Snoozer Loser quarter-holder necklace (independent online boutique based out of New York) • Primark feather hair thingie (errr….)
I went to upload these photos into an AsianCajun post about Edinburgh and springtime (it would have been a lot less wordy — sorry!), and that’s when I saw Anonymous’ link. Niggly turned into full on face-punch. Dang it! So I did a bit of (internet) research. It is true that since 2008, Primark has tried to stop child labor at their supplier’s factories in Bangladesh and India. But since then, very little has been done to change the terrible circumstances of a vast number of people working in the garment industry — all so I can buy a cute tank for £2.
I know other retailers are culpable, and probably the best bet for not buying something that supports subsistent living conditions for thousands is by visiting your local charity shop and thrift stores. For staples like tees and good fitting jeans and work clothes, I’m going to find companies that have invested in fair trade principles.
How about you? Do you guys have any great tips on where to shop (and not spend an arm and a leg) on ethically made clothing? Do you even care about this or does it just make you tired — another thing to do better! (I know that’s how I feel, but I really will attempt to adjust my shopping habits). Do leave comments about this! I’d love to hear tips on how to be a more conscientious consumer and if you guys struggle with this too.
Eeesh! That’s a lot for a Monday isn’t it? How ’bout some pretty crocuses to leave you feeling happy after all that serious talk:
p.s. I know this issue is much bigger and more complex than I covered in this single blog post. Please feel free to just add to the conversation in the comments below. I’ve been reading War of Want’s Love Fashion Hate Sweatshop campaign, and they suggest that you shouldn’t boycott your favorite high street stores because that means loss of jobs for those on the other end (already making too little to live on). Instead, they suggest you campaign for workers’ rights. Read more about how to do that here.
Sorry to be so wordy lately! I really did just want to write a post about springtime in Edinburgh, and just couldn’t!
I’m looking up some good places in the UK to shop that won’t leave me with a guilty conscience. I feel like Decatur has so many great places: Mingei, Evolve Boutique, Green Mosaics, etc. I need to find the Edinburgh equivalents!
Love and Happy Monday!