The owner of a textile factory in Dhaka threatens a child laborer, who works for 10 hours a day to earn US$1.

I have gotten several questions on where to find handmade clothing or ethically produced clothing.

I have to start by saying that while this is something I have been exploring for a long time, the actual act of mindfully purchasing our clothing is brand new to me.  Because we are trying not to spend ANY money unnecessarily I haven’t bought clothing for anyone in our family for nearly a year. We are now to the point where we’re all needing something or other, so we are carefully considering where and how to purchase our clothing.

Because this is new we have a closet full of haphazardly purchased clothing from anywhere and made of anything. It would be wasteful to simply throw all of these things out so we will replace these items with items that more align with responsible purchasing.

Eventually I would like to be able to make my own clothing from the materials of my choosing. Now that my sewing machine is up and running (as of yesterday), this may become more of a reality in the future.

Because I am not making my own clothing yet, my first inclination is to buy used. I know that some people frown upon this, but it makes sense to me. When we are done using something (clothes, toys, etc.) and we throw it away, it simply piles up. Why not get the most out of all of our consumables before they end up in a dump someday. Repurposing clothing and objects can make them like new and saves a lot on waste. Plus, most used clothing stores actually help employ individuals who may not be able to find work otherwise.

Some things you are not able to find at a second-hand store and must be purchased new. In that case we have much more of a choice in how these items are produced. When we choose items that are made from quality materials and in an ethical way we are sending a message that we won’t tolerate child labor, heavily sprayed textiles or underpaid workers.

A worker in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, rests on the floor of a garment factory.

Here are some priorities I have set for our future clothing purchases:

1). Who am I supporting in making this purchase?

Will this encourage poor treatment of workers in some far off land? Is this money going to some already rich individual who underpays his workers?

Our family’s preference is to support small, preferably local businesses. We especially like to support stay at home mom’s, since I am one and understand how a little extra income can help.

2). Where did it come from?

Was it made in China by a small child too young to be working or perhaps in Taiwan by a mother who isn’t getting paid fairly for her work?

While locally made would be nice, simply knowing where it is made and by whom is the most important. Seeing a tag that says “made in China” doesn’t tell you anything about what conditions it was made under.

3). Are the raw materials sprayed with pesticides?

I have read that cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in our country. Even though I am not eating it, I’m sure it is still harmful for our skin. After all, I like the policy of don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth. In addition to harming those of us who wear the clothing, it also harms the workers and the soil.

Obviously organic is best, but not nearly as important as the above priorities.

4). What is it made of? We prefer natural materials such as cotton, wool, linen and silk.

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Now that I know where our priorities are, I need you to help me find clothing makers who can fulfill those priorities.

  • Do you make clothing yourself?
  • Do you know someone else who does?
  • Have you found a good source for children’s, men’s or women’s clothing?
  • Is there a retailer you have heard good things about and are wanting to try?

Please share with me in the comments and I will put your suggestions together with a few of my own next week. We can then have a list of resources for our clothing purchases.

**The photos above are from an article I ran across when researching this topic. I recommend taking a look.**

photo credit

Thank you all for voting in last week’s poll. I hope y’all know that these polls are for educational purposes – for me. I find it really helpful to ask you questions and bounce ideas off of you. So thank you so much for participating in these weekly polls.

You may have noticed that I put a link to the weekly poll at the top of my sidebar. That is so that not a single one of you will miss helping me out with my questions.

Last Week’s Results

Last week I asked you “How often do you get out of the house in the winter?” Your answers ranged from every day to other (*smile*) 1 day per week. Some of you live in warm climates as well, making your circumstances a bit different than us northerners. We played in the snow yesterday, but didn’t leave the driveway.

  • Every day – I work outside of the home. 31% (8 votes)
  • 3 days per week 27% (7 votes)
  • Every day – I like to get out. 12% (3 votes)
  • 2 days per week 12% (3 votes)
  • 6 days per week 8% (2 votes)
  • 1 day per week 8% (2 votes)
  • Other: 4% (1 votes)

This Week’s Questions

This week I have two questions for you, both about blogging.

My first question is about blog readers (like bloglines, etc.) Just before I moved from blogger to wordpress I discovered blogger’s “following” concept. So I plugged in all of the lovely blogs that I keep up with and found a much simpler blog reading experience. Before that I had tried out bloglines but didn’t seem to like it, so just stuck with keeping bookmarks and checking them everyday or whenever I had time. That took up a lot more time. I find it so much more streamlined now that I am told when someone updates. Using a blog reader saves me lots of time, which is what I need.

For a while I was considering moving my blog back to blogger. Now that I’ve gotten used to the wordpress interface, however, I really like it and think I will stay. So… I have a wordpress blog, but read blogs in blogger. I am looking for something else, something better perhaps (though I do love the setup of blogger’s following). So, dear readers, please tell me how you read your blogs. I just put out a few things I have heard of into the multiple choice answers. Please share something else if it is out there.

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My second question pertains to this blog in particular. I like elements of my blog’s theme, but not all of them. I was looking over my blog on our laptop and thought to myself “This is obnoxiously difficult to read.” Then when I was at the library I went to my blog again. On their fancy big computer screens I didn’t find it nearly as difficult to read. So, be honest, dear readers. (And I am talking aesthetics here, I suppose if you find the content obnoxious we can discuss that another day).

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