My office at Columbia College last year was one building over from Reverend Roy’s. He mentioned he was trying to be more intentional about where his stuff came from, particularly clothes. I thought, “Cool. Yeah-I want to learn how to better do that.” A few days later I walked into Reverend Roy’s office, yellow pad and pen in hand, ready to jot down everywhere I could shop and feel okay about it. Major fail. Basically Rev Roy gave me the name of an ethical college sweatshirt company (http://altagraciaapparel.com/) and said he was going to try making his own clothes. Then we just talked a lot about illegal immigration.
I walked out of his office with a slightly adjusted view of illegal immigrants and catastrophic visions of only wearing ethically made college sweatshirts and homemade socks for the rest of my life. Sewing=nauseating. And how do you know that the fabric is made in a way that takes care of people and the earth? Maybe I can used recycled fabric or something that others view as a waste product…such as the burlap sacks at Long Horn Steakhouse that the peanuts come in. (Yeah–I could ask them for their burlap and swear off ever having friends that are allergic to peanuts.)
Instead I just haven’t really bought any clothes in a while….and I haven’t even NEEDED to! Crazy. I did buy a dress at Ross Dress for Less in December for a Christmas cruise with my family. On the ship I regretted the purchase because I had old dresses that worked just fine. Deciding to return the dress, I remembered I’d ripped the tag off while packing, knowing the future me would be tempted to take it back.
Unfortunately it takes a lot of digging around to find out where our stuff actually comes from, but I think the research would be worth it.
*I definitely just pulled this partial post out of my Gmail drafts from January. I actually saw Reverand Roy briefly when I was in Columbia for a few days pre-China. I asked him how the ethical clothes purchasing was going. His wife made his daughters a few dresses and sewed him some pajamas. Doesn’t sound like great progress, but hey—You could solely live in your pajamas in China. People here wear matching pajama pants and tops at the store, on the street, on the metro, everywhere! I don’t get it. I get stared down most intently when I wear workout clothes on the metro. What are you staring at?? You’re wearing pajamas!!! Also, I have a confession: A few weeks ago I bought a Longchamp bag, a Tory Burch bag, Tory Burch flats (all real I’m sure), Diesel tennis shoes, The Hobbit DVD, and a Lincoln DVD ALL for $54 USD at the fake market! (What copyright laws?). I don’t know how you know where your stuff actually comes from….especially in a city like Shanghai.