“As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy” -Emma Watson
I’ve heard so many times that ethically made clothes are too expensive, I just can’t afford them.
Truth is, they are not expensive, they are exactly the price they need to be so that each person in the supply chain is receiving a living wage and/or the toll on the environment is significantly reduced. Ethically made is a drop in the bucket when it comes to the overall traditional marketplace. That drop has to increase dramatically to compete. How do we do that?
Well it starts by breaking the misconception in consumers that ethically made clothing is expensive. Have you ever asked why “un-ethically” made clothing is so cheap? Our consumer behavior is so ingrained in us that it has to be completely broken for a new idea to sink in. My thought is that this behavior stems from a few places.
One is our relationship with a price point. We are used to low prices, sales and deals. How many of us buy things at regular price? We are used to a t-shirt varying in price, from $5 to $50 and so the value of the shirt is impossible to know. Therefore, we find a price point that works for us and make that purchase because we believe that is the value we are willing to give it.
Second is our love of consumption. How many of us have chosen two $20 shirts instead of a $40 one? We give value to quantity not quality and when you do that, you immediately de-value the two $20 shirts. So purchasing them and disposing of them is easier. Would you dispose of the $40 shirt as easily?
Third is our lack of knowledge/complete disregard when it comes to questioning where and who and how our clothing is made. If you knew the item you were buying was causing a negative impact on people and planet vs. a positive one, would you still buy it? The “un-ethical” clothing brands are not going to put their negative impact on their tags; whereas the ethically made clothing brands make it a point to put their positive impacts on their tags. If both were in front of you, which choice would you make? My gut says you’d pick the ethical brand. The more we pick those brands, the more they are able to increase production and bring cost down, while maintaining fair practices. Supply and demand will never change.
If we all thought about consuming less and purchased for quality, our relationship with price wouldn’t be so skewed. It wouldn’t be about expensive or cheap, it would be about the piece of clothing itself and its relationship to you. Our new consumer behavior can change to **buy less and buy well** we just have to let that idea sink in.