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The Curse of Tippecanoe
The Curse of Tippecanoe
February 15, 2024

How to Shop Ethically

Previously Published May 22, 2022
What does it mean for clothing to be ethically sourced/sustainable?
Sustainable fashion refers to clothing that is designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in ways that are environmentally friendly. Ethical fashion, a related term that is also prevalent in the conscious consumerism world, refers to clothing made in ways that value social welfare and workers’ rights. This includes giving workers a living wage, gender equality, safety policies, and the rights to join a union. The fast fashion industry refers to a highly exploitative system wherein business owners manufacture clothing as fast as possible for as cheap as possible. This often leads to abuse of workers, nearly nonexistent wages, and incredibly dangerous environments for employees.
And why is it important to eliminate fast fashion?
Many workers and communities have suffered on account of the destructive nature of fast fashion. Worldwide headlines over the years have broadcasted factory collapses, such as the 2013 Dhaka garment factory fire and collapse, which left nearly 130 dead and 200+ injured. This incident was caused by poor working conditions (the suspect being exposed wires). On top of multiple hazards hosted in the factory, several employees were ignored when addressing their concerns about the safety of the facility. The fire itself started on the ground floor and was able to spread quickly due to the amount of flammable material in the building. Since the fire began on the first of nine floors, many workers attempted to escape via the windows, which resulted in several leaping to their deaths. Although this example is the most publicized, there are far more stories about the victims of fast fashion and other industries characterized by mass-production.
On top of that, fast fashion clothes are meant to be “out of season” within a few months, meaning its consumer will be getting rid of the clothing after only a couple wears. This might be due to the poor manufacturing quality that leads to breakdown of the fabric or the consumer’s dislike of the clothes. As a result, mountains of clothing are being thrown out into landfills, with most of them being shipped back to the country of production. Not only is this a waste of material, it is also a waste of the labor exploited to create this clothing.
Fast fashion is undoubtedly bad for our planet, but it is very hard for us to avoid it completely. We have no idea where and how an article of clothing is produced while we are shopping at the store, but we can plan before our trip to the mall. Below are a few things to keep in mind before and while shopping to mitigate the damage of fast fashion.
  1. Research if the brand produces their product ethically and sustainably. The type of material they source from, their workers’ working conditions, and the emission from production are all criteria to consider. is a good website to start your research.
  2. Ask yourself if you would see yourself wearing this in 3 years or more. If not, it is just an impulsive whim. Clothes are meant to be worn for longer than that. (Unless it’s for a party where you know the outfit will be ruined)
  3. Examine the quality of the clothing. Is the material comfortable on the skin, are the sewings durable, is the tailoring neatly done? Usually clothes that are higher quality are more expensive, but that also means they can last longer, which will be worth the money in the long run. Learning to look out for quality means you avoid wasting money on expensive clothes that are cheaply made.
  4. Thrift! Buy second hand clothes. Just make sure to wash them when you bring them home.
Editors’ Approved Brands:
  • Lucy & Yak: Fun, youthful brand that also caters to plus sizes. Uses high quality cotton and renewable energy to construct their products.
  • Birdsong: A wide range of clothing made from naturally derived fabrics or reclaimed fiber. Ensures a payment of living wages for workers.
  • Brothers We Stand: Transparent production process that uses eco-friendly materials. Includes mostly casual pieces for sustainable everyday wear.
  • “Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Brand Ratings.” Good On You, 16 Jan. 2022,
  • “What Is Sustainable Fashion? (an Introduction and 3 Steps for Getting Started).” GREEN DREAMER, GREEN DREAMER, 30 May 2019,,social%20welfare%20and%20worker%20rights.
  • “2012 Dhaka Garment Factory Fire.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Nov. 2021,,other%20floors%2C%20complicating%20firefighting%20operations.
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About the Contributor
Reagan Baik, Communications Director

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