Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability

SUSTAINABLE STYLE & ETHICAL LIVING

Beyond Meatless Monday

climate change and meat consumption
This post was written in partnership with Numi Organic Tea.

If you spend as much time in the Wellness space as I do, you probably know about the concept of Meatless Monday. You may not know, however, that Meatless Monday did not arise from a grassroots desire to reduce meat consumption for health and ecological reasons. Rather, it was founded in 2003 by a man named Sid Lerner in partnership with the John Hopkins' School of Public Health. Initially, it was conceived of as a health initiative - researchers found that individual Americans were eating up to 75 more pounds of meat than previous generations, leading to a slew of health problems - but as its expanded in popular culture, it took on a life of its own.

Over the last few years, I've taken on a Meatless Monday-type challenge of my own, but my reasons are rooted in climate change concerns and ecological sustainability.

Here's the deal: 

  • The global livestock sector contributes to 18% of total carbon emissions.
  • Cattle, sheep, and goats graze on 25% of the global land surface and 70% of agricultural land. 
  • Increased demand for meat, and particularly of beef, requires unsustainable levels of deforestation, as well as land degradation.
  • In addition to grazing land, animals require feed. It is estimated that feed crops make up 34% of total cropland. 

One of the primary ecosystems affected by increased demand for beef is the Amazon Rainforest. In the last 40 years, almost 20% of the rain forest has been cut down due to a mixture of logging, soybean farming, and livestock grazing. 

The data is compelling, but for me, it's more than that. I'm a child of the '90s and early '00s. I grew up with Animal Planet, Captain Planet, and nature documentaries galore. Thinking of the lush green forests I came to love through my TV screen being destroyed brings a visceral response.

And when you add climate change to the mix, it feels like a no-brainer to significantly decrease, or even do away with, meat consumption. Scientists estimate that reducing meat consumption could slash total greenhouse gas emissions in half each year.

The data is clear: we must collectively reduce our meat consumption if we want to keep global warming within manageable levels.

climate change and meat consumption

But where to start?

I grew up in a typical middle class, American family, taking lunch meat sandwiches with me to school and eating pork chops, meat loaf, or rotisserie chicken for dinner each night. Meat was very much a part of my life. 

Over the last couple of years, I decided to reduce my meat consumption by never preparing meat at home. Since I live in a small-ish town (it's not a part of the culture to order take-out every night) on a budget of about the same size, this has proven to be a great way to get comfortable with vegetarianism. I developed staple meals, like red beans and rice and potato soup, that are economical and easy to customize - add mushrooms here, add spice there - and stick to what's in my pantry and refrigerator. If there's no meat around, you can't eat it!

But this year, I want to commit to go a step further. I've been taking part in a fellow blogger Faye Lessler's Veggie Challenge this month as a way to bounce recipe ideas off of others and push toward better accountability.

It's become clear to me that if I aim to make responsible lifestyle choices, I can't build walls around when the rules I've set for myself are in play. Admittedly, I've struggled to choose vegetarian meals when eating out. I crave meat for its meatiness; it's not just a matter of convenience or peer pressure. 

But choosing to carefully assess my choices in this way, and in public, among my friends, has been a great way to start conversations around environmental stewardship and personal responsibility. At the end of the month, I may not have perfected the vegetarian lifestyle, but I'd like to think I've spread the word about going meatless, at least occasionally, in an effort to help our global ecosystems thrive. 

If you've ever visited a state or national park, you've likely seen this slogan plastered on bulletin boards or trail signs: 

"Take only pictures. Leave only footprints."

I'd like to think I'm helping create a foodie culture that can say the same for itself. Will you join me?

What the Women's March Taught Me

What the Women's March Taught Me

Before I went to the Women's March, I have to admit I was scared. 


I did not grow up in an activist home. I grew up in a "hunker-down" home with monthly fire safety talks. I knew where the hand gun was and how to use it if an intruder threatened my life.

I grew up in a home where the doors were always locked.

This was not all paranoia. Someone did break into my house when I was 12. Fortunately, my mother was at the grocery store that morning and they left the family cat alone (we found her smelling roses in our back yard). But the man who entered our house and stole my $5 allowance, family videos, and the hand gun took more than our possessions. He took my sense of childhood security. I was afraid of shadows and noises outside my window for months, often choosing my parents' floor over my bed. For awhile, I was convinced someone was trying to get in my room, but we eventually found out it was an armadillo who'd made his home in the bushes by the side of the house. I was so thankful for that guardian armadillo, offering some semblance of security.

I mention all of this to give you a sense of how brave I am (hint: not at all). 


My dad messaged me in the days leading up to the march concerned about rioting and arrests. He told me to bring my pepper spray and take care of myself. I steeled myself for the worst case scenario.

But then I arrived to a sea of pink cat hats at the Metro, women handing out Kind bars for sustenance and offering up extra hats to bring back to our loved ones who couldn't march. The atmosphere was celebratory and open-armed. Like a reunion, or a town festival.

Several stops into our train ride, one of the doors got stuck and we were forced - several hundred of us - to exit the Metro train and stand on the already-full platform. We couldn't get back on the now-full trains, so we exited the station and pondered next steps. While waiting, we saw cat hat-bedazzled women on city bike shares, breezing through the quiet morning streets and stopping to talk to other marchers at crosswalks. We eventually settled on an overpriced Uber and got the march site. Cheers, signs, laughter. Pink hats everywhere.

One sign read: The last time I marched there was a wall in Berlin.

Friendly march volunteers directed us to jumbotrons as an Indigenous woman began singing a haunting piece, mostly unaccompanied, that sounded to my ears like a new, more inclusive, national anthem.

By 10:30, we could no longer see the road we'd walked in on. The crowds were too dense. We stood behind a mom and her daughter and next to a group of young guys who'd driven over from Nashville, excited to learn.

By 11:00, we were packed like sardines. You couldn't move without bumping into someone. Incredibly, no one was bothered by this. The counter protesters (the kind wearing "Jesus loves you" sweatshirts and carrying "You're going to hell" posters) got ahold of a megaphone and started chanting something barely discernible. Nearby marchers countered, calmly and exuberantly, with "Love trumps hate."

I am so badly trying to find a way to describe for you the serene, utopian calm that washed over me as I stood there among hundreds of thousands of strangers. The paradox of feeling safer here than anywhere else at any other time. At some point in the day, I tried to sum it up for myself and this is what echoed through my head:

I saw a glimpse of paradise today. 


I felt God. I felt peace on earth. A long awaited glimpse of the world, perfected. All the prophecies come true.

It wasn't about the specifics of what was said. It wasn't about righteous anger. It wasn't about protest. It was about being present with people on a day that we'd collectively determined we would be our best selves.

I am not naive. I know there were people there who in their regular lives are grumpy, un-self aware, even narcissistic, but we were, maybe for the first time, trying - and succeeding at - practicing what we preach.

The Women's March showed me what we're all fighting for, after all.

We're fighting for a world where people are free to be their best selves. 


Where we can put our guards down, knit each other hats, listen to radical ideas without getting defensive, and understand that we are all welcome at the table.

As a scared white woman, I am grateful for being brought into ongoing conversations on immigration, religious freedom, Black lives, and Indigenous rights. I am grateful that I could listen and learn from people I don't have the opportunity to bump up against in my everyday life.

I am grateful that the voices that told me that I would be unsafe were proven wrong.

There is work to do. 


An endless amount of work to do. We can never stop working. I realize that now, that I've been letting "good enough" serve as my activism for the bulk of my adult life. I've been hiding behind words and my computer screen.

But the community of the Women's March not only inspired hope in me to press on, it reminded me that strong communities change the world. I am excited to get started writing letters, making phone calls, and paying attention with my fellow Charlottesvillians.

I am ready now.

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Here are some resources and articles that helped me get a grip this emotional rollercoaster of a week:

The Moral Wardrobe: Love Justly Kimono Jacket

love justly fair trade kimono jacket
This post was sponsored by Love Justly and I received an item for review. I have an ongoing partnership with Love Justly, so stay tuned for more.

When I was a teenager, someone told me I dressed like a "middle school art teacher." At the shop where I work, people ask me if I'm an artist because I dress like one. I don't know if that's supposed to be a compliment, but I always take it as one. I wouldn't say I'm an artist in the traditional sense, but I do like putting together outfits. Curation and color sense are components of art, right?

Regardless of where I fit into the "artist" spectrum, I certainly do appreciate art in many forms. It's safe to say that half the reason I'm intrigued by the fair trade movement is because it puts art and artisanship front and center.
  love justly fair trade kimono jacketlove justly fair trade kimono jacket

This kimono-inspired piece by Symbology, for instance, was block printed using traditional techniques in Rajasthan, India. Symbology pays a living wage to their employees in India and the West Bank with the specific goal of preserving traditional craftsmanship while making modern, wearable silhouettes.

I like the soft, flowing cotton rayon and the sheen of the peacock feathers. It makes an all black, Steve Jobs-appropriate outfit turn into something that maybe an awesome middle school art teacher would wear!
  love justly fair trade kimono jacket
Ethical Details: Kimono Jacket - c/o Love Justly; Sweater, Boots, and Jeans - thrifted; Turtleneck - Everlane

Since Love Justly partners with ethical brands to offer discounts on past-season and overstock products, you can snag the Symbology Kimono Jacket in a number of colors for $38.49. One of the best features of the site is that you can shop by brand, so if you really like the look of a particular product, you can see similar items quite easily and learn some background about the company while you're at it. 

Brand awareness has been so important for me when trying to shop ethically, so I appreciate that Love Justly offers itself as a resource for discovering brands. Even though it's an outlet site, it doesn't try to disguise labels, which means if you really like the look of something, you can scope out this season's offerings easily.

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Shop Love Justly


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13 Ethical Bras That Put Everyday Comfort First

12 Ethical Fair Trade Bras That Put Comfort First
It's hard to find an ethical bra that in any way resembles the lightly padded, underwire bras most women are used to wearing on a regular basis. As much as I love the aesthetic and ideal of a simple, unlined bra, I feel more comfortable with a small amount of padding, particularly under thin t-shirts.

I have long had the intention of creating an Ethical Bra Guide, but to be honest with you, I couldn't find a good, everyday bra for my A cup and it seemed disingenuous to share when I hadn't even found something to suit me.

That changed once I discovered Patagonia's Barely Bra, so today I'm doing my best to share ethically produced bras in several styles for a range of body types and sizes. My apologies if you notice a gap in sizing or comfortable options for larger bust sizes. My experience as an A cup is all I know. Please do feel free to make suggestions in the comments!

This list contains a few affiliate links.

Unlined:

If I'm wearing a sweater or a fancy dress, an unlined bra with a deep V does the trick. The Aria bra was made fairly by a woman named Alba Betancur using upcycled and eco-friendly fabrics.

Svala Vivien Lace Bra, $65

Made in the USA from recycled, remnant lace.

Larkspur Luella Longline Bra, $57

I reviewed this piece a couple years ago and really like it as loungewear bra. Good under thicker tops like sweaters, too.

Lightly Padded:

Patagonia Barely Bra, $45

This is my go-to style. At my cup size, I don't really benefit from underwire, not to mention that the structure was beginning to cause chest discomfort. The Barely Bra is made of recycled polyester and spandex with removable padding.

Prana Dreaming Bra, $35.40 (on sale)

Made fairly with recycled polyester, the Dreaming bra features an intricate strap detail with removable padding.

Prana Soleil Bra, $49

More of a workout or lounge piece, the Soleil bra is made a nylon/spandex blend with removable padding.

Boody Ecowear Padded Shaper Bra, $19.95

A simple, bamboo rayon bra with removable padding, this one's a contender for my favorite style.

12 Ethical Fair Trade Bras That Put Comfort First Push-Up:

Naja Helena Push Up Bra, $52

If you like to add a little oomph, the Helena Bra will do the trick. This style is currently available in B to DD cups only.

Underwire:

12 Ethical Fair Trade Bras That Put Comfort FirstCoco Caramel Bronze Silk Bra via Azura Bay, $105.51 USD ($139 CAD)

Feminine and structured, this bra was handmade in London using upcycled fabrics.

Naja Steffi Bustier, $85

With a caged band detail and removable straps, the Steffi bra was made fairly.

Sports:

Threads 4 Thought Kala Sports Bra, $42

Made from recycled polyester and spandex, this bra features an inspiring message, "Be the change," on the bottom band.

Synergy Organic Clothing Native Summer Yoga Bra, $21 (on sale)

12 Ethical Fair Trade Bras That Put Comfort FirstA lightweight bra for low impact activity, this piece was made fairly with GOTS certified organic cotton.

Patagonia Active Compression Bra, $55

In a recycled nylon blend, this bra is more supportive and contains odor control properties.




P.S. I'm collecting thoughts and stories on the Women's March. I'll share as soon as I can. 

Inward and Outward: A Pre-Inauguration Reflection


I wrote this piece for the Numi Organic Tea blog as a Resolutions Post, but I thought it was appropriate to post here, on the eve of the Inauguration. Though it's always been important to be vigilant protectors and defenders of justice, the rate at which things could take a turn for the worse feel overwhelming. This post represents my first step, but the work isn't done.

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As I sit here staring at this bright, blank page before me, I consider what it looks like to start fresh.

In life, we don't often get a blank page to work from - we all have baggage and commitments from our past that we carry forward - but I think it's right to get ourselves in a head space that allows us to imagine new and better lives for ourselves, and for the world.

As author Barbara Kingsolver once said, "Hope is a moral imperative." At the start of a new year, we collectively determine to hope so that we can make progress.

Too often, though, the resolutions we make feel like a collection of chores predetermined for us by the masses. Eat well, exercise, go to bed on time. While all of these may be admirable, for me they just aren't meaty enough to propel me forward. This year, I want more.

My hope for 2017 and beyond  is that I develop the kind of habits that lead to seeing the world through the eyes of kindness and justice. 


When I started writing on justice issues, my particular focus was on making more ethical purchases. That meant avoiding sweatshop labor and prioritizing sustainable raw materials sourcing. Simple enough, right?

But the Catch-22 of thinking about and working toward justice is that everything is interconnected.

Depressed wages in developing nations are a direct result of political and economic decisions enacted by domestic and foreign governments. The fact that demand still exists for low wage jobs is due, in part, to cataclysmic social shifts that force people out of now unsustainable agrarian lifestyles and into the cities. At each step in the supply chain, someone has been asked to cut costs even when there's nothing left to cut. It's an impossible race to the bottom. There are no winners.

Demanding fair wages is just a start. It won't fix broken systems.

I mention all this because it serves as a microcosm of the broader problem of having a pet issue without considering the big picture. But the big picture can be totally overwhelming. It can overload us to the point of shutting us down. What's the solution?

Put another way: How do I learn to see big problems in their even larger context and respond effectively and compassionately, without total overwhelm?

I believe the first step forward comes from within.

There are relatively immediate, physical lifestyle changes I can make in my life that will have a positive effect on the world. I can shop and eat sustainably and responsibly, for instance. But for long term change, you need buy in, and you only get there when you've changed your point of view, when you see the world through new eyes.

To that end, my resolutions for global change are deeply intertwined with the small, daily tasks of just being in the world. The key is being in a way that shapes you into the person that can effectively bring about long term progress. 

1. Practice humility. 


The first step is admitting that I don't have the complete picture, and maybe I never will. To be clear, I can learn from and trust my own interactions, but I can't necessarily make drastic conclusions based on my highly individualized experiences.

To cultivate humility, I will seek out communities that challenge what I think I know without dismissing me. My workplace is a dynamic and diverse environment, so I will start there, working to have productive conversations on politics and ethics around the lunch table.

2. Think local. 


The concept of social justice didn't really click for me until I joined a local community organizing group. When you work with people you live near, you already know what's at stake for your community. That relative intimacy helps you work through personal issues to find solutions. It reminds you that people - including yourself - are deeply flawed, but that imperfection is not a barrier to doing good.

To cultivate local engagement, I will stay in touch with people working toward systemic change in my own community.

3. Cultivate intention.


I manage a retail space, so on any given week, my life bumps up against the lives of at least a hundred people, from volunteers to staff to customers. I've realized over the last few years that each time I make eye contact with someone, I have a responsibility. I can make someone's day better or not affect it at all (hopefully, I never make it worse). I choose to do what I can to make it better. My shop recently committed to "see our customers as the unique people they are, and celebrate it." Imagine what a difference that could make if we clearly and intentionally projected that ideal. Imagine the hope.

To cultivate intention, I will consider the way I interact with every single person I come into contact with and do my best to celebrate them for who they are, and who they can be.

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I want hope to become habit. 


And the only way to get there is to, slowly but surely, let my heart be changed. I know it won't be easy, but it's worth it for global change.

How to Prepare for the Women's March on Washington

Women's March Preparation and Resources
"Hear Our Voice" by Liza Donovan - Download here.

I'm attending the Women's March!

#WhyIMarch

Over the last several months, I've spent a lot of time stewing over the best way to make a difference in a country that has been and remains a threatening and degrading space for thousands of people. While local and state activism, including making phone calls to representatives, is vital, what's become apparent to me is that most of the policies we promote on both sides of the political spectrum have a glaring tendency toward embracing the "good enough" short term fixes instead of long term solutions.

Defending policies like the ACA matters, but putting pressure on politicians only goes so far. For long term change, we need to mobilize and befriend.

On a personal scale, I've been trying to cultivate attentiveness and intention, reaching out to friends, coworkers, and customers who seem like they need someone to talk to, or just need a compliment or a reminder that they matter to someone.

I believe the Women's March can serve as a large scale version of this frame of mind. For me, it's less about what policy change happens as a direct result of the march and more about showing solidarity. It's about being in one place with the women and men I admire, from priests to bloggers to old friends.


There's power in community, as I've learned from participating in a healthy church, and you don't have to be completely unified to stand together.


I am marching because women, and particularly women of color, still need feminism. I am marching because strong women and men in my life are going, and they are showing me that it's good to overcome fear and make a move. I am marching because my friend from middle school who grew up under the same patriarchal structure as me is going, and there's something beautiful and full circle about marching next to her.

I march because I believe that it matters to look into the faces of strangers of all ages, people who do and do not look like me, and say together that we will keep moving forward.

Getting Prepared

This is only the second march I've ever attended, and the only one with real security requirements, so I've been reading up as much as I can on how I can best prepare for the day.

In terms of security, the Women's March outlines what you can and cannot bring. I've copied the full text below (read more FAQs here).

All backpacks and bags may be subject to search at the March, and those not conforming to the standards set here may be confiscated or asked to be left behind. Backpacks are not permitted unless they are clear and no larger than 17"x12"x6" (colored transparent bags are not permitted).

  • Bags/totes/purses for small personal items should be no larger than 8”x6”x4”.  
  • Specifically for people who would like to bring meals, each marcher is permitted one additional 12”x12”x6” plastic or gallon bag.  
  • For marchers who have medical needs or for mothers who need baby bags or breast pumps, please ensure that your supplies fit into the above clear backpack. You can have one backpack per individual in your group, as long as they abide by the above guidelines.
  • If you are a member of the press, covering the event officially, and have equipment that will not fit into bags of the above dimensions: please contact the National Communications Team to get press credentials in advance in order for your equipment to be allowed into the rally site.
  • If you require disability accommodations or related equipment, that will not fit into the above bags, please enter via the ADA Accessible route: 4th St. SW from C St. to Independence Ave.  For anyone using Metro, please get off at Federal Center SW and use 4th St. to enter the rally area.
  • Canes, walking sticks, walkers, and portable seats are allowed for individuals who require them for mobility and accessibility on a regular basis.
  • Do not bring anything that can be construed as a weapon, including signage with any kind of handle (e.g. a sharpened wooden stick). We recommend also checking with your bus company if your bus will be secured during the march and if you can leave larger belongings in the bus, rather than carrying them all day.

Note that you are not permitted to bring large handbags or backpacks. Additional Inauguration Week security requirements restrict metal containers (like Klean Kanteen water bottles).

The March organizers also recommend checking the forecast frequently throughout the week and preparing for very cold weather. It may rain, so make sure shoes and coats are water proof, and wear comfortable shoes.

Here are some suggestions for what to bring from Detroit Free Press:

  • Thermal underwear beneath your clothes
  • Winter gear such as a scarf, gloves, balaclava and hat
  •  A coat that is insulated comfortable and waterproof with a hood 
  • Waterproof shoes or boots that have been broken in and are suitable for walking long distances. 
  • Travel-sized wet wipes and/or tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A paper map of Washington, D.C.

An official Inauguration Security list can be found here. One can assume Women's March security will be nearly identical.

Know Your Rights

Read up on your rights on the ACLU website.

Other Resources:


Due to some circulation issues I have in my extremities, if the forecast takes a turn toward incredibly cold, I will likely attend Charlottesville's sister event instead. 

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Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments.

Also, let me know if you're going!!

Love Justly Offers Ethical Fashion at Unbeatable Prices

Love Justly Discount Ethical Clothing and Accessories Love Justly Discount Ethical Clothing and Accessories
This post was sponsored by Love Justly and I received an item for review. I'll be partnering with Love Justly on a few more posts, so stay tuned.

One of the biggest challenges of overhauling my lifestyle to make more ethical purchases was the higher price point of fair trade goods. Of course I wanted the makers to be paid fairly and work in safe buildings. Of course I wanted more transparency and a focus on sustainable textiles and processes. But I was a couple years out of college, working as a barista making $9.00 an hour, and married to a grad student husband. His meager stipend and my part time job hardly paid the rent and grocery bills!

How can you ensure that producers flourish when you're not exactly flourishing yourself?


At the time, my best option was to thrift and shop clearance sales at ethical retailers. But there weren't that many ethical fashion brands offering regular discounts, which makes sense because most of these companies were cutting their own profit margins to be able to provide living wages to their employees. 

Now, there's another option...

Love Justly Discount Ethical Clothing and Accessories Love Justly Discount Ethical Clothing and Accessories

Introducing Love Justly...


Jenny Foust, founder of Love Justly, didn't always plan to open an ethical boutique, but after searching high and low for discounted ethical clothing and accessories and seeing the gap in the market, she took action. Love Justly offers a range of overstock and past season items from popular ethical brands like Passion Lillie, Hands Producing Hope, and Liz Alig at reduced price points.

For her, and for me, offering ethical fashion at a lower price point isn't an excuse to over-consume - we still have a responsibility to make smart choices - but it helps create buy-in for those who don't necessarily have the income or frame of mind to take the plunge into conscious consumerism.

What I've realized as a result of working with dozens of brands over the last few years is that once I can actually see, feel, and wear a fair trade garment or accessory, I really can tell a difference in quality, and that makes me want to invest in higher priced, ethical goods every time I need or want something. It's worth the extra money.

But when you're used to shopping fast fashion, it's difficult to imagine how much of a difference quality makes. I had never even felt a good quality textile until I started down this road. So having access to popular ethical brands at a lower price point is a huge step in the right direction. Once you know it's worth it, you can justify the price the next time you need to buy something.
  Love Justly Discount Ethical Clothing and Accessories Ethical Details: Top and Cardigan - thrifted; Boots - Po-Zu; Tassel Necklace - c/o Love Justly

In this outfit, I'm wearing the tassel necklace from Hands Producing Hope (read the company profile here). I worked with Hands Producing Hope directly before, so I knew their products were good quality and work well with my aesthetic. I love the length and simplicity of this piece, and the yellow offers a great accent to the blues and citrus tones in my wardrobe.

I'm partnering with Love Justly on a series of posts featuring different items from the shop. In each post, I'll share more about the ethical criteria and shopping experience of Love Justly.

Today, I'd love to hear your stories of taking the plunge into ethical fashion. Was the price point intimidating? What tips do you have for changing your expectations?


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Shop Love Justly


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My Beauty Routine: Help Me Make It Better

fair trade and natural beauty routine

Out of all ethical lifestyle categories, revamping my beauty routine has been the most difficult. 


It continues to be a challenge for brands and consumers to trace raw materials, but even when the product is mostly organic, it's likely not ethical from a labor or wage perspective. It's not surprising considering the immense variation and number of ingredients in a given elixir. Unlike a cotton t-shirt, you have to sort out the origin of a half a dozen oils, fragrances, and minerals just to verify the ethics of a single beauty product.

That being said, I've got a decent thing going with my current routine (with a few notable exceptions). As I've mentioned before, I have sensitive, combination skin that will react to almost anything - natural or not - if it's too potent. I can't slather on natural products that are too rich in concentrated essential oils, so I tend to mix them with unscented lotion to keep my skin calm and balanced.

This list contains some affiliate links.

My Go-To Products

Skincare:

Whole Foods Skin Cleanser
Hypoallergenic and unscented. Whole Foods generally has a higher standard for trade than conventional retailers.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Toner
Palm oil free, and the tea tree is fairly traded from The Kenya Organic Oil Farmers Association.

Whole Foods Skin Lotion
Hypoallergenic, unscented, and oil based. This item contains palm oil (the palm oil industry has destroyed thousand of acres of forest habitat and contributes to extreme violence against workers and activists) so I want to phase it out.

Desert Essence Restorative Face Oil
Organic, gentle ingredients. I mix 3-4 drops with my moisturizer at night to reduce flaking.

Makeup:

my go-to ethical beauty products
The complete look
The Body Shop Tea Tree BB Cream, Shade 01
Not the most natural in the bunch, but this product has really helped calm my acne-prone skin and smooth my complexion without heavy foundation. I blend a very small amount in with my moisturizer in the morning and apply as a tinted moisturizer.

The Body Shop All-in-One Face Base, Shade 02
Finely milled in my perfect shade. The sponge is also thick and sturdy. The Body Shop prides itself on trading fairly across the board, which is why I've turned to their products in recent years.

The Body Shop Baked-to-Last Blush, Petal
My preferred shade is currently sold out, but I love the soft shimmer on this blush and that it perfectly mimics the natural blush of my skin. I might try Root's Petal blush if it doesn't come back in stock.


The Body Shop Color Crush Eyeshadow
I've tried many shades in this product, but my favorite - a pearly beige - is out of stock. If it doesn't come back, I'll try Root's Peach Pearl Eyeshadow.

Root 100% Natural Lash Mascara
This 83% organic, palm oil free mascara is the first natural mascara I've tried that doesn't flake or get cakey. It's superior to nearly any other mascara I've tried.

Glossier Boy Brow, Brown
I responded to Glossier's aggressive targeted ads and purchased Boy Brow during their Black Friday sale. While not particularly natural, the effect is understated but satisfactory. I like that this product defines my brows and keeps them in place without making me look like a Kardashian.

I need your help!


I want a palm oil free option for moisturizer. It must be free of fragrance and potent essential oils. Plain oils don't do the job for me, so a lotion consistency is preferred. Do you have suggestions?

I'd also love your suggestions for a more natural BB cream and eyebrow tint option.

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What are your go-to ethical and all natural beauty brands?

7 Ethical Fashion Brands That Are Better Than Forever 21

5 Ethical Fashion Brands that are Better than Forever 21
I'm doing a series where I search out ethical alternatives for some of the most popular fast fashion retailers. Read the series here, and let me know what you'd like good alternatives for in the comments.

Forever 21

A fixture of the teen and twenty-something closet. When my college town got a Forever 21, I was there at least once a week, piling $5 t-shirts and $2 accessories into my cart. I bought scarves, jeans, skirts, dresses, blouses, earrings, and pretty much everything I could get my hands on because the prices were low and the fashions were in.

Of course, with a few exceptions, nothing lasted more than a year. My beloved turquoise burnout tee started pilling in 2 months. The vest seams curled. The jeggings started thinning out.

I soon realized that the thing I actually loved about Forever 21 wasn't the clothing - it was the binge. 

And like any binge, it wasn't good for me. Add to that Forever 21's rap sheet. Most recently, Forever 21 was found to be paying employees in the US only $4.00 an hour to produce their clothing (yes, you read that right). They also use sweatshop labor abroad. Additionally, they have been known to take advantage of their high school age workers by withholding wages, have stolen hundreds of designs from independent designers, and refuse to sign an agreement to make their factories safer for employees.

In the words of labor expert, Robert Ross:

Nobody in the world is making a living if a retailer is selling $10 jeans.

Well, no one except the owners.

It's time to pay a bit more for original designs made by people who receive a living wage. 

This post is comprised of individual brands as well as ethical marketplaces to help you get the variety Forever 21 is known for. Of course, the prices aren't always cheap, but that helps cut down on the shopaholic tendencies.

This post was updated 2/14/19. Contains some affiliate links.

7 Ethical Fashion Brands & Marketplaces That Are Better Than Forever 21

1 | ABLE

$$. Fashion forward, with lots of color and attention to trendy details, ABLE offers clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories made ethically with an emphasis on empowering women.

SHOP HERE.

2 | Krochet Kids

$-$$. Offering cotton tees, dresses, jumpsuits, and more, Krochet Kids produces items with forward-thinking silhouettes for women and men.

SHOP HERE.

3 | Ash & Rose

$$. One of my longtime favorites, Ash & Rose offers bohemian clothing from a range of ethical and sustainable brands, as well as a small, in house collection. You can shop their Outlet for reduced price items.

SHOP HERE.

4 | ASOS Eco-Edit

$-$$. A curated marketplace of ethical and sustainable goods within the larger ASOS site. Shop brands like People Tree, Dogeared, and ASOS' upcycled collection in one place.

SHOP HERE.

5 | Love Justly

$. A new shop that buys last-season clothing and accessories from fair trade brands and sells them at a discount. I like this concept a lot because it gives people access to a small selection of ethical products at a very good introductory price point and ensures that overstock gets sold off to good homes.

SHOP HERE.

6 | Accompany

$$-$$$. Accompany has a higher price point than previous brands mentioned, but carries of-the-moment styles made under fair trade guidelines.

SHOP HERE.

7 | EcoVibe Apparel

$-$$. A boutique featuring lots of different brands, EcoVibe stands out as the most-trend driven and affordable in the bunch, featuring ethical and domestically produced clothing and accessories for women.

SHOP HERE.
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7 ethical fashion brands alternatives to forever 21 stylewise-blog.com


And don't forget to shop secondhand. You can get lots of the precise things you're looking for on the secondhand market at reasonable prices. Try...

What Minimalists Can Learn from the Ascetics

Minimalism and Asceticism

If you got sucked into watching the Minimalism movie like I did, you might be thinking about casting off your worldly possessions in an attempt to live a life of renewed meaning.

You wouldn't be alone in this. In fact, minimalism has been practiced within world religions for centuries, just under a different name.

But first...

What is Minimalism?


Minimalism is the practice of thoughtfully and intentionally reducing our attachment to things, which includes both reducing our current material possessions and committing to consume less overall, in an effort to reorient ourselves to more meaningful actions, thoughts, and relationships. We clear the clutter to make room for what matters.

Minimalism has been a buzzword in lifestyle blogging circles for a few years now, but it's finally reached the mainstream. Everybody and their neighbor is clutching their household items to their chest, Marie Kondo-style, and determining whether they feel a sacred and mysterious attachment before throwing old scissors, socks, sweaters, scrapbooks and more into the "Donate" pile.

Undoubtedly, a yearning to pare down and focus on the the things that matter - namely relationships, self improvement, and community causes - is a good thing. As founder of Factory45 (a sustainable fashion incubator) Shannon Whitehead points out in Minimalism, trend cycles have accelerated from something like 4 a year to as many as 52. The high ecological, human, and psychological cost of this bombardment of stuff is unsustainable. We're burning out fast, literally and figurately.

And in light of the climate change crisis, it's an important time to take a long, hard look at our priorities and commit to sobering up. Our economic and agricultural systems are on the cusp of imploding. It's not a question of whether we want to do anything about it, it's a question of whether or not we'll turn things around before it's too late.

Minimalism, the film


The Minimalism film, which follows Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, the writers behind the popular The Minimalists blog, puts forth the idea that minimalism is the key to finding purpose in the frantic, purposeless modern world we find ourselves in. Featuring industry experts, practitioners of minimalism, and a scientist (who, outside of the film, also happens to be openly antagonistic toward religious types) speaking over a hopeful musical score, the film's consistent message is that the American Dream as we know it - high paying job, houses, cars, and picket fences - has led us astray and that the antidote to this, the true American Dream, is letting it all go to pursue minimalism.

Now, I'm somewhat on board with this. I've railed against the American Dream before, and think that buying into it (pun intended) tends to make us hyper-focused on accumulation of stuff as status symbol, as proof that we matter.

It should be noted, however, that both Millburn and Nicodemus climbed the corporate ladder and were in cushy, well paying jobs by their early 20s. The bulk of the practitioners of minimalism profiled are similarly well-to-do: NBC anchors, former Wall Street bankers, independently wealthy 20-somethings, entrepreneurs; and many of them are white men.

I mention this because, while the film insists that minimalism is a universal solution to filling the void, the evidence is not representative of a real cross section of Americans, so the jury's still out on whether marginalized groups and people standing on the poverty line can benefit in the same way. On a related note, the secular humanist spiritual overtones of the quest are likely to resonate much more deeply with people in Silicon Valley than the Shenandoah Valley. The context is not universally accessible, and that concerns me.

The other interesting twist, which needs more analysis by someone smarter than me, is that both Millburn and Nicodemus grew up in unstable households with drug addicted mothers. If I were a psychologist, I think I would want to draw a connection between the extreme instability of their childhoods and the extreme order of their minimalist lives. Perhaps not coincidentally, Marie Kondo had a similarly unstable and frenetic childhood. Minimalism in these contexts looks like a direct response to trauma, a (relatively healthy, all things considered) coping mechanism to combat the sadness and regret of unhappy family lives.

I have no doubt that these guys really want the best for people. You could see by their interactions with event attendees that they're true believers, that they've found an authentic joy in practicing minimalism that they want to share with others. But the conclusions drawn were not representative of a broader reality. The Minimalists believe that minimalism is an end in itself, that the pursuit of such a lifestyle will fill the hole in all of our hearts. But within the context of the film's narrative this didn't ring true, not even for the main characters.

In my viewing, it seemed more likely that meaning was gleaned not from minimalism itself, but from the opportunity to commune with other like-minded people and try to make the world a little bit better together. This is something everyone can benefit from, but we need to frame it well.

And that's why I want to talk about historical minimalism, more commonly called asceticism.

What is Asceticism?


Asceticism if a lifestyle characterized by fasting and self-denial, abstaining from worldly and material pleasures in order to reflect on spiritual matters. We clear the clutter to make room for what matters. 

Asceticism is minimalism, with one key difference. Ascetics are almost if not always religious adherents who deny themselves worldly pleasures with the specific intent of becoming "better" or more present practitioners of their faith, whatever that may mean in context.

Asceticism has been and continues to be practiced within many prominent world religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Monks, nuns, and priests within a variety of religions abide by some form of asceticism, practicing celibacy, modesty, vegetarianism, fasting, and meditation, and keeping rigid personal and communal schedules in order to more fully commit themselves to lives in service of God and people. Well known adherents to asceticism include St. Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, and Mother Theresa.

The ultimate purpose of asceticism is to totally reorient the practitioner's perceptions of what constitutes "the good life." Adherents are meant to find joy in simplicity and fulfillment in frugality. Being able to live more meaningfully with less frees the person to share the bounty, because it turns out that we don't need as much as we think to live well.

If you are taken by modern minimalism's purposeful ideal, you are following in a rich, transformative tradition.

But you must ask the question: what am I making room for?


Minimalism makes room for meaning, but asceticism - through its rich tradition and history - is inherently intertwined with and fixated on a particular meaningful goal. I do not buy the view set forth in the Minimalism film that merely pursuing a life of less will fill whatever emptiness we feel in our hearts and our homes at the end of the day. Minimalism may be a yellow brick road leading us to a place that feels more like home, but ultimately we're still directing our own lives.

What if I get rid of the books and the art and the past-season clothes and all I see are empty shelves, empty walls, and empty closets?

I can put in the work, but if it's not for something, it won't really matter.

Like the ascetics of old, we must become minimalists for a distinct reason. My Christian tradition gives me rich examples of ascetics who lived with little in order to contemplate God's will, and God's mercy. They were able to accomplish more than most because they weren't distracted by stuff.

You don't have to be a Christian to pursue a life of meaning, but I think you do need to know what your end goal is. Is it based in self-fulfillment or service to humanity? Is it based in a frantic need to start over or a quiet calling to embrace imperfection and settle in to the gifts of your life as it is now?

We in the conscious consumer community are fortunate to know what we're working toward: justice for people and planet.

If the pursuit of minimalism can make us better suited to accomplish that goal, then let's go for it. If it's just another way tamp down anxiety, then I think we can do without.

Whatever we choose, I think it's important we don't max out on minimalism. That's missing the point entirely.

Update 3/10/17, Additional ReadingMinimalism: another boring product wealthy people can buy

Farm to Closet Style: National Picnic's American-Made Kickstarter Dress + Giveaway

The American Made Kickstarter Dress - National Picnic ReviewThe American Made Kickstarter Dress - National Picnic Review
This post is in partnership with National Picnic and I was provided an item to review.

If there's been one recurring style thread through my wardrobe over the last decade it's blending classic, wearable style with all day comfort. I can't function in constricting clothing, but I don't want to look like I just came from the gym either. My blazers are knit, my pencil skirts have stretch in them, and my shoes are flats. I look good and, more importantly, feel comfortable in my own skin and my own clothes.

There are some designers that just get you. 


For me, it's National Picnic. Until recently, National Picnic was mostly a one-woman show, with designs conceived of and sewn by Betsy Cook in her studio. She's always been interested in making clothes responsibly - read her interview from last spring here - but she thought she could do more. So she did.

A couple months ago, National Picnic launched a Kickstarter campaign for their popular Sweatshirt Dress. But this wasn't just a way to get some extra cashflow at the beginning of the season.

This is the American-Made Kickstarter Dress


The fabric Cook sourced for the campaign was milled in North Carolina out of organic, Texas-grown cotton (blended with recycled polyester to reduce shrinkage). Then, the products were sewn at a manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania. That means fair labor and responsibly sourced materials were used at every step in the supply chain, and both National Picnic and the end customer, like me, are intimately connected to the process.

Our president elect thinks we need to make America great again, but it seems to me that American makers are doing great without the added propaganda. This is what progress really looks like.

The American Made Kickstarter Dress - National Picnic Review
The American Made Kickstarter Dress - National Picnic Review

The sourcing is admirable, but beyond that, the dress is a winner. 


Made of a thick, terrycloth sweatshirt material, it keeps out cold wind without making me feel overheated. The sleeves are cuffed just above the wrist, which make it easy to work and type without having to push up the sleeves. The length is flattering without being revealing if you have to bend over, and I really like the contrast neckline. The bottom hem is slightly angled to give a nod to athletic wear, but nothing feels overly trendy or too casual. It's timeless without being boring. And the price point is under $100.00, which proves to me that Cook and the National Picnic team care about fair profit margins.

The American Made Kickstarter Dress - National Picnic Review
Ethical Details: American-Made Kickstarter Dress - c/o National Picnic; Socks - Hanes (made in USA); Boots and Leggings - old

I have a feeling I'll be getting a lot of use out of the American-made dress this winter. 

And maybe you will, too! 

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Enter to win the American-Made Kickstarter Dress in the size and color of your choice. 


1. Subscribe to the mailing list by scrolling down to the form on this page.
2. Leave a comment telling me what color you'd choose in the American-Made Kickstarter Dress if you won (I'm wearing Dark Gray).

*BONUS: Additional entry on Instagram. Click here for instructions.

Contest will run through Wednesday, January 18 at 12:00 am EST. Open to US, Canadian, and European Union readers only. No purchase necessary.

Say It With Me Now: You Can't Buy Your Way to a Better World

Direct Sales and Social Justice: a Critique

Since I recently reworked my Direct Sales critique from several months ago, I wanted to take the opportunity to answer a particular question I received from a reader:

Why would you use your influence to speak out against a company that is ultimately seeking the greater good?

My first response is that internal critique is necessary if we want to push ourselves to the best solutions. 

Let me present an object lesson.

There are many homeless people in my community, and a certain subset of them are panhandlers. This annoys some people and saddens others. One of my kind-hearted volunteers told me that she always has a couple dollars on hand to give to them when she passes them on the street. This is a lovely, humanizing thing to do, but I think most of us would agree this is a short term solution because it doesn't address the systemic issues behind that homeless person's predicament.

It could be a slew of things: lack of mental health services, lack of career opportunities, lack of education, systemic poverty, etc. It's terribly complicated to fix those big problems, but you could find a middle ground by offering housing, either through a homeless shelter format or by offering Section 8 housing. This isn't a true resolution, but it is undoubtedly good.

In fact, at every small step of this narrative, there is good being done. 

The problem for me is that I'm an idealist to a fault. If I know what the best reality looks like, I believe I have a moral obligation to help realize it. I don't want people to think their job is done if they give money to panhandlers. I want them to want true and lasting equity, which means zooming way out to fight systems of oppression.

In the same way, direct sales models offered through Sseko Designs or Noonday Collection can accomplish some good. But they are not a solution. I have already beat the reasons why into the ground in my original post, complete with a John Oliver feature on Direct Sales models, so I suggest you read it.

But the the gist of it is that fair trade companies have no business associating themselves with legal pyramid schemes that (inadvertently) take advantage of the passion and social networks of hundreds of individuals who may never make more than enough to buy a few extra lattes each month.

It's an inconsistent ethic. 

These brands market themselves around caring for the well being of their artisans, but they don't take the same care when it comes to their direct sales representatives. In the communities where reps do make money, one must assume that they have access to people with lots of disposable income, because fair trade ain't cheap and even I would be hesitant to splurge on an impulse buy at a home party, no matter how lovely the mission.

So, if just the people with prior access to money are profiting, what's the point?

Some believe that direct sales is a particularly good framework for educating people about fair trade.

I can see that. But it's that turn in the conversation that helped me figure out why I feel so viscerally angry about direct sales applied to fair trade.

It is morally problematic to conflate shopping with world change. 

That statement might sound crazy in this context. This is an ethical shopping blog, after all.

But the thing you - and I - need to understand is that this is a niche blog on the internet.

This blog is not me. This blog is not a movement.

StyleWise is meant to be an unobtrusive resource for those interested in making more ethical and sustainable shopping and lifestyle choices. In my "real life," I'm not really fixated on evangelizing fair trade. Sure, I mention my blog from time to time and I'm very interested in engaging with customers at the thrift shop I manage about ethics in the marketplace whenever it comes up, but my orientation toward justice is, at the end of the day, rather inward.

That's because world change in everyday life - at least for me - is not primarily about encouraging better shopping habits. It's about being a listening ear, intuiting people's needs, being present, and offering hospitality. I find that those qualities are surprisingly hard to develop and practice, but I believe that putting in the work does lead us to better community organizing and advocating in the long run, which is what ultimately leads to broader progress. Whatever "ethics" work I do here has been funneled through that frame of reference.

The fact of the matter is...

Shopping in a way that does no harm to people and planet is not a radical act. 

It is baseline. It is the bare minimum. It is basic human decency.

I don't want to sit in a room with people at a home party and celebrate how good we are. I don't want to condone a perspective toward fair trade that sees it as one option in a sea of other options. If I'm going to have this conversation, it is going to be hard. It is going to be uncomfortable because we are going to have to come to terms with the fact that we are colonialists, pretentious, privileged, and ill-informed before we can change (and yes, I mean myself, too). 

I will not invite you over to sell you a fair trade necklace and then tell you that you just changed someone's life. The truth is, your single purchase did not change a life. And even if it did, this is not about you. (To be fair, this particular marketing angle is not exclusive to direct sales models - it is pervasive in other social enterprise models, as well. But direct sales models are, well, more direct.)

I know I'm being harsh right now, but I'm at my wit's end. Being gracious and flexible with people who are just starting out on this path is incredibly important, but if this is your passion and your vocation, I am asking you to put in the work and ask hard questions about your own intentions. I am asking you to understand the long term repercussions of the marketing and messaging we use to share the beauty of fair trade.

Asking hard questions and coming to un-fun conclusions will not break us. We need them to achieve true justice on this planet.

I want ethical living advocates to be able to educate people in a way that makes them more moderate in their purchases and more radical in their actions.

Direct sales models do the opposite.

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To be clear, I do not want fair trade direct sales companies to go out of business. I want them to seriously consider the implicit messaging of the systems they employ and take steps to remedy them. This post kept getting longer and longer so I didn't have time to delve into the colonialist implications of some of the specific fair trade direct sales models, but that reality just fuels the flame.

This isn't the first time I've touched on these points. Here are a couple related posts: 

Ethical Banking: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, by Holly Rose

ethical banking and investing by Leotie Lovely
This post was written by Holly Rose of Leotie Lovely as a part of her incredible #GoneGreen 365 Day ethical living challenge. Holly is a great researcher and an inspired writer, so check out her blog.

There are various subjects on this path towards a greater state of eco-wisdom and ethical awareness which provide a sense of activism - none easier nor more effective than directly pulling your funds from the root of the problems themselves. In many cases this means making alternative purchases when it comes to food, clothing, beauty and so on, but up until now I hadn't thought about the negative impacts of where I keep my money before I spend it.

The banking system was born in 1406, instigated by the Ancient Greeks and Romans to protect the funds of the public during troubled times. Back then, both ancient powers were quite adamantly Christian and thus their systems were based on the anti-materialism of Jesus. All banking was done ethically and any form of “Usura” (high-interest lending) was considered immoral (one of those seven sins of the deadly variety is GREED).

Today most investments would be considered immoral by the Greeks and Romans who set the standards with ethics rather than profits alone in mind.

Currently, conventional banks are among the biggest investors in the causes of climate change. Almost all of the big banks we’re familiar with (and likely do our banking with) have been accused of tax avoidance, financing the arms trade and investing in oil and nuclear industries, amongst other evils.

Up until recently, apart from keeping your cash in a shoebox under the bed, there weren’t many alternatives available. But in the past years, Ethical Banks around the world have begun to appear, investing themselves and their client’s funds in the environment, animal rights, social programs, impact investments, corporate social responsibility and more.

According to investment expert Audrey Choi, individuals own almost half of all global capital, giving them (us!) the power to make a difference by investing in companies and putting our money in banks which champion social values and sustainability (watch her TED talk on the subject HERE).

The way we bank is a true reflection of our own personal values. After all, the fruit of the majority of our labour: money, should only be allocated to that productive activity which serves us best, be it food, shelter or investment. Banking and finance can really be a force for good, instead of simply a force for profit, and it is within our power to achieve that, as the customers, taxpayers and often shareholders of these companies. By changing our attitude towards our money, and the way we allocate that money, we can positively influence this industry which is so interwoven into the fabric of our society. - Ethical Banker (an anonymous blog by an ex-big bank private investment banker)

By withdrawing your money from the bad banks who line the pockets of their directors and our politicians, you’re taking back the very fuel which empowers them...

Read the rest of the post here, and a get a list of ethical banks to switch to.

StyleWise is 4 Years Old!

ethical fashion blog goals and resources

Happy Birthday to the blog!

I've been tinkering with ethical fashion blogging for 4 years! I didn't start StyleWise with any set plan of where I wanted it to go or what I wanted it to be. Rather, I knew that I desperately needed a place to gather resources on conscientious consumerism and I hoped that I would be able to find like-minded people out there to offer support and challenge me to keep pushing forward.

Four years on, I can honestly say that this blog has changed my life.

Not only have I found hundreds of resources, blogs, and brands that aid me in this journey, I've made dozens of ethical blogging friends and had great conversations with lots of readers from all over the world. I have been challenged and trolled, I've cried and raged, I've made decisions that weren't always the best, but more than anything, I feel firmly planted in a community - and a movement - that seeks the good, that favors cooperation over competition, and that understands that justice is more than what we buy.

I've had the opportunity to guest post on a role model's blog, speak at a church conference, create consistent content for a fair trade tea company, and write for publications like Christianity Today, Mind Body Green, Relevant, and Selva Beat Magazine. I have confidence as a writer and researcher, and I've learned how to handle criticism without being nasty or unchanging.

And I've also had a lot of fun. 

I have made good friends with fellow writers and with ethical brand owners. I've tried new styles and learned what my true style is. I've learned how to self-critique without putting myself down. But I've also learned that, though the movement is growing, we are nowhere near done.

Sometimes it feels like every step forward is paired with a step back.

Though the buildings in Bangladesh are safer today than in 2013, the employees are even more overworked. Though there are hundreds of ethical brands, greenwashing is more rampant than ever. Though there are tons of ways to get ethical fashion at a lower price point, that also means we're at risk of overindulging in trend-oriented fashion.

So I ask myself this question: What can I do moving forward?

I'm not one to say that ethical fashion must be minimalist, so it's not necessarily a bad thing to have cheaper options, especially when they're secondhand. But I have to continue to do my due diligence and ask hard questions. It may be easier on the surface to shop ethically, but products in an increasingly crowded and trend-oriented market are not always what they're chalked up to be.

A sustainably-made garment that falls apart in 6 months is not truly sustainable. A high quality garment that doesn't suit my sense of style is an unwise purchase. An ethical item that costs $300, even if I receive it for free for review, is not a realistic option for my lifestyle or my budget.

I want to be honest with myself so I can be honest with you, and that means re-calibrating when necessary.

I have occasionally been called the "budget ethical blogger" by brands that believe the price points I represent are too low to align with their marketing. I used to take offense at this, but now I see it as an asset. 

I certainly don't want to represent "cheap" clothing, but I understand how hard the buy-in is when everything is priced outside a "normal" person's budget. I do try to review items that hover at or below $100 because I can't honestly say I'd purchase something - other than a solid pair of jeans or shoes - at a higher price point than that.

Don't get me wrong. My expectation of how much I should pay for clothing and accessories has increased over my years of blogging and it's reflected in my actual purchases as well as items I review. But I want to assure you that this is because I've learned that quality is very often correlated to price, and I'd rather invest in better materials than save a few bucks, even if that means saving up for things.

This year, I want to focus on providing content that helps every single person live a more ethical lifestyle. 


I plan to partner with more brands on a long term basis to show versatility and encourage you all to find the companies you love and stick with them. It makes shopping easier and creates a more cohesive, timeless wardrobe.

I plan to offer more introductory resources, so that newbies can find what they need without getting overwhelmed.

I plan to touch base about the industry and my general thoughts more frequently, probably once monthly.

I plan to incorporate a thoughtful and inclusive approach to my Christian faith as it pertains to living an ethical lifestyle. The Christians and secular humanists need to be in conversation if we're really going to change the world. I want to bridge that gap with clear, approachable information.

I want you to know that you are free to reach out and ask questions. I'm not always good about sticking to a plan, but I wanted to start off the year with transparency so that you all can keep me on track!

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Thanks for sticking with me for 4 years. I'm confident 2017 will be another great year for ethical fashion, and for StyleWise.