Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability

SUSTAINABLE STYLE & ETHICAL LIVING

Gift Guide: Ethical Alternatives to Joanna Gaines' Hearth & Hand Collection

ethical fair trade alternatives to Hearth and Hand from Ten Thousand Villagesethical fair trade alternatives to Hearth and Hand from Ten Thousand Villages
I was compensated for my time writing this post by Ten Thousand Villages, a company I've been supporting for over ten years.

Oh, Joanna. Who can know what combination of charm, good looks, doofy husband's antics, and business savvy led thousands of her show's - and now product empire's - loyal fans to trade out their perfectly reasonable drywall for splinter-risking Shiplap?

No matter how you feel about the Fixer Upper star's design aesthetic, there's something to be said for its distinctiveness. While I don't really do shabby chic, I appreciate that her precise combo of new and antique lends a certain homeyness to every house she redesigns. And, let's be honest, a huge part of the show's success has to do with the sweet, southern lifestyle she and her family portray. It's the lifestyle we're after.

Joanna and Chip Gaines' design brand, Magnolia Home, recently partnered with Target on Hearth & Hand*, a collection of artisan and antique-inspired home decor that would fit right into any Fixer Upper home makeover.

But you know what I found surprising? A lot of it - I mean, basically all of it - looks like something you could find on the fair trade market, and specifically at Ten Thousand Villages. 

Ten Thousand Villages, above all, is known for their handcrafted decor items. The sorts of things that balance nostalgia with modern design - recalling the warmth of the hearth, but made by fairly paid hands.

Here are my picks for ethically sourced, artisan-first items that closely approximate the Hearth & Home look without the questionable sourcing...
get the hearth and hand look fair trade and ethical with Ten Thousand Villages

Instead of the House Bud Vase
Clean House Ceramic Box, $18.99

Instead of the Galvanized Container Candle
Bottle Beehive Wine Rack, $59.99

Instead of the Pressed Glass Photo Frame
Small Floating Frame, $24.99

Instead of the Carved Wood Decorative Bowl
Mango Wood Serving Board, $34.99
get the hearth and hand look fair trade and ethical with Ten Thousand Villages

Instead of the Sugared Birch Pillar Candle
Warm Honey Candle, $12.99

Instead of the Merry & Bright Framed Wall Art
Gather Cut Metal Wall Art, $29.99

Instead of the Embroidered Throw Blanket
Homespun Table Runner, $39.99

Instead of the Embroidered X Pattern Throw Pillow
Love Lives Here Pillow, $39.99

Our society, as of late, has been obsessed with seeking out the simple things. 

But simple things aren't simple: they require effort, attention to detail, and labor. For only a few more dollars per item, we can choose fair trade. It may not feed your Target addiction, but it'll certainly have more meaning. That simple, sweet lifestyle is available to you, but only when you choose to add a little extra care to your shopping this season.

*I posted the Target link so you can do a style comparison, not to tempt you!

All photos via Ten Thousand Villages, used with permission.

Gift Guide: For the Traveler | Artisan Made Goods for Your Next Adventure

Genesis Fair Trade Ethical Travel Gift Guide
I was compensated for my time creating this post by Genesis Fair Trade. Featured above: Dulce Mandarina Backpack

I'm fortunate to work at a shop that closes down for the last weeks of December. We're mostly volunteer run, so it's important to give our hardworking, unpaid staff some time to travel to their families or relax at home for the Holidays. The byproduct of that is that I get time off, too.

This year, Daniel and I are going to roadtrip down to our homeland, Florida, to meet up with family, visit old friends, and soak up the southern sun. Traveling up and down the east coast is truly an adventure. Hundreds of miles of Blue Ridge Mountains eventually turn to foothills, then flat land as you slither your way through long stretches of Georgia. Humidity increases. Eventually you can smell the Atlantic Ocean - you can feel the salt in the air even before you catch a glimpse of that eternal, glimmering sea.

Traveling is an immersive, life giving experience if you take the time to do it with intention.

It only makes sense to cradle your travel essentials - from clothes to money to phones - in items created with intention: with fair labor, careful curation, and extraordinary talent.

Today I'm featuring hand selected items for your next adventure, all available from Genesis Fair Trade...
Genesis Fair Trade - Gift Guide for the Traveler

TRAVEL BAGS

Fiesta de Abril Crossbody, $20

Perfect for security lines and quick trips to the gas station. Made in Guatemala.

Olas Rotas Overnight Bag, $255

Made in Guatemala with locally sourced fabrics and dyes. Great for weekend getaways.

Mina de Turquesas Backpack, $164

Handmade in Guatemala using a traditional Mayan color palette. I prefer a backpack when traveling by air.
  Genesis Fair Trade - Gift Guide for the Traveler

HELPFUL ADDITIONS

Lightweight Mayan Ikat Scarf, $49

Hand-dyed and woven in Guatemala. Perfect to add a bit of warmth while traveling by train, plain, or automobile. And if you're going somewhere warm, you can use it to keep the chill off at night.

Allinchaey Acua Cusco Coin Purse, $35

I like to throw toll change, small bills, and even lip balm in my little coin purse so it doesn't get lost in my purse. Made in a pattern used by Incan and Andean communities in Peru. Lined in cotton.

Mayan iPhone Case, $35

For 6/6S and 6 Plus/6S Plus. Made with traditional Yucatecan Maya designs in Mexico.

Most of the items shown above come in different designs and color stories, so I recommend poking around on the Genesis Fair Trade Website to find the best fit for you. 

Happy travels!

Shop Genesis Fair Trade


Genesis Fair Trade on Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Genesis Fair Trade - Gift Guide for the Traveler

Fair Trade's Legacy: People & the Power of Collaboration

Genesis Fair Trade - Why fair trade matters
The Awajun Necklace, made with seeds from Peru
I was compensated for my time writing and photographing for this post by Genesis Fair Trade

The community organizing group I was involved in a few years ago often reminded its members that the collective is what empowers organizations and citizens.

They use the term, People Power

Individuals can strive for justice, but our voices are amplified and mobilized toward systemic change when we find our voices, together. When we proclaim our value, in unison. This is, perhaps, why I like singing in choirs so much. It's both a metaphorical and literal example of what happens when people come together, set aside their egos, and work toward a singular goal.

This is also why I find the stories of grassroots organizations and fair trade co-ops so compelling. They are proof of hope. They are examples of how to value people both inside and outside organizational structures in order to bring about progress.

And this is why Fair Trade Month, which occurs every October, feels like a holiday to me. It's a time when hardworking fair trade artisans and institutions not only get to highlight their individual organizations, but come together to celebrate the broader values of justice, quality of life, and thriving that hold them together.

Fair trade organizations share core values, but each one is structured slightly differently. For the sake of clarity, today I want to talk about the way one particular fair trade company is run: Genesis Fair Trade.
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Genesis Fair Trade - Why fair trade matters

Genesis Fair Trade works with several artisan co-ops in Central and South America and across the world. These co-ops are self regulated, but contract with Genesis Fair Trade at a fair trade wage to provide scarves, ponchos, toys, jewelry, and even cell phone cases. The backpack featured in this post was produced by Guatemalan artisans using local materials.

Guatemalans, particularly indigenous Maya, have been marginalized for hundreds of years due to colonialism. The Guatemalan Civil War, which occurred between 1960 and 1996, brought the injustice to a head when former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt committed genocide on the Maya, leading to displacement, starvation, and severe human rights violations. It should be noted that the US backed the initial coup d'etat that led to civil war. We are, as always, complicit.

To be honest, when I came across that bit of history, I was shocked almost to tears. To write about the work of the Maya, work that I literally carry on my back, knowing that my own people had a hand in the injustices that led to genocide, feels heavy. Yet this is why we must share.

Fair trade is more than offering a helping hand. It's, maybe, one small act toward reconciliation and redemption. One small step toward People Power. 

Today, Genesis Fair Trade, in addition to offering fair prices, assists with education, water supply, and health care in the communities where it operates. This network of community organizations ensures that the most vulnerable in Guatemala, and elsewhere, can begin to thrive again.

The Maya and other marginalized communities stood up to injustice, and they suffered greatly for it (historians estimate that 200,000 civilians were killed by the government during the conflict). Nevertheless, they persisted. Knowing their history and sharing in their future is one way we can work toward a better future, together. We do not exoticize them. We see them as equal partners in building the world we want for ourselves.
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Genesis Fair Trade - Why fair trade matters
Del Sol Al Mar Clutch from Mexico
Here's the other thing about fair trade: it is one step closer to solving the problem of poverty.

As I've written about before, charity isn't a solution to social ills, it's merely a stop-gap. While the work of charities is incredibly important - hey! I even work for one - the nonprofit sector can also be shortsighted when it comes to long term, infrastructural change (watch Poverty, Inc.). Ensuring that talented people can maintain living wage employment and care for their loved ones means that no one needs to swoop in and "save" anyone. When everyone has what they need in the first place, we eliminate the need for charitable work that, despite its best efforts, often creates uncomfortable power dynamics between the savior and those that supposedly need saving. We leave our mutual integrity intact.

Genesis Fair Trade likes to think of this as the new way to give back. There will always be crisis and poverty that requires monetary and physical mobilization, but effective fair trade models honor our shared humanity by ensuring that everyone can contribute in a way that honors who they are and what they do - and have a life of abundance.

Americans would do well to consider what that would look like in our own lives.

Tomorrow, I'll be sharing more products from Genesis Fair Trade in a Gift Guide for Travelers. Later down the road, I'll post a full review of the backpack.

Shop Genesis Fair Trade

Genesis Fair Trade on Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Ethical Fashion Sales: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals 2017

ethical black friday and cyber monday sales
This list contains affiliate links

A running list of ethical Black Friday sales with new discounts added every day. Comment if you know of others and I'll add them.

ONGOING

  • PACT Apparel: 30-60% off sitewide
  • Accompany: Take 20% off sitewide with code GRATEFUL20; Save 25% off orders over $150 with code GRATEFUL25; and Take 30% off orders over $300 with code GRATEFUL30
  • Nisolo: Daily sales. Check site for details.
  • Krochet Kids: 40% off sitewide + free US shipping on orders $60+ with code, BETTERFRIDAY through 11/24
  • Smockwalker Vintage: 30% off. No code required.
  • Kissing Tree Vintage: 30% off. No code required.
  • Nicora Shoes: Most items on sale. No code required.
  • Tonle: 30% off everything with code, GivingWeek30, through Tuesday
  • LUR Apparel: 20% off with code, Thanks20, through 11/26
  • Alohas Sandals: Additional 30% off with code, black30, through 11/26
  • Grana: 20% off. No code required.
  • Tea Collection: Select styles $15 and under
  • Maggie's Organics: 25% off + free shipping through 11/28
  • Jamie + the Jones: 35% off Blank Canvas tops through Cyber Monday with code, SLOWFASHION
  • Joon + Co: Email subscribers get 40% off
  • Liz Alig: 35% off with code, THANKSGUYS
  • Happy Fox Studio: 10% off with code, THANKS, and 10% of proceeds donated to racial and social justice orgs, through Cyber Monday
  • Glad Rags Pads: 30% off Day Pads and Night Pads with mismatched holders and inserts + graduated discounts
  • Curator SF: 30% off clothing with code, GOODKARMA, through 11/28
  • Esby Apparel: 20% off through Cyber Monday with code, GIFT&GIVE20
  • ABLE (FashionABLE): Spend under $50, save 15%; spend $50+, save 20%; spend $200+, save 30% + FREE SHIPPING on all US domestic orders
  • Soul Flower: 35% off sale Friday-Cyber Monday with code, darkstar
  • Beaumont Organic: Extra 20% off sale with code, EXTRA20
  • Bourgeois Boheme: 30% off with code, SUSTAIN, through Cyber Monday
  • Kowtow: Up to 50% off
  • Synergy Organic Clothing: 40% off with code, synergy40, through 11/28
  • Belvele: $50 off purchases of $100 or more with code, thankful
  • JORD: Save up to $100 on watches for 24 hours
  • Love Justly: Get $25 off any order above $50 with code, Black Friday
  • Nourish Organic: Use promo code 40OFFBFCM to get 40% off of your entire order Black Friday thru Cyber Monday with FREE U.S shipping on orders over $69
  • Malia Designs: 30% off site wide (Friday through Tues) with code, FAIRISTHENEWBLACK
  • Fortress of Inca: 10 to 50% off all styles. Through Cyber Monday.
  • Manos Zapotecas: Buy one, get one free.
  • Hazel & Rose: 25% off site-wide, plus a free gift with purchases totaling over $100 with code, MANYTHANKS Through Cyber Monday.
  • Everlane: Purchases go toward the Black Friday Fund
  • Ember & Aura: 40% off + free shipping with code, blackember
  • Janessa Leone: 30% off hats and handbags through 11/27
  • GlobeIn: Free Handblown Glassware Set (Pitcher & Two Glasses) With Purchase Of 3-Month Or Longer Premium Artisan Box Subscription. 
  • 31 Bits: Graduated sales based on total purchase price. See blog for details.
  • Deux Mains: Warehouse sale, 15% off everything, free gift with every purchase + free shipping over $100.00
  • Made Jewelry: 30% off through Cyber Monday
  • Encircled: 20% off select basics + FREE shipping to US and Canada with code, FRIDAY
  • Ten Thousand Villages: Buy One, Get One 50% off on jewelry and ornaments, online and at participating stores
  • Mata Traders: 30% off clothes and accessories with code, SHOPFAIR17
  • IMBY: 20% off with code, GIVINGTHANKS
  • Neo Thread: free gifts with purchase
  • Bead & Reel: 60% off sale with code, ETHICALBLACKFRIDAY, and 35% off pre-loved with code, REUSERECYCLE
  • Oliberte: 30% off everything
  • Amour Vert: 20% off with code, GREENFRIDAY
  • Alternative Apparel: 30% off with code, THANKU30
  • Solo Six: 40% off with code, TREATS
  • Krochet Kids: 40% off sitewide + free US shipping on orders $60+ with code, HOLIDAY through 11/28
  • Manos Zapotecas: 40% off through Cyber Monday.
  • Indigenous: 35% off with code, BigSale, through Tuesday

STARTS CYBER MONDAY

  • Love Justly: Get 30% off any order with code, Cyber Monday
  • Anchal Project: 30% off your entire order + Free Shipping on orders over $200
  • GlobeIn: Buy One Artisan Box, Get One 50% Off. No coupon required. Through 11/30.
  • Encircled: 20% off select multiway clothing + FREE shipping to US and Canada with code, CYBER
  • Ten Thousand Villages: Deals on select items
  • Oliberte: Extra 10% off + free shipping with code, CYBER10
  • Bhava Studio: BOGO half off. Coupon applies automatically.
  • Ethos Collection: 40% off clothing

STARTS GIVING TUESDAY

  • GlobeIn: 50% Off Your First Artisan Box With Any Premium Subscription.

Plus...

DoneGood just launched a shopping site that compiles hundreds of goods from ethical brands paired with their exclusive discounts. Shop the site here.

Check out Alden's roundup for more sales.

The Moral Wardrobe: Hot Fuzz

ethical outfit with vintage jeans and combat bootsethical outfit with vintage jeans and combat bootsethical outfit with vintage jeans and combat bootsethical outfit with vintage jeans and combat bootsethical outfit with vintage jeans and combat boots
Ethical Details: Sweater - old; Thermal Shirt - thrifted; Jeans thrifted; Boots - old

Oldies but goodies...

I bought this H&M fuzzy sweater in 2013, back when I thought H&M was the pinnacle of ethical labor standards. Turns out, that's not really true and, at its massive scale, there's no way it's ecologically sustainable either. Still, this sweater has been a worn and loved for many years now. It's incredibly soft, quite dense, and really fun to wear. I paired it with some boots I purchased a few years ago for something like $15 at a Ross store in a neighboring town. Not ethical at all (they're Steve Madden), but the pleather is completely water proof and there's ample toe room, so they work well with thick wool socks.

I originally intended to resell these vintage jeans in my now defunct vintage shop. No one purchased them after several months, so they were tucked away in storage until I pulled them out last winter. They fit me so well and have stretch in them, so they're tolerable to wear, unlike many mom jeans.

Just goes to show that sometimes purchases that look like ethical mistakes can still be put to good use. The important thing is to love them and wear them!

Trim the Tree: Where to Buy Fair Trade Ornaments

where to buy fair trade ornaments
This post contains affiliate links

There is no better time to invest in fair trade than Christmas! Artisan crafts were practically made for tree trimming (and yes, I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I'm kind of into the Holidays this year).

Here are my picks for fair trade ornaments. Don't forget to poke around each site for additional options. Ten Thousand Villages and Novica, in particular, carry dozens of different styles.

From left to right, top to bottom

Zuri Collection Star Ornaments, $30 set of 3

Ten Thousand Villages Penguin Ornament, $10.99

Ten Thousand Villages Wooly Sheep Ornament, $10.99

Ten Thousand Villages Pan Flute Ornament, $6.99

Ten Thousand Villages Filigree Snowflake Ornament, $18.99

Thanda Zulu Reindeer Ornament, $15.00

Thanda Zulu Tree Ornament, $10.00

Novica Elephants Ornaments, $19.99 set of 4

Novica Holy Land Ornaments, $39 set of 3

Novica Buddhist Bells, $19.99 set of 3

Uncommon Goods Felt Cactus Ornament, $15.00

Uncommon Goods Hand Kit Dog Ornament, $28.00

Conscious Beyond Clothing: Switch Your Search Engine to Plant Trees this Holiday Season

Ecosia Social good search engine - plant trees with every search
I was compensated for my time and research writing and marketing this post by Ecosia.

I have a confession to make: I'm an extreme Googler.

I google everything, which is why I can tell you about sperm whales' amazing interactions with humans, the ages and filmography of every Stranger Things actor, the history of the Guatemalan Civil War, the invention of the potato donut, and so much more!

Web browsers and search engines are things many of us consider ethics neutral. They are merely the framework we use to research, discuss, and deal with ethical issues. But that's not really true. 

Search engines are owned by private companies with private interests and varying degrees of respect for our privacy, or concern for basic human and ecological thriving. And not too many of them are concerned with the immediate impact of a quick search or a fall down the rabbit hole that is the internet.

I recently started using a search engine that confronts these ethical issues head on by offering accountability and an ecological benefit every time you do a search.

Introducing Ecosia. 

Ecosia Social good search engine - plant trees with every search

Click over to Ecosia, type in your search terms, press enter, and plant trees. 

How it works

Ecosia operates on the carbon neutral Bing platform, the second most popular search engine in the world, to offer a social benefit with every search.

Like all browsers, Ecosia displays ads alongside regular search results. When you click on those ads, Ecosia gets a commission. They pay business expenses and payroll, then use at least 80% of surplus income to plant trees through carefully selected partnerships around the world. As a certified B-Corp, they maintain accountability to the public by offering monthly income reports.

Why Plant Trees?

Planting trees isn't exactly the most glamorous issue to confront in the sustainability sector. But Ecosia chooses to invest their profits in planting trees because the benefit to people and planet is multi-fold and exposes the interconnectedness of ecological and human thriving.
why does ecosia plant trees?
It turns out, we need trees to survive. 

And in dramatically deforested places, replanting can mean the difference between life and death. From restoring one of the planet's 36 biodiversity hotspots in Tanzania to reforesting orangutan habitat devastated by the palm oil industry in Borneo, trees give animals their homes back, reduce erosion, and ensure that soil is fertile for crop production. The organizations Ecosia partners with also offer longterm conservation education and help locals transition into sustainable industries.

In the longterm, healthy forest ecosystems contribute dramatically to human flourishing. Forests pull water from their roots and release it through their leaves, which creates clouds that water crops; they regulate the temperature of their environment; they produce food like nuts, berries, and spices; and they reduce the effects of climate change, both by removing CO2 from the air and by creating microclimates that protect sensitive crops. Trees have evolved to protect us in the most foundational ways, by providing clean air and regulated growth of edible plants.

To date, Ecosia has helped plant over 16 million trees!
Ecosia Social good search engine - plant trees with every search
And all that to say this: switching your search engine might literally be the easiest sustainable switch you'll ever make. 

If you switch to Ecosia for all your shopping this Holiday season, you'll contribute to dramatic and sustainable progress.

So what are you waiting for? Start using Ecosia now.


Photos by Stephan Vance and John Price on Unsplash

Gift Guide: Entertaining | Ethical Loomed Goods for Home & Her + Giveaway

ethical woven goods from mayamam - ethical gift guide 2017
I was compensated for my time writing this post by MayaMam Weavers. 

The Holiday Season is about so much more than frantic shopping and gift giving. I was reflecting on this last month and came to the conclusion that I actually prefer Thanksgiving to Christmas because it isn't so fixated on commercialism. If done correctly, it is about the simple, life giving work of making and serving. We gather 'round to give thanks and catch up. We stuff ourselves full of food that took hours upon hours to prepare, then settle in for a nap or an afternoon walk. We enjoy simple comforts and small reminders of why living is good.

When I considered gift guides for this Holiday season, I tried to strike a balance between offering useful shopping resources and creating something rooted in meaning and human connection.

Our gifts should be an outpouring of the abundant thankfulness in our hearts, not a wasteful exercise. 

With that in mind, I'm prioritizing the work of artisans who work in ancient handicrafts, like weaving, and contemporary companies that value the individuality of handwork. I've become enamored with artisan work this year because it gives me great comfort to see beauty in human hearts and hands when there's so much ugliness in the world.

Today, I'm offering two mini-guides featuring the work of MayaMam Weavers...
ethical woven goods from mayamam - ethical gift guide 2017

FOR HOME

(Starting from top, then left to right)
Adjustable ties, front pockets, sturdy cotton

Brocaded Pillows, $195

Hand loomed, one of a kind
Inspired by a traditional weave and woven on a foot loom. Pair with woven napkins.
Uses Insulbrite® thermal batting for hand protection.
Handwoven on the back strap loom.

ethical woven goods from mayamam - ethical gift guide 2017

FOR HER (& HIM)

Blues Border Wrap, $44

Lightweight, multi season with hand tied fringe

Rolltop Backpack in Caramel, $125

Handwoven cotton canvas with water bottle pocket and front zip pocket.

Champagne and Pearls Scarf, $25

Hand woven with hand braided fringe

Stormy Blues Unisex Toiletry Bag, $42

Lined in waterproof ripstop nylon with suspender style tie-downs.

About MayaMam Weavers  

Poverty and lack of infrastructure in the Mayan town of Cajolá in the western highlands of Guatemala have required more than 30% of the population to relocate to the United States. Founder, Caryn Maxim, met a small group of native Cajolans while volunteering in her hometown of Morristown, New Jersey. The relationship they formed with one another led her to go with them when they returned to Cajolá. They decided to partner together to create living wage jobs, particularly for women who were already fluent in the art of backstrap and footloom weaving.

The artisans are Maya from the Mam ethnic group, thus the name, MayaMam. Artisans have a say in compensation standards, have access to educational and vocational training, and are largely responsible for the design and running of the business. Caryn and the US team ensure that designs are marketable to US consumers and manage sales stateside. MayaMam is a member of the Fair Trade Federation.

WIN A COSMETIC BAG   

Enter to win this woven cosmetic bag. To enter, simply complete the form below (leaving a comment is required, but other entries are bonuses!).


Open to US readers 18 and older. Giveaway ends Sunday, November 26th at 11:59pm. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The 5 Best Places to Consign or Sell Your Ethical Clothes Online

where to consign and sell ethical clothing online
If your closet is overstuffed, you've got a dozen grocery bags full of things to donate, or a life change has left you with things you can no longer wear, the answer may be to resell them. 

I'm all for donating, but if you're on a budget or have goods from small labels that aren't that marketable to the masses, it makes a lot of sense to consider your resale options. One of the biggest issues with donating a pile of unsorted clothes is that the staff at thrift shops are mostly left to their own devices to discern what is quality and what will sit on the racks for the next six months. It's more satisfying for everyone if you ensure that your specific goods can go to someone who understands what they are and really wants them.

For myself, I prefer to consign at a local shop (Darling Boutique is my favorite), because in-person sales are often more successful than online ones, you can interact with a real person, and the consignment payout is up to 50%. I choose items I think have mass appeal to send to consignment, then use Poshmark or Ebay to sell specialty items and small labels.

But what to consider when you're selling online? Here are a few things to keep in mind...

Time Commitment: First, you need to take the time commitment of reselling seriously, and be honest about how much time you are willing to commit to photographing, communicating with customers or consignment owners, and waiting for things to sell.

Effort: If you decide to resell yourself, you'll likely make more money per transaction, but you'll be responsible for packing things up and taking them to the post office. You'll also have to decide if you want to accept returns.

Quality and Curation: Whether you're consigning or reselling, in order to save both effort and time, make sure to narrow down your items to high quality, in demand clothing that looks good when photographed. Some items simply won't sell online, so consider hosting a swap or donating what doesn't make the cut.

This list contains a few affiliate links.

CONSIGNMENT

Thredup

Pros: Incredibly easy - just request a Clean Out Bag and put all your stuff in it
Cons: Very low payouts | Many items and brands not accepted | Only a small number of ethical brands accepted (Eileen Fisher and Everlane are top ones)
Payment Format: Upfront payout
iPhone App? Yes
Would Recommend? No, if you aim to make money. Yes, if you have no time to deal with your piles of clothing in another way

Learn more here

I used to be a strong proponent of Thredup, but over the years, they've reduced their total payouts and hiked up prices. I once sent in a huge bag full of new and like-new clothes - some with tags - and only got a $2.00 payout!

Slowre

Pros: Focuses on ethical fashion and boutique brands so your ethical goods will fetch a higher price
Cons: You must photograph all items ahead of time for approval | Specializes in upscale brands
Payment Format: 55% of total sale price after item sells
iPhone App? No
Would Recommend? Yes, if you've got high quality, ethical items to sell

Learn more here

Bead & Reel Rescued Collection

Pros: Focuses on trend-driven ethical and vegan fashion
Cons: Vegan items only | Payment offered as store credit
Payment Format: 50% of total sale price in store credit after item sells
iPhone App? No
Would Recommend? Yes, if you like to shop at Bead & Reel

Learn more here

RESALE

Poshmark

Pros: It's the happenin' place for resale these days | Shipping and customer communication managed by the platform | Social sharing options
Cons: Some brands and products are hard for customers to discover | You can't directly communicate on orders or negotiations | Social sharing is almost required for discovery | High fee | Flat rate and Make an Offer only | US only
Payment Format: Poshmark takes 20% commission on the sale after purchase is complete
iPhone App? Yes (Use referral code, leahcwise, for $5 credit)
Would Recommend? Yes, for "hot" brands and items. No, for off brand items and things geared toward an older audience

Learn more here

I've had some success selling brands like Everlane, MATTER, and VEJA on Poshmark, but the commission rate is quite high considering you're doing a lot of the work yourself. And customers will almost always use the "Make an Offer" option, so be prepared to negotiate. My shop here.

Ebay

Pros: Large and well respected marketplace | You can find a buyer for nearly anything | Easy to use platform | Low fee | Bid, Flat Rate, and Make an Offer options, customizable for each listing
Cons: Crowded marketplace | Shipping rates and customer communication are your responsibility
Payment Format: Ebay takes 10% commission on the sale after purchase is complete
iPhone App? Yes
Would Recommend? Yes, for less niche items and things you're looking to make a quick buck on. No, if you're aiming to get closer to market rate for your goods

I've been selling and buying on Ebay for at least a decade, so I'm comfortable with the format. Some sellers may find it overly complicated for their needs, but I personally find the most success on Ebay, especially when it comes to selling Everlane (international customers can't currently buy directly from the Everlane site, so they are anxious to buy from resell sites like Ebay).


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Whether you choose to consign or sell yourself, reselling takes time and effort. But it can also be the most satisfying way to ensure you don't go over your seasonal clothing budget and get your items in the hands of people who will enjoy them for years to come.

P.S. In an ideal world, all of our ethical goods would work out for us. But sometimes you end up with something that just doesn't fit right, or isn't suitable for your lifestyle. I believe it's better to be honest about that and move on in a responsible way rather than holding onto it.

where to sell ethical clothing online - poshmark and ebay review


Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Sweaters & Outerwear

guide to sustainable sweaters and outerwear My top tip for finding ethical winter wear?

Get it secondhand!

Winter wear, due to the quality and amount of materials used, can be an expensive investment, so if you're budget conscious, balancing a few investment pieces with secondhand finds is your best bet.
I have a handful of cashmere and wool sweaters, a pair of snow boots, and a navy wool toggle coat all purchased for $30.00 or less from thrift shops. If thrifting isn't your thing, try Ebay or Poshmark.

Still, sometimes you need to buy new. Here are my picks for ethical, sustainable, and durable sweaters and outerwear...

guide to sustainable sweaters and outerwear
This list contains affiliate links

SWEATERS

Siizu

Sizes XS-L. Modern and minimalist cashmere and wool sweaters.

Everlane

Sizes XXS-XL. Wool, cashmere, and blended sweaters in classic and modern shapes.

PAKA

Sustainable, alpaca sweaters made in Peru. This company is run by a guy who lives in Charlottesville; see photos from our shoot together here. (Backordered until March 2018 after a successful kickstarter)

Eileen Fisher

Sizes XXS-XL with Petite and Pluz size lines. Sustainable and recycled natural fiber sweaters.

Thought Clothing

Sizes UK 8- UK 18. Wool, hemp, and cotton sweaters and cardigans.

Krochet Kids

Sizes XS-L. Fair trade sweaters, sweatshirts, and cardigans.

Indigenous Designs

Sizes XS-L. Cotton, alpaca, and wool knitwear.

People Tree

Sizes XS-L. Fair trade wool and organic cotton sweaters.

ABLE

Sizes XS-XL. Cotton french terry sweaters in modern shapes.

guide to sustainable sweaters and outerwear

OUTERWEAR

Patagonia

Sizes XXS-XL. High tech winter gear made with recycled materials.

Everlane

Sizes 00-12. Wool and puffer coats made with high quality materials in regulated factories. I'm wearing their Puffer Coat in this post (Everlane sent a press sample to review).

Nomads

Sizes UK 8-UK 18. Dressy cotton and velvet coats.

Eileen Fisher

Sizes XS-XL. Wool, alpaca, and puffer coats

Vaute Couture

Sizes XS-XXL. Organic and recycled vegan coats.

NEED WOOL SOCKS?
I recommend Maggie's Organics

My Everlane Puffer Coat Review

Size: Small
Typical Size: Small

I like this oversized puffer coat a lot. The arms are long enough, it doesn't feel constricting in the shoulders, and it keeps me warm (using a military-approved, animal free down alternative). I tried this in 35 degree weather and felt quite comfortable. Plus, unlike my old puffer coat, the zipper isn't broken! I would recommend this if you're average height or taller (I'm 5'7") and normally have issues with tight shoulders and too-short sleeves. The only thing I would change is the pockets - they would be better if they were slanted toward the side because my hands get cold easily and I always intend to use the pockets for added warmth. These are still useable, but not as comfortable as a slanted pocket would be.

guide to sustainable sweaters and outerwear

The Moral Wardrobe: Fashion Activist

fashion activist - fair trade fashion show fashion activist - fair trade fashion show fashion activist - fair trade fashion show fashion activist - fair trade fashion showfashion activist - fair trade fashion show
Ethical Details: Tee - c/o Bead & Reel via Fair Trade Fashion Show; Jeans - #30wears; Earrings - c/o Sela Designs

Fashion Activist

What does it mean to be a fashion activist? For me, it means a couple of things...
  1. I want my everyday actions and political decisions to be based in progressive activism. In this way, I am an activist who happens to enjoy fashion. It is not incongruous to be someone who cares deeply about the world and also enjoys expressing self expression through clothing. 
  2. I am an advocate for change in the fashion industry. I believe that my individual decisions impact other people's individual decisions, and that the way I shop should be part of my broader social justice goals. 
We may not literally change the world through conscious consumerism, but I think the small stories and quiet ways we progress toward positive change give us hope in a world that is desperate for it. I have learned so much about what it means to be an advocate and ally, about white privilege and imperialism, and about Capitalism's ugly removal of the collectivism we long for at a biological level. I've learned this through the framework of fashion activism and I am thankful for this on-the-ground training. 

The world needs more advocates with open arms and listening ears. I'm a fashion activist because it's one way to advocate, and it's teaching me how to advocate in other areas of my life.

I was sent this t-shirt by the Fair Trade Fashion Show, a nonprofit event that features fair, eco-friendly, vegan, and women-owned, and POC-ownded fashion for the benefit of anti-human trafficking agencies. You can learn more about it here

The Moral Wardrobe: Blending In & Sticking Out

SAYA DesignsSAYA Designs SAYA Designs Birkenstock boots SAYA Designs hair sticks
Ethical Details: Top - c/o ABLE; Cardigan - c/o Liz Alig (worn here); Jeans - #30wears; Boots - Birkenstock; Hair Sticks - c/o SAYA Designs

Navy and mustard is one of my favorite color combinations, but I especially love mustard when it blends in with the fall leaves. Last weekend, I went a little wild taking blog photos because I could sense that it was probably peak leaf time. This week has been dark and rainy and the trees are responding by rapidly dropping all of their leaves. Trees are just incredible to me: at once fragile and strong, controlled by outside forces and totally self assured. I know there's probably a limit to how much I can anthropomorphize them without sounding ridiculous, but I'm very thankful for trees for being the strong, silent type in a world full of noise.

This happens to be the perfect segue (a completely unintentional one, I swear) to talking about these hair sticks. SAYA Designs' hair pieces are made of hardwood salvaged from old Indonesian plantations. They're handcrafted by Balinese artisans. Using recycled wood ensures that slow growth hardwood forests are not over-harvested, but SAYA also partners with GAYA in central Java to plant native trees in protected forests. It's tree love in a circular economy.

Learn more about SAYA Designs here. Shop hair sticks here.

P.S. Since my hair is short and straight, I had to use a couple bobby pins to secure my bun. If you have longer or textured hair, the sticks and other hair pieces will stay in place on their own.

5 Self Care Tips for Coping with Winter Darkness

Bleak days are here again. 

I hate to be melodramatic, but short, dark days are hard on me. I'm tired, agitated, and self conscious. I feel unsettled and experience mood swings. This is all relatively new for me, having grown up in the Sunshine State, but I've developed a few coping mechanisms to make these next few months a little easier.

And on the particularly bad days, I remind myself that the days won't always be getting shorter! The sun will shine again.

1. Get house plants

I live in a basement apartment, so outdoor views are limited. I've found that my house feels a little more like a cozy Hobbit Hole when it's full of plants. My current favorites are succulents, like Aloe, and a Cat Palm our old neighbors gave us when they moved.

It's not just seeing green plants that calms me, I've made a ritual out of carefully tending to them, moving around the house, inspecting new growth, and adjusting them so they get the sunlight they need. Plus, plants filter air, making it more oxygen rich and cleaner overall. They also release up to 97% of water they take in, acting as a natural humidifier.

2. Use a SAD lamp

If the darker months mess with your mood, you might want to sit next to some artificial sunshine each day. Though not a perfect solution, light therapy can offer relief from seasonal depression if used consistently. I have mild Seasonal Affective Disorder and this will be my first year using a lamp each day, so I'll let you know how I feel. (I'm using this one, which I purchased secondhand.)

Note: This is by no means a cure all. If you have severe anxiety or depression symptoms, or are having trouble coping with mood swings, see your doctor. 

3. Unplug from social media

Heavy social media use is associated with depression and, according to this alarming article, even developers of these addictive platforms are distancing themselves from them.

Install a plugin to remove your Facebook Feed, uninstall apps from your phone, and seek out real life connections. I use the News Feed Eradicator extension for Google Chrome - it stops the mindless scrolling immediately.

4. Read a good book

Lose yourself in a narrative. For really good, therapeutic reading, I recommend memoirs, YA science-fiction, and anything else that can transport you somewhere else. I enjoyed Scott Sigler's Generations Trilogy and am currently working through Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.

5. Be kind to yourself

This has been the key to successfully getting through the dark months for me. It's ok that you're feeling tired and agitated. It's not your fault. Breathe deeply, cuddle under a blanket, be nice to yourself.

I like to make myself a hot cup of chai each day when I get home from work. The kick of caffeine energizes me enough to finish up what I need to do for the day and the warm spicy-ness is always an indulgent treat.


What are your tips for handling the winter blues?


Photos: Artur Rutkowski and Danielle Dolson on Unsplash

Everlane Denim Review: High Rise Skinny and Modern Boyfriend

Everlane Denim Review High Rise Skinny and Modern Boyfriend
Featuring a delightful (& ridiculous) vintage hat!

Everlane recently came out with a Denim line produced in a factory that recycles 98% of water used in production, air dries their denim, and turns the "sludge" byproduct into bricks for affordable housing in Vietnam. I know of no other denim brand with production as eco-friendly as their's, so I was eager to try it out.

I originally purchased just one pair: the High Rise Skinny in Dark Indigo in my normal size 28.

They were too tight at the hip and waist, so they went back. But by the time I went to reorder more, everything was sold out, so I patiently waited until their recent restock to purchase a larger size. While I was at it, I also purchased the Boyfriend Jean in Mid Blue in a size 28.

Everlane Denim Review High Rise Skinny and Modern BoyfriendEverlane Denim Review High Rise Skinny and Modern Boyfriend
Ethical Details: Sweater - old; Jeans - Everlane; Shoes - Julia Bo

High Rise Skinny in Dark Indigo

Size Ordered: 29
Usual Size: 28
Measurements: 28" waist, 39" hips, 5'7" height

I've been having body image issues after gaining 6 pounds over the last few months, so discovering I didn't fit in my typical size was a bit of a blow to my self esteem.  It also threw me for a loop because Andrea at Seasons + Salt said that the jeans fit 1-2 sizes too big on her. But here's what I realized: it's not just weight gain, it's about rise.

The area between my crotch and waist is longer than "standard." That's always been the case, but it wasn't until a reader commented on my mom jeans post that I even considered that when shopping for denim and pants. I gravitate toward high rise partly because they fit me more like mid-rise. But if they're riding lower on my waist than intended, there's bound to be a fit issue.

The Size 29 fits me pretty well. They're a tad wide at the waistband, but tight at the hips. This is normal for me since I'm "pear shaped." The length is really good, especially for winter when I don't want exposed skin. They're also reasonably comfortable when I sit, though they do pull a bit at the butt and feel slightly tight at my knees. They loosen slightly with wear without losing their shape. The fit is skinny without being skin tight - I think that makes them more timeless.

Verdict: Probably Keeping
  Everlane Denim Review High Rise Skinny and Modern BoyfriendEverlane Denim Review High Rise Skinny and Modern BoyfriendEverlane Denim Review High Rise Skinny and Modern Boyfriend
Ethical Details: Top - Everlane; Jeans - Everlane; Cardigan and Hat - thrifted; Shoes - Julia Bo

Modern Boyfriend in Mid Blue

Size Ordered: 28
Usual Size: 28
Measurements: 28" waist, 39" hips, 5'7" height

When I first tried these on, I didn't like them. I put them on after eating a big meal at the end of the day and tried to pull them up to my natural waist and the fit was just...off.

But after wearing them around the house and pairing them with clothes, I think I might keep them. You can see that the model on the site wears these slung low. The rise is just as high as the skinny jeans, but they're intended to sit lower on the hips for a laid back look. I think it's best to wear them this way because the hip proportion and length is intended for a lower fit.

I don't need these like I need dark wash jeans, but I do feel effortlessly cool in them. And getting a bit of confidence back about my body is a good thing.

Verdict: Probably Keeping

My fit suggestions, if you're shaped like me

Size up in the skinny jeans and take your normal size in the boyfriend jeans. Also, remember that these are made of heavier weight denim with an almost vintage feel, so they're not as comfortable or flexible as jeggings.

Update: After wearing each pair a few times, I've decided to let them go. For my comfort level, these are just a bit too stiff. If you prefer thicker denim, though, these might still be for you.

Shop Denim here.


In case you're wondering, I'm not hoarding jeans. I consigned the ill-fitting mom jeans and plan on selling the other pairs of jeans I purchased this season because they fall down on my waist. Jeans shopping is the worst!