The hardest part about being an informed consumption is the informed part. It’s so much easier to just pick up something cute, and buy it. But being an informed consumer is important (if you want to know more, check our my Earth Day post!) To make it just a little easier, the POST method can help you decide if something is worth your money.
Price. I’m always looking for a deal. Sales, the clearance section, 10% off- all music to my ears. But buying something too cheaply can also be an issue. If something only costs $14.99 to begin with, and its been marked up twice its original price, that leaves you with around $7.50 for the factory wages, shipping, the materials, and duties. But, if it’s 14.99, it’s probably been mass marketed, so there are a LOT of that garment on the market, and more money can go to the people making it. However, that also means that the factory is probably less safe, because most mass marketed pieces are produced overseas in unsafe factories that pay their workers next to nothing. Plus, if its cheap, whatever its made of (more on that later!) is also super cheap, and more likely to wear out fast. On the flip side, if something is super expensive, that means that you’re in part paying for a brand name, and while the originality of that brand should be applauded, paying for a big “Gucci” label isn’t the most important. The best way to proceed here is to look for sellers that you feel comfortable supporting (ethical fashion exists at all price points!) and look for deals there.
Origins. Where was it made? Supporting local (even if local means California for people in Boston) businesses is important. Shipping is expensive, and it uses a lot of fossil fuels. Whenever possible, shop for something local. Plus, if its made overseas in a developing country, it’s more likely to have been created in a sweatshop. Look and see if the company you’re buying from has an info section on its factories. That way, you can get a better idea of what you’re supporting.
Seller. This is one of the hardest, because almost every single retailer has some issues. Whenever possible, try to support companies that are green, pay living wages, and make high quality products. Also, knock offs don’t benefit creativity, so keep that in mind. You have to decide what you’re comfortable supporting.
Textiles. Cotton uses an obscene amount of water to produce, but its soft and makes beautiful clothing. Bamboo grows very fast, and is incredibly soft, but often more expensive. Get to know the properties of different textiles, so that when you’re buying, you can make a good choice. Whenever you can, go for better quality textiles (most often, if it feels nice, it’s better quality). This will ensure a piece lasts longer.
There you have it! The POST method is simple and informative if used. Three cheers for informed consumption!