It matters where your clothing is made, and who you buy it from…
Why buy Locally?
Buying locally reduces overall shipping costs: the cost in fuel, energy, and time (as well as money) shipping long distances requires. Shipping long distances requires more fuel, releases more toxicity into our air, and takes more time, which makes the overall costs of shipping long distances much higher than the dollar value indicates in my opinion. Think first of the time/money/energy it takes to ship an item from a factory in China, to a warehouse in the US, to a department store, and then to you. Alternatively, what if you bought directly from the manufacturer/designer who produces in your city, or your country? There’s no “middle-man” involved; you’re paying the exact cost that the designer/producer incurs to ship you the item, AND the overall costs in fuel, energy, and time are much lower. You may actually be paying the same dollar amount on shipping for items coming from farther away (or even getting “free” shipping), but when you take into account fuel consumption and environmental impact of flying something halfway around the world, and then making two more stops before it even gets to you, you’re really paying MUCH more.
Buying locally supports your community: Local designers and businesses invest in their communities by providing jobs, building infrastructure and participating in local events/charities. And the money you spend at an independent business in your community circulates longer IN your community than the same amount of money you would spend at a big-box chain. Local business owners have a vested interest in keeping their community clean and inviting, and many support local environmental initiatives.
Personal interaction with designers/business owners: Know who you’re buying from. Most of the time when you enter a small boutique or independently-owned shop, you’ll run into the owner there working. Business owners take tremendous pride in their operations and enjoy interacting with their customers – we, the customers, are important to them individually. Every sale makes a difference to a small business owner, and it is in their interest to provide not only the products you want, but excellent customer service to go along with it. Especially if they’re selling eco-friendly products, they probably care about the same issues you do, and are actively working towards making those changes; I definitely want to support that!
How can you buy locally?
Shop within your community from business owners who sell products made in your community, or at least in your country. Use websites like GenGreenLife to find local eco-friendly businesses.
Shop from local designers who also source locally – ask them where their clothing is manufactured, as well as where & from whom they purchase the components
Shop Online – search for local designers online and buy directly from them (shopping online doesn’t expend any fuel…or spew toxic fumes into the air either…). Even if the designer isn’t local to YOU, as long as they’re based in your same country, buying from them is much better than buying a mass-produced tee shirt manufactured in China.
**note about buying locally: buying locally from small, independent designers or sole proprietors is going to be more expensive. Period. As I’ve mentioned before, buying from independent designers is more expensive because they don’t produce in the quantities big fashion houses do, and many of their items are handmade, thereby increasing their costs to produce. Same goes for buying from locally-owned stores & suppliers. My answer for this, is to simply BUY LESS. If want you want to buy costs more (monetarily), buy less of it. It is not good for the environment, OR your wallet in the long run to buy a lot of trendy, low quality, fast fashion from Forever21, or cheap t-shirts that were made under questionable circumstances. Instead buy a $42 top that’s made in California, sweat-shop free, from organic cotton, designed by a mom of two. It will definitely last longer, and you’ll KNOW that you did the right thing.
Resources for buying locally:
etsy – search for designers in your city. Everything is handmade.
Petaline – a GREAT indie-boutique carrying designers from the Pacific Northwest
Supermarket – smaller than etsy, but very similar with many of the same designers.
Also, check our list of shopping links and search through our Designer List for local designers & boutiques.
There are also some exceptions to buying locally if you want to foster small business development in under-developed countries like Madagascar or Kenya, but for the most part, I still believe that buying closer to home is better for our environment, AND our communities.
PS…what do you think? share your thoughts and leave a comment!!
PSS…have you entered our Matt & Nat giveaway yet?? enter now if you’re an addict like me