Meet an Ethical Blogger: Jessica

I’m excited to introduce you to Jessica, author of the blog Notes From A Thoughtful Life! Jessica does an amazing job of providing practical tips that make ethical shopping a realistic pursuit, not just an idealistic dream.

Notes From A Thoughtful Life title image

Fair for All: Describe the focus of your blog.

Jessica: Notes From A Thoughtful Life is a blog about embracing our everyday normal life and making it count. I love that quote by mother Teresa that says “live simply so that others may simply live”. The idea that what we do, how we live, is important and that we can use it to bring life to others is something I love. So I write about fair trade, living thoughtfully and really, just grace, because I am still learning how to live what I write about!

Why do you choose to write about these topics? What motivates you to pursue an ethical lifestyle?

I first learned about sweatshops and unethical labor in the clothing industry years ago and slowly started changing some of my buying habits since then but honestly, I had a hard time knowing where to start. The more I learned the more I changed and the more I realized that if I was having a difficult time figuring out where to start, then maybe others were too. That inspired me to write the blog, especially The Ethical List, a list I keep of all the fair and ethical companies I have discovered. Knowing that the clothes and other things I buy, like coffee and such, is made by people who are paid fairly is really enough motivation in an of itself!

How we live is important and we can use it to bring life to others.

What makes a product or company ethical to you? When you’re making a purchase or deciding what to write about, what principles or criteria guide your decision?

When I shop online I almost always read the company’s about page and find out what I can about their sourcing policies. It’s important to me that companies are clear and honest about how they create and source their products. I also Google them with “sweatshop” or “labor violations” in the search terms to see if they actually do what they say they do. I buy secondhand and used whenever possible. Most importantly, I try not to be too hardcore and strict about ethical guidelines because in reality I know I won’t be able to always buy fair trade or thrift but I do want to make the best decision I can based on my options. If you can’t afford or find a fair and ethical product, second best is okay too. Target and a few other major companies, while not winning any awards, are at least attempting to maintain a more ethical supply chain.

What are your top 3 favorite ethical shopping brands or websites?

Oh my gosh, so many good ones!  Everlane, for their reasonably priced and super comfy tees. Ten Thousand Villages, because they are the first fair trade store I ever shopped at way back when I was a little girl. I still love that store. And  I have many things from that store, even from when I was a little girl. And Shea Moisture, for having some of the best smelling ethically-sourced bar soap ever.

Here are some recent posts from Notes From A Thoughtful Life:

For more ethical blog recommendations, check out the rest of our Meet an Ethical Blogger series or visit the Resources page.

Hey, Dude: Ethical Clothing for Men

A male friend recently commented on the lack of resources for men on Fair for All. While the site is definitely geared toward women, I realized it has been quite a while since we’ve posted a guide about ethical gifts for dudes. Plus we certainly don’t want to exclude any men who may be checking us out as well. (Welcome, gentlemen!)

So whether you’re a lady buying for a gent, or a gent looking to get into the ethical shopping game, I present a compendium of ethical clothing options for men!

Ethical Men's Clothing dress clothes

*Sites marked with a star offer products for women as well.

Zady*

Shown above: Navy Moriera Pullover (1)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus jackets and accessories.
  • Ethics: Zady’s overall missions is to offer products with solid construction, the best materials, the lowest environmental footprint, the highest labor standards and timeless style. Products fall into one of several categories such as handmade, made in USA, and sustainable.
  • Price point: Products are on the pricier side—they’re investment pieces built to last.
  • Bonus: Free shipping and returns on any size order.

Apolis

Shown above: Washed Gingham Broadcloth Button Down (2)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus jackets, accessories, shoes and even swim trunks.
  • Ethics: B Corporation. Their mission is “advocacy through industry.”
  • Price point: Products are on the pricier side—they’re investment pieces built to last.

Bluff Works

Shown above: Bluff Works pants in Velvet Brown (3)

  • Offerings: Slacks
  • Ethics: Manufactured in NYC from imported wrinkle-resistant polyester designed to require minimal washing and no ironing, resulting in a lower environmental impact.
  • Price point: Accessible pricing.
  • Bonus: Available in one-inch size increments and multiple inseams for a perfect fit.

Accompany*

Shown above: Canchito Leather Wallet (4)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus shorts, sweaters, sweatshirts, and accessories.
  • Ethics: Accompany seeks to alter the systems that perpetuate poverty around the world. All products fall are artisan-made, fair trade, or benefit a philanthropic mission.
  • Price point: Products are on the pricier side—they’re investment pieces built to last.

Modavanti*

Shown above: William Brown Shoe (5)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus outerwear, accessories and shoes.
  • Ethics: Filter by values you care about such as fair trade, made in USA, and environmental impact.
  • Price point: Wide range of prices from everyday affordable to investment pieces.

 

Ethical Men's Clothing casual clothing

Appalatch*

Shown above: Shawl Collar Sweater (1)

  • Offerings: Shirts and sweaters
  • Ethics: Made 100% in USA from raw materials to finished piece
  • Price point: Products are on the pricier side—they’re investment pieces built to last.

Fair Indigo*

Shown above: Midweight Fair Trade Organic Crew Neck T-shirt (2)

  • Offerings: Casual shirts, sweaters, accessories.
  • Ethics: Products are fair trade or made in the USA.
  • Price point: Accessible.

Flint & Tinder*

Shown above: Raw Selvedge Slim Jeans (3)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus accessories, underwear, and a hoodie that is guaranteed to last for 10 years.
  • Ethics: All products are made in the USA and built to last.
  • Price point: Ranges between accessible and investment pieces. Currently running a big sale with major discounts on select items.

American Apparel*

Shown above: Unisex Tennis Shoe in Cordoban (4)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus shorts, sweaters, sweatshirts, swimwear, underwear, shoes, accessories.
  • Ethics: Made in the USA, sweatshop-free. American Apparel also takes steps to minimize their environmental impact and their operation is virtually landfill-free.
  • Price point: Moderately accessible prices.

PACT*

Shown above: Men’s Everyday White Socks (5)

  • Offerings: Tees, underwear, socks, and hoodies made primarily of organic cotton.
  • Ethics: Many products are made in a Fair Trade Certified factory. B Corporation.
  • Price point: Very accessible prices.

For more ethical shopping sources for men, check out these previous posts (the resources listed are good for general shopping too, not just dads and weddings):

Let us know if you’d like to see more resources for men in the future!

Get to Know Las Casas, Guatemalan Fair Trade

Las Casas table at the Manthan International Market

This summer I attended the Manthan International Market in downtown Indianapolis with the intent of sampling tasty foods of the world. Imagine my excitement when there turned out to be several fair trade vendors there as well! I was especially excited to meet David Durica of Las Casas, a vendor I’d never heard of before. I learned that Las Casas is fairly new to the Indianapolis fair trade scene and focuses specifically on sharing the beautiful culture of Guatemala.

I invited David to share more about Las Casas and the work they are doing in Guatemala and in the local Indy area.

Fair for All: Tell us about how Las Casas started.
Las Casas: My wife, Jenny, and I lived in Guatemala for a year, and while there we developed a deep respect for Guatemala’s people and culture. Towards the end of our time, we started brainstorming ways to sustain our relationships and maintain our commitment to the people long-term. After experiencing the struggles and issues throughout Guatemala – which include: lack of education and jobs, malnutrition, and a tragic history of oppression – we began identifying the existing strengths and skills among the people. We saw that the artisans were doing amazing work but they needed access to outside markets and fair wages. The need for Fair Trade was identified by realizing that if people matter, then the way we trade should matter.

Guatemalan artisan with table of jewelry

Describe your mission.
As a social enterprise, we seek to display cultural beauty, pursue fairness, and advocate for truth and reconciliation. We believe Fair Trade is a reconciled way of living for us as consumers. We view Las Casas as both a journey and a destination, a means and an end. The journey aspect is tangible by supporting fair trade and advocating alongside the indigenous artisans. This part of the mission puts fair trade merchandise into the hands of consumers. The destination is why we take part in the journey, which involves an intangible mission to reconcile trade by valuing people over product. Altogether, we hope to build a bridge with artisans living in a completely different reality.

What is it about Guatemala that makes that country so special to you?
We’ve always been drawn to Guatemala ever since our first short-term missions trip there in 2007. The country is vibrant with rich, cultural traditions and indigenous Mayan people who inspire us with their work ethic, commitment to family, and generous hospitality. More so than we’d experienced elsewhere, the indigenous population strive to maintain their ancient way of life, including their art of back-strap weaving, which is such a testament to their values.

During our time living there in 2011, we couldn’t help but get to know local artisans. We had nothing but respect for the work that they do, and were impassioned to co-develop an avenue of support with them, their families, and their community. Thus, we started this Fair Trade venture.

Guatemalan artisan weaving

The product that caught my eye the most at your booth at the market was the Guatop shoes. They are completely rad. Can you tell us more about how the design of the Guatops came to be, how they are made, and where people can get them?
You can’t miss the GuaTops, right?! These shoes are made of authentic indigenous patterns from Mayan villages throughout Guatemala. The textiles are back-strap woven, then hand-stitched into a pre-cut pattern to form the shoe. The fabric is then complemented by genuine leather, which is sourced from the coast of Guatemala.

Pretty unique, right? But we’re actually still in development of our GuaTops. Everything we’ve offered thus far was beta testing and samples. Because of the handmade dynamic, it’s been difficult to offer GuaTops anywhere other than in person, which is mostly at events in the Indianapolis area. We post some pictures of the shoes online, but don’t actually sell them online yet. The best way to get a pair would be to email us your general size and we can send you some pictures of our available inventory that would be in your approximate range. Then we’d connect somewhere so you can try them on!

GuaTops shoe

What’s your favorite product that you offer, or a new product you are excited about?
Part of our mission is to support a variety of indigenous artisan groups. With that being said, the groups and individuals we’re supporting come from varying levels. Some are paralyzed by poverty, so our work with them focuses on product development, creating savings, and long-term vision to lift their families out of poverty. Other groups are well equipped and have quarterly development workshops on their own.

So based on that, our newest excitement comes from a grassroots cooperative in Nahuala (a very rural village). Previously they were only making raw fabrics, so they’re brand new to the world of finished goods. Exclusively for Las Casas, they’re now making Snap Bags. These handy textile pouches feature a clasp made from a measuring tape…it naturally snaps back into place. We’re very inspired by their initiative and ability to develop concepts and product ideas.

Guatemalan artisans with Las Casas snap bags

Are your products available in any physical stores/locations, or just online?
Primarily, our products are sold at local events (farmer’s markets, craft shows, and festivals). We also list limited-inventory on our website with an online store. Throughout different times of the year we’ll also host house parties in central Indiana, offering hosts 50% off as our appreciation for the support to expand our market.

We’re developing a plan to open our own storefront. We project to be situated with a Grand Opening in 1-2 years.

Are you members of any fair trade organizations or certifications?
Las Casas is not certified through any fair trade organizations. However, half of the cooperatives we’re supporting have their own fair trade certification. The other half that we support represent family owned businesses or individuals that are not formally certified, nor have they had the resources to do so at this time…which is exactly why we’re working with them: to empower them and provide opportunities for development, such as certification.

What’s next for Las Casas?
We’re extremely excited for our brand new project called #BeReconciled. We were awarded our first-ever Community Action Grant in November 2014 to implement a local project in Indianapolis that will facilitate dialogue in diverse community settings resulting in a public art installation.

#BeReconciled title image

As we gear up for #BeReconciled, we’re also launching an Indiegogo campaign to fundraise support with the goal of opening the storefront venue where we’ll offer Las Casas fair trade retail merchandise alongside the #BeReconciled Art Gallery. Once this storefront is secured, we’ll build towards plans to introduce the third and final component to the business, a small Guatemalan café. Check out more details on “what’s next” on our campaign page.

Thanks to David for sharing the Las Casas story!

Ethical Holiday Shopping Sources

Holiday shopping season snuck up on me more than usual this year. In the past I’ve been a proactive early shopper, but this year I feel like my mind had barely left Halloweentown when boom! It’s late November and I have exactly zero gifts!

Are you in the same boat as me? Never fear! We’ve still got a month, and there are plenty of ethical retailers with great selections of gifts for everyone on your list. Here are some resources to get you started:

Fair Trade Federation Holiday Guide 2014 cover

Fair Trade Federation Holiday Gift Guide 2014

This online catalog features gifts from a plethora of Fair Trade Federation members. Click the link button on anything that catches your eye to be taken directly to the page on the seller’s site where you can buy it.
 
Fair Tuesday - December 2, 2014

Fair Tuesday

Fair Tuesday is an ethical shopping movement in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday to feature fair trade, ethical, and eco-friendly brands. Visit the Buy/Shop section of the Fair Tuesday website for a directory of participating retailers, many of whom are offering significant discount codes—I spot checked a few and saw numbers like 20% off, 25% off, 30% off… Definitely check here if you like the thrill of a deal!
 

SERRV fall 2014 catalog cover

SERRV

One of my favorite places to look for fair trade gifts. I love their handy collections like Gifts for Him, Gift BasketsGifts Under $30 and more.
 

Ten Thousand Villages holiday gift finder

Ten Thousand Villages

Another fair trade site with a huge variety of gifts. Use their Gift Finder to find just the right thing for friends, teachers, coworkers, kids and more. They also have an option to filter by price point, so you can find gifts that fit your budget.
 

If you’re local to central Indiana or Columbus, OH, I highly recommend making Global Gifts a stop on your holiday shopping circuit. Not only is it a more pleasant shopping environment than a crowded, noisy mall (free coffee samples, anyone?), but you’re bound to find great gifts, stocking stuffers, or even holiday decorations for your own home. And all of their items are made by artisans who are treated fairly.

In this season of giving, your gift choices have the power to improve the lives of disadvantaged people around the world. You may be in the habit of making charitable donations this time of year, but you can also help end poverty by supporting fair trade. As a system that provides market access and equitable business relationships, fair trade enables artisans to earn a sustainable income to support themselves and their families, reducing dependence on charitable aid. That’s a happy holiday for everyone involved.

Meet an Ethical Blogger: Dominique

We’re continuing our Meet an Ethical Blogger series with Dominique from Let’s Be Fair! I’m proud to be a member with Dominique in the Ethical Writers Coalition. Check out that group for even more fabulous ethical bloggers!

Let's Be Fair blog header

Fair for All: Describe the focus of your blog.

Dominique: Let’s Be Fair is simply about thoughtful living. It’s being mindful about the everyday choices we make. We focus on fairly made, ethically sourced, life impacting goods that better the lives of the makers and consumers.

Why do you choose to write about these topics? What motivates you to pursue an ethical lifestyle?

I think it was Mother Theresa that said “There are no great things. Only small things with great love.” We live in a time where (whether we want to admit it or not) there is an overwhelming desire to be famous, to be known. We see people doing extraordinary things and want to be a part of something extraordinary. However, I believe the way that we can create the most change is by living each moment with integrity. Integrity happens when we align all of our choices with the values that we advertise. So if I say I value honesty, I need to strive be honest in all things, not just the easy things. If I say I value justice and love, I need to strive to live out those values in all things. So serving children in Africa is an act of love but it is not greater than serving my neighbor. Integrity doesn’t categorize, our values should be reflected across our whole lifestyle. So if I give money and time to the work of eradicating slavery, how can I then purchase products that promote slave labor and abuse? My desire to be a woman of integrity is very motivating to me. I fail a lot. I also am motivated by my passion for orphan care and ending human trafficking. Poverty is a major contributor to the global orphan and human trafficking crisis. It is also, in many ways, preventable. I believe that treating people fairly, not with ‘charity’ but simply fairly, gives families and communities more resources and more of an ability to care for the children in their communities the way they’d hope to care for them.  Finally, my husband is a major source of motivation. He’s a man of integrity. He’ll totally challenge my impulse buying and ask “oh, is there not a place we can find that ethically?” I love him for that. This is a hard lifestyle change to make without accountability.

Live each moment with integrity

What makes a product or company ethical to you? When you’re making a purchase or deciding what to write about, what principles or criteria guide your decision?

Such a good question! The first question I ask is “are people being treated with respect?” This is a hard, hard question to know the answer too. On their website, most large companies have some kind of legal “we use third party investigators to ensure there is no slave labor”…blah blah blah. That doesn’t do it for me. I need to hear that companies:

  1.  Know where their products are coming from
  2.  Know who is making the product
  3. Put forth reasonable effort to make sure that the people involved in the sourcing and making those products are being treated with respect and being paid fairly.

This might not seem like difficult criteria but unfortunately most of the big brands don’t spend any significant time or resources making sure they could answer these questions well. Whenever these brands get called out for unethical treatment of workers they always start by saying “we didn’t know.” That’s like saying a bunch of hurtful things to someone and then saying you “didn’t mean to hurt their feelings.” Just because you chose to ignore the potentially damaging results doesn’t excuse your responsibility.

After that question I look for key words such as B Certified, Direct Trade, Fair Trade Certified and Made In The USA. These distinctions don’t make them perfect but there is at least some sort of accountability and effort to doing things ethically.

The companies that get my attention the most are companies that are fully invested into the lives of their workers and their communities. There are so many incredible, hardworking artisans around the world and they don’t need a handout. They need a market! Brands that help artisans get the resources they need to run their business and then help them establish a sustainable market in which to sell those items are a major win with me.

What are your top 3 favorite ethical shopping brands or websites?

Oh gosh three?! Okay if I had an unlimited budget and if I could only shop at three stores for the rest of my life I’d pick People Tree for clothing, The Little Market for home goods and gifts and Whole Foods Markets for food and personal care. I could probably find everything else I needed second-hand somewhere.

Three brands I really admire are Parker Clay, Prosperity Candle and Alaffia. I just love their business models, professionalism and their sincerity.

Here are some recent posts from Let’s Be Fair to check out:

For more ethical blog recommendations, check out the rest of our Meet an Ethical Blogger series or visit the Resources page.

Make It Work: Elbow Patches

A few weeks ago I posted some in-progress photos of my elbow patches DIY project. I’m finally done and I’m stoked about the finished product!

Front view of elbow patches

Back view of elbow patches

I used fabric from my extra fabric stash (this was specifically from an old polo shirt) and sewed the patches on by hand. Sewing the patches on took about two hours. It was a little awkward to find a way to sew onto the sleeve without accidentally sewing the sleeve shut, but I eventually got a system down. Putting a piece of paper inside the sleeve as a barrier helped me avoid catching the other side of the sleeve.

Elbow patches closeup

If you’re thinking about trying some upcycling/DIY projects, I recommend starting your own fabric stash. Mine is composed primarily of old shirts that were unfit for donation because of stains or because I’d already cut off pieces. I’ve used extra fabric to create pillow stuffing, parts of Halloween costumes, and now these patches.

I’m excited to have my white cardigan back in commission. Because I used a neutral fabric for the patches, I think I’ll be able to wear it with most of the things I wore it with before. And now if the other sleeve develops a hole, no one will know because it’s already patched! *fist-bump-and-explode*

Have you ever saved an article of clothing with a DIY solution? And have you ever tried to take a photo of your own elbows? It’s not easy…

Ethical Brand Spotlight: Passion Lilie

Passion Lilie has been on my list of stores to check out for a while, and I finally got around to it this weekend. I like what I found!

Phoebe's Shirt and The Hepburn Skirt

Phoebe’s Shirt and The Hepburn Skirt

Passion Lilie offers women’s tops, bottoms, dresses and scarves, all of which are produced by a World Fair Trade Organization-certified artisan group in India. Their style is similar to Mata Traders: beautiful and bold block-printed fabrics, some retro influence, and simple shapes.

Felicity's Vintage Dress and Berry Arrow Dress

Felicity’s Vintage Dress and Berry Arrow Dress

I am all about these prints. Passion Lilie sources their fabric from fair trade cooperatives in India and aims to support traditional art forms like hand block printing and ikat dyeing. (Did you know the ikat process is similar to tie-dye? I didn’t!) Passion Lilie also works to reduce the environmental impact of their products by minimizing water and energy usage during production.

Passion Lilie’s collection is on the small side compared to some other brands we’ve featured, but I like that they maintain a relationship with one particular producer group and put their focus into improving that community and reviving that culture’s traditional arts. They’re a small business, but they’re creating a big impact through their commitment to their core beliefs and relationships.

Floral Ocean scarf, Fleur de Lis scarf, Pollock Purple scarf

Floral Ocean scarf, Fleur de Lis scarf, Pollock Purple scarf

As for the price point, Passion Lilie’s regular prices on clothing are a little more than I like to spend, but they do have several items on sale for about 15% off, which makes the prices easier for me to swallow. Compared to ultra-high-end ethical fashion brands like Amour Vert and British imports like People Tree, Passion Lilie’s prices are definitely within the realm of reason.

Shown above:

Which item is your favorite? I’m drawn to the Hepburn skirt as part of a cute workday outfit.

Check out the other posts in our Ethical Brand Spotlight series.

Personal Shopper: Ethical Phone Cases

This is post is by request of my dear bandmate Allison, who is helping one of her friends on a quest for a totally ethical phone cover. She specifically wants a case that can be fully traced as ethical (as opposed to a mass-produced case with a few rhinestones glued on that then gets labeled as “handmade”). I put on my Googling hat and got to work!

Not knowing anything about the actual phone in question, I chose a smattering of different sizes to show. Most of the brands/makers shown below have cases for other phone sizes as well, so definitely click through to find other options if you’re in the market.

Fair trade phone cases

Fair trade phone cases

Made by artisan groups for fair pay in good conditions.

Eco-friendly phone cases

Eco-friendly phone cases

Made in developed countries out of sustainable materials.

Handmade phone cases

Handmade phone cases

Made by individuals or small businesses in developed countries.

I’m not sure what’s up with Europe making so many dope phone cases, but I love all of the handmade ones, especially those little monsters! Which case is your favorite? How do you prefer to protect your phone?

P.S. On a phone-related note, the Fair Phone has actually been produced now! It’s only available in Europe, but I’m stoked that a company is making serious strides toward ethical phone production. Read about their current projects, from conflict-free mining to extending the smartphone’s lifecycle, on the Fair Phone roadmap.

Meet an Ethical Blogger: Jamillah

Today we’re introducing you to another inspiring ethical blogger, Jamillah from Made-to-Travel!

Made-to-Travel blog banner

Fair for All: Describe the focus of your blog.

Jamillah: I always say Made-to-Travel is a place for ethical shopping and happy things. :)

Why do you choose to write about these topics? What motivates you to pursue an ethical lifestyle?

I choose to write about ethical shopping because I really know it’s possible to find any wanted item ethically and I want my readers to be inspired to buy ethically for their needs for the next season and every season! So when it comes to writing ethical shopping posts I really think of what is going to be the next need for my reader, that’s usually a new trend or a seasonal item.

The other features on Made-to-Travel: Good Habits, Smile Files, DIYS, etc., are all topics I gravitate to naturally in my life but also, while I love promoting ethical shopping and all these wonderful ethical brands, I don’t want to write about retail all the time. There are so many wonderful things to share in this world and I want to do that too! So these posts nicely break that rhythm for me while still providing my readers content I really think they’ll enjoy and benefit from.

My motivation to live an ethical lifestyle really all began with thinking about my purchases a little differently. Every single thing we buy has a story and buying from brands that continue to take advantage of lax laws, developing countries, and less fortunate people helps continue that story…and I strongly believe that’s true. So I made the decision to really only purchase from places where I believe in their story. My purchases now all help continue a story of empowerment and the power of purchasing creating a better world and doing that makes me feel great. :)

Quote from Jamillah, blogger at Made-to-Travel

What makes a product or company ethical to you? When you’re making a purchase or deciding what to write about, what principles or criteria guide your decision?

First and foremost a company has to have ethical manufacturing practices for their work force, that means fair pay, working conditions, and hours. I do a lot of reading of manufacturers’ labor standards, if they’re fair trade, or if they’re not I see what 3rd party groups audit their standards, how they pick their factories, I see where a product is made, I see what people have been saying about them…and if I’m unsure about a policy I ask—so easy to just ask! I also don’t buy new leather…the only leather I buy is vintage or upcycled leather (i.e. reuse/remnants, bi-products from food industry etc.). But really the guiding principle for me is that a brand is kind to people. That will always always be priority number one.

What are your top 3 favorite ethical shopping brands or websites?

MY GAWSH—so hard this question!!! Bah! Okay I’m sorry I’m cheating and not limiting myself to 3! Sorry!

For clothing ASOS Africa is one of the first brands I featured on Made-to-Travel and is still one of my super favorites. I really love EVERYTHING KowTow makes super modern, clean, and easy. If you look at my internet history I stalk Clover Canyon in a real way, their prints are just so beautiful and everything is made in the USA—I haven’t shopped there YET, but I’m definitely saving for a special piece from them. And lastly I really really love the modern classic pieces coming from Everlane.

For shoes I am obsessed with Melissa Shoes and Cri de Couer—they both have a nice mix of trendy and classic shoe styles plus they’re cruelty free with ethical manufacturing practices!

Here are some recent posts from Made-to-Travel to check out:

For more ethical blog recommendations, check out the rest of our Meet an Ethical Blogger series or visit the Resources page.

Make it Work: Upcycling & DIY

Beyond just making new purchases ethically, over the last year or so I have become interested in the idea of only making purchases that are necessary. I’ve become much better at avoiding thrift store impulse buys, and I discovered a local store that sells donated craft supplies (shout out to Indy Upcycle!), which has piqued my interest in upcycling and other crafty DIY projects.

The last time I took a bag of stuff to the thrift store to donate it, I was overwhelmed by the immense pile of donations in the back that had yet to be processed. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of my stuff sitting in that pile for months before making it to the sales floor—I had good stuff in there! That got me thinking about how often I had donated to Goodwill recently and if there was another way I could handle items I did not want for one reason or another. That was when I started thinking about tailoring and upcycling. My goal for the immediate future is to try to work with what I already have, instead of running out to Goodwill to get something new.

Green button-down shirt tailored

The shirt post-tailoring. Note how I was too lazy to make a new bobbin with green thread and used black for some of it instead. Not pictured are all the seams I had to rip out and do over.

I recently had a green button-down shirt that I liked but was too big. It was supposed to be fitted and tailored but it had a bunch of extra fabric flopping around. I thought about donating it, but then I thought, “If this shirt fit, I would actually be fine with it. Can I make it fit?”

After a three-hour marathon sewing session (I have very little sewing knowledge, so there was lots of trial and error), I was successful! The shirt now fits (at least more than it did before) and it’s one less thing I feel the need to get rid of. I like to think Tim Gunn would be proud of how I made it work.

On the heels of this success came another challenge: Last week I got a hole in the elbow of my white cardigan. A sweater with a hole in it isn’t a great donation, so I thought it was destined for my fabric scrap pile when I had a brilliant idea: elbow patches!

I’m only halfway through the project (okay, maybe a third of the way—all I’ve done is pin one patch), but I wanted to share my progress.

Elbow patch pinned onto sweater

I did sew the hole shut before I pinned on the patch. It’s really hard to pin an oval, by the way.

Have you done any tailoring or upcycling projects lately? Have you ever saved something from the scrap heap with a crafty solution?