If you ever tried to eat healthier, you are very likely to have come across the words "slow food" as opposed to "fast food".
Slow fashion, the alternative to fast fashion, advocates for similar principles as slow food. And so does slow shopping in general.
GOOD: quality, flavorsome and healthy food
CLEAN: production that does not harm the environment
FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers
Source: Slow Food International
The concept of slow shopping borrowa heavily from the Slow Food Movement. Founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy, Slow Food links pleasure and food with awareness and respoonsability. It defends biodiversity in our food supply, defends the need for consumers information and protects cultural identities tied to food.
Some elements of the slow shopper include old well-known tips such as: redesigning old items, shopping from smaller producers, making clothes and accessories at home and buying products that last longer. New ideas and product innovations are constantly redefining slow shopping (DIY for instance), so that giving a single definition would mean denying the evolving nature of the concept.
Still some old-fashioned tips to slow down your wardrobe are evergreen.
- Repair your clothes with a smile (it's easier than going shopping)
- Or ask stores about repair services: that may get them thinking
- Ask your friends for new ideas about how to wear the garments you already have: it's Always good to wear things in a new way
Source: Fletcher, "Slow Fashion", The Ecologist, 2007
We define ethical shopping in regards to three main pillars, aknowledging that a definitive definition of "ethical" is unrealistic, as what each individual considers ethical is subjective and depends on cultural and social factors.
Minimizing the environmental impact of manufacturing activities.
For treatment of waste-water, origin of dyes, pesticides & fertilizers used, and pollution agents generated by factories are factors that can be controlled and supervised, deliberately harming the environment when alternative techniques are known outlines a lack of corporate responsability.
Some talk about "sustainability" in a separate category to ethical purchasing, but the truth is that caring for sustainability and the enviroonment can be included in someone's ethical guidelines, which is why we believe that any effort to propose more environmentally sustainable business practices falls onto the ethical category as well.
Respecting fundamental human rights refardless of the location and legal system of a country.
Many of the discussions around this topic revolve around fair wages, appropriate and safe facilities, and general workers' health considerations. Since outsourcing has become a standard practice in the fashion industry, dealing with different countries' laws or lack of them is a real challenge for the companies that decide to manufacture abroad.
Deliberately disregarding people's basic rights just because they are in a different country where laws might be weaker or not enforced is a shady corporate behaviour, and many consumers make a statement by not shopping from such companies
Providing a quality service and transparent information about a product.
Providing complete data about any relevant detail of a product is an essential component of what we consider an ethical behaviour. Lying, distorting or hiding information is not tolerated, and brands should strive to find out consumers information needs and fulfill them the best way they can
Researching production methods, supply chains and company practices is time-consuming and impractical. Not to mention that many brands do not disclose their internal policies regarding labor or sustainability. Finding a balance where you buy only what you need and stay away from cheap, low-quality goods is a great way to start.