A Helpful Reminder To Keep Paying It Forward
Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
I'm sure no one here at Boston College would argue with me when I say we are all very lucky. No one needs to tell us that, as we have all been reminded a 100-plus times since entering BC, we are part of the 1 percent of the world lucky enough to attend college. We are men and women for others. We are BC. We all know the spiel. But recently I have found it troubling to watch the news, read the paper, or learn in class about all of the hardship and heartbreak that occurs in the world, while still spending hours picking out the perfect outfit or online shopping. I feel guilty doing these things when I know I could be out feeding the poor, fighting injustice, and curing disease (I have some lofty goals to say the least).
I had trouble justifying my love of fashion, and felt rather frivolous when thinking of ideas for this week's column. Who cares about shoes when children are starving everywhere? So I began to think, what if I could do both? After a bit of research, I have found one of my favorite organizations that helps me justify my love of a fashionable life, while still appeasing my conscious. There are a number of options, from sustainable clothing, and green business, to my personal favorite ethical trade and donations.
Support Ethical Trade (SET) Boutique is an organization that supports guilt-free shopping. SET Boutique participates in fair trade and they acknowledge the horrors of worker exploitation and human trafficking, urging shoppers to educate themselves on these issues. SET has links to articles, definitions of terms, and true stories and videos posted by survivors of exploitation or human trafficking. The companies mission statement, "the purpose of SET Boutique of promoting alternative shopping options that will end modern day slavery and exploitation," is a noble one. The products sold on the site, including bags, jewelry, apparel, and housewares, are provided by socially responsible suppliers.
Possibly the greatest function of the site is that with every $20 spent, SET Boutique will make a $5 donation to a charity of your choice, there are currently six to choose from, including organizations such as the Red Cross and SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation).
Because all of these things are from companies who practice social responsibility, many of them are handmade and unique. Many products are eco-friendly, or made in the United States. You will no longer be lost in the sea of North Face jackets and Tory Burch flats. Instead, you will stand out and hopefully start a conversation, if not a trend, of ethical fashion. Follow them on Twitter, like their page on Facebook, and read up about workers exploitation and human trafficking, what you find may open your eyes.
Will I begin to buy all of my clothes and accessories from SET Boutique? Probably not, but it is one great way to give back to society while enjoying something I love. It is also a great reminder that there are tons of opportunities, if you are willing to search for them, that allow us to give back to the world in some way. Last week I ripped on some of my least favorite fashion trends at BC, but one of my favorites has to be the abundance of Tom's worn here on campus. Of course they are trendy and very cute, but that doesn't invalidate the effort that is behind each pair. For those of you who don't know, TOMS Shoes donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair that is purchased.
There are many simple ways to give back, whether it be donating to charities through shoping, taking a reusable bag, practicing ethical shopping with fair trade companies, or simply being informed about the practices that go into making the clothes we all wear everyday. We can all continue to be men and women for others, while still looking good, if we just search for these opportunities.