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It can be challenging to find transparent information on the products we purchase. In today’s world of fast fashion and competitive price tags, we often face misinformation on where our products come from, who they were made by, and how they arrived in our households.
At AGBC, we’re dedicated to quality. Part of our sourcing process is learning the history of our apparel and gifting items - from the materials they’re made from to the makers who created them.
Feel the same as us about products that help protect the environment while minimizing exploitation? Here’s some of our top tips on what to look out for and potential red flags.
What to look for to ensure product quality as a responsible shopper:
1. Full transparency
Our rule of thumb is…If you can’t find information on a product, there’s probably a reason for it.
Brands with good quality products can’t wait to share with their customers and community why you’d want to buy it. They want you to know the benefits of apparel that is locally made or what materials were used in the process when creating their sustainable gift items. At AGBC, we make it easy for you to be a responsible shopper. We always provide information on the materials and link to the companies who make them.
2.Does the brand talk about sustainability and ethics?
Similarly to whether a brand is fully transparent with product information, you will be able to tell the true quality of a brand by whether they talk about sustainability and ethics.
Are these topics mentioned on their website or social media? Do they list it as a key value on their about page or the methods used for production? Do they educate their clients on these topics? If a company is truly interested in helping minimize the environmental and social impact of their company, they likely won’t keep it a secret and will work hard to become a leader in their industry.
AGBC is dedicated to working with such leaders of the industry in BC.
3. The price tag
Famous fast fashion brands like Shein - who have also recently been in the news for the high amounts of lead in their products - have that shiny price tag we’d love to be real.
$10 coats. $5 t-shirts. $3 candle holders. It can be hard to say no - until we delve a little deeper. It’s safe to say the cheaper the price tag, the cheaper the quality…as proven in recent investigations by Marketplace which found of “38 samples of children’s, adult’s and maternity clothing and accessories in fast fashion online retailers, one in five had elevated levels of chemicals that experts found concerning”.
That’s because in order to make something low cost, oftentimes something else has to give; be it cheaper packaging, cheaper production methods, cheaper labor wages. At AGBC, we pride ourselves on being a one-stop shop for budget-friendly shopping. However, our price tags are still fair and reflect the quality of our eco-friendly materials and authentic BC products and gifts.
4. Quality, eco-friendly materials
Materials like polyester are commonly used in a range of products from everyday clothing to outdoor blankets and water bottles. The problem is that these types of materials can take up to 200 years to break down if they end up in our landfill! And you guessed it - that’s where they often end up. In textiles alone, it’s reported over 17 million tonnes ended up in landfills in 2018.
By carefully selecting products made from quality materials like bamboo, recycled polyester and hemp, we can make a huge impact on the environment. They use less water, are more durable (so you don’t have to throw them out after multiple uses only) and can be recycled. Buyers should still double check the manufacturing process however, as even though these materials do contain less chemicals, some companies still add them.
5. Offshore manufacturing
Why do companies choose offshore manufacturing? Many times it’s due to the ability to pay cheaper wages for workers, access cheaper textiles, run bigger factories…the list is endless. And it’s heartbreaking to see stats like those found on the 2020 report by Fashion Checker, who listed a whopping 93% of brands surveyed aren’t paying garment workers a living wage.
By choosing to buy locally-made products (again with brands who are transparent about where their items come from), we can reduce waste and the environmental impact of transportation, support the local economy and avoid participating in unethical, harmful or toxic production methods.
Fashion and gifting is personal, but it’s our collective action that slowly changes the consumer industry for the better. We might not be able to change the world (today!), but as individuals we can vote with our wallets and push for systemic change in mass production, unethical labor practices and products that harm the environment.
As we shift our thinking towards quality over quantity, reuse and the safety of our planet, we can move towards a brighter future of slow shopping, health and happiness.
All The Good Things From BC is here to help you on this journey towards mindful shopping. Read more about our values here.