At A Loss: Where Can I Buy “Green” Clothes That Don’t Look Like Yoga Pants?

One area of my life that I have mostly failed at going green is my clothes. I like cute clothes that don’t cost a fortune and I don’t have a lot of time to shop. Mostly my clothes come from places like Target, Macy’s, Old Navy, Kohl’s and the Banana Republic or Gap sale racks.  Yes, my clothes come from purveyors of cheap, mass-produced goods.

I’ve tried some of the very cute eco-fashion boutiques here in Portland but the clothes either look like sweats or cost hundreds of dollars or both, not to mention the fact that those types of boutiques are not located conveniently for me here in Tualatin.  I’ve bought a few fair trade clothing items at a great shop in Manzanita (Oregon Coast) called Unfurl, which typically has a great sale table outside, but I only get there twice a year or so. My friend Karen P gets the cutest things at consignment shops but she’s about a size 2. I’m not so lucky and my endeavours to shop consignment stores have been mostly failures.

I’ve made up this list of criteria for clothing shopping. I’d love for my readers to share some wisdom with me on this subject, as there must be a better way.

  1. My preferred area to shop is a 5-10 mile radius of Tualatin (SW Portland and SW suburbs).  Online options are also great but as it is I get overwhelmed trying to buy eco-friendly clothes online.
  2. The clothing must be cute, not dumpy, and come in a range of sizes.
  3. Prices need to be reasonable. What’s reasonable? Let’s say $75 for dress pants, $40 for fun pants, $40 for blouses and $20 for kick-around tops. Currently I generally spend much less than that but for good-quality clothes I love that are also good for people and the planet, I’d stretch.
  4. Must have a good return policy. Half the time when I shop for clothes I have Grace with me so I don’t even bother trying them on until I get home, then return those that don’t fit later.
  5. Must be an OK place to bring a small, mostly well-behaved child.

Your input is appreciated!


People Are The True Cost Of Nike’s Low Prices

Nike recently got caught red-handed, again, by an underground Australian news reporter who discovered horrific sweatshop conditions for apparel workers in Malaysia. This time the story is worse than low pay or bad conditions. It’s pure forced labor and human trafficking.

Mike Duffy, a reporter for Australia’s Channel 7, posed as a fashion buyer and gained access to an otherwise inaccessible Nike factory in Kepong, Malaysia. He found hundreds of workers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam and Burma living in cramped, squalid conditions, paid a few dollars a day, and, the worst part, with no way of leaving.

Here’s what Duffy found. While still in their home countries the workers are offered a job in the factory for an upfront fee. Of course none can pay this fee since they are poor, so instead they are given a job and their passports confiscated until they can repay the debt they now owe. They also sign 3-year contracts and are literally locked in the factory facility until they can repay their debt, which is just about impossible given their low pay.

This kind of treatment of workers is unacceptable, but I’m left wondering how does this happen? Nike has been on watchdog lists for years since gross human rights violations were first discovered in the 90’s in their factories. Nike has put out statement after statement and policy after policy to avoid this kind of scandal and yet it’s happening again and they seem truly shocked.

And therein lies the problem. Nike has repeatedly treated its human rights violations as public relations problems rather than justice problems with a deeper cause. They continue to demand low prices from their factories while insisting the factories adhere to their list of decent working conditions requirements. If the factories can’t keep costs low, Nike moves on to another factory. Nike seems to put much more weight on the economic success of the factory, and naturally their factories hope they can successfully hide the corners they cut in order to deliver on price. Only one factory was caught in this investigation but the same pressure to keep costs ultra-low remains on all of them. What other atrocities are going on and Nike, what are you going to do to stop them once and for all?