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Sustainable Shopping: Know Your Fashion

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chatham chapter.

Over the past several years, the push to “eat locally, eat organic, support farm to table” has only increased in fervor. While we may think to only eat locally, we should also be conscientious of where other products come from as well. Take clothes, for instance. The laws mandate that we cover our bodies, so clothes are a necessity. Do you actually know where your clothes were made? As I sit here in my blue Old Navy button-down, a quick internet search tells me more. First that Old Navy is a subsidiary of Gap, so Gap owns Old Navy. Next, my shirt was made in New Delhi, which is in India. India’s standards for pesticide use are not the same as those in the United States. Cotton is a plant and is used to produce the cotton we utilize for most clothes. As with many plants, there are various insects, virulents, and organisms that want to eat or destroy the crop. Thus, pesticides are sprayed frequently to keep the bugs away. Frequently, this is done without protective gear and in excess, to maximize production and minimize cost. The cotton also has to be treated with bleach and other harsh chemicals before it can be dyed and woven into fabrics. At times, workers stand in vats of harsh acids and nasty chemicals, mixing in the bleach by hand. It would also be easy to say that this happens in other countries and not our own. However, the truth is that we are exposed to dangerous chemicals unknowingly everyday. I wish I could say that this never happens in the world anywhere, but pesticide use, chemical use, and worker safety are still global issues. 

While this is important information to know, what can we actually do about it? What can you do about it? First, know where your clothes come from. Check the tag. If it says, “Made in ___”, do some research. Find the company and find their supplier. The internet provides us with endless searching possibilities. If the supplier provides its employees with safe working conditions, go buy more! If they don’t, however, don’t buy the product any more. 


A Killer Bargain. Prod. Tom Hienemann. 2006. DVD.

Green America

Organic Consumers Association

  Mara Flanagan is entering her seventh semester as a Chapter Advisor. After founding the Chatham University Her Campus chapter in November 2011, she served as Campus Correspondent until graduation in 2015. Mara works as a freelance social media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She interned in incident command software publicity at ADASHI Systems, gamification at Evive Station, iQ Kids Radio in WQED’s Education Department, PR at Markowitz Communications, writing at WQED-FM, and marketing and product development at Bossa Nova Robotics. She loves jazz, filmmaking and circus arts.