Photo: How to shop for V.A.L.U.E.

When we pay less, we also get less: less transparency, less accountability, and lower ethical standards and quality.

Fast fashion exploits the fact that people love a bargain to make us buy more for less. But cheap clothing and accessories are not made to last, low-priced items are more likely to contain lead (beware of bright and shiny handbags and wallets) and beading and sequins are a good indicator of child labour.

Kate Black, author of Magnifeco: your head-to-toe guide to ethical fashion and non-toxic beauty says that when we pay less, we also get less: less transparency, less accountability, and lower ethical standards and quality. Instead, she suggests we shop for V.A.L.U.E.:

V is for vintage or second-life: Does it already exist? Many resale items — either in second-hand shops or online — still have tags on them!

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A is for artisan: Does it support craft, empower women or alleviate poverty? Ten Thousand Villages and Global Goods Partners offer a range of fair trade goods from around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people in the developing world, largely women, participate in the artisan sector.

L is for local: Does it serve my community? Support local businesses, markets and makers.

U is for upcycled: Does it save something from the landfill? Designers that create products from someone else's discards include Urban Lace, maker of unique jewelry pieces laser cut from inner tubes, and Freitag, a Swiss company that makes messenger bags out of truck tarps.

E is for ethical: Does it support human, environmental or animal rights? What's most important to you? Match brands with your values.

Fair trade is no longer strictly for bananas, coffee and chocolate. Two U.K.-based brands — People Tree and Pachacuti — are the first fashion companies to be certified fair trade by the World Fair Trade Organization. Oliberté boasts the first fair trade footwear factory and PACT Apparel makes organic basics like underwear.

Patagonia is probably the best known for working with environmentally friendly fibers (they only use organic cotton) but others are rising to the challenge, like EcoAlf and Groceries Apparel.

Want cruelty-free or vegan products? Matt and Nat is a Canadian, vegan bag brand and Vaute Couture and Brave Gentleman make womenswear and menswear, respectively.

What else would you like to know about fast OR eco-friendly fashion?

_Laura of Ontario commented on this blog to win Kate's book Magnifeco: Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-toxic Beauty

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

December 6, 2015

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Jun 15, 2016
1:34 AM

Thanks for excellent post sharing!! Its very helpful for me.

Jan 17, 2016
8:36 AM

I love these kinds of articles that show us how awareness of our planet is growing. I am a persistent recycler and am always trying to find ways to do better, do more, and share what I know about “saving the planet” — so to speak. It shocks me often when I am reminded how careless our leaders and global industry are in their pursuit of power and money, and am glad to know of this book and the work that is being done to create awareness and contribute to improving life. Though my contributions are small I do believe that every bit helps — hopefully we’ll tip the balance one day.

Jan 14, 2016
2:44 PM

Fast fashion is not sustainable for all the reasons mentioned in the article. We need more resources like this to shed some light on the problem and propose solutions. I would love to discover more Canadian and local alternatives, I live in Quebec.

Jan 14, 2016
11:46 AM

I try to shop responsibly. Thank you for listing resources of globally friendly suppliers I will buy this book if I don’t win it. And to keep to responsible stewardship values, hope to share it as widely as possible

Jan 14, 2016
9:06 AM

Great article! And lots of interesting comments too — I will definitely have to watch True Cost on Netflix now! As a vegan I always looking for alternatives to traditional leather products and some of them are cheap and nasty — and probably hiding even more nastyness in the production process. I got a Matt

Jan 14, 2016
6:30 AM

Thank you for this post and all the good shopping ideas! I’m always on the look out for ethical products and find it hard to find clothes that have been made ethically. I’m happy to now have more options.

Jan 14, 2016
5:24 AM

Thank you for this information. We really need to know this.

Jan 13, 2016
11:29 PM

Support Indiginous Artisans here in BC. Many brilliant designers, traditional artisans, and contemporary artisans make a diversity of local items from moccasins, jewelry, clothing, knitting, beadwork, cedar weaving, bracelets and baskets, paintings, carvings…with over 200 First Nations in BC you can find us all around in many galleries, pow wows, cultural events, and artisans shows and many conferences sharing our unique cultures and art. We invite you to seek us out and experience our culture. It is always a good time to buy ‘Local’.

Jan 13, 2016
7:00 PM

When my child was younger, I hated how so many children’s parents would create birthday party goodie bags filled with junk from dollar stores. I hated that it would all end up in a landfill…

I never knew beading and sequinned items were likely made by child labour … :(

Jan 13, 2016
6:26 PM

It’s so difficult to know what to buy for kids — toys, clothes, school supplies. Great article! Thanks!

Jan 13, 2016
5:03 PM

This sounds like a good resource for the classes I teach in elementary schools where we make items out of recycled wool!

Jan 12, 2016
9:43 PM

It would be great if labels on new clothing showed us where the product was made more specifically than Country, where the fibres of the product were made, and the conditions of the workers who made the clothing. Just like we have labels on food products, the same for every item of clothing, a full accounting of the footprint of the article of clothing. Then having a world wide standardization system for clothing that emphasizes ethical components and fair treatment of employees, like we see in Fair Trade food products. I think I would make more conscious purchasing decision if this information was more transperant on all articles of new clothing. Love the VALUE concept, too.

Jan 06, 2016
9:54 AM

Since watching The True Cost, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the ethical, sustainable and slow side of fashion. It even inspired me to start my own blog on the topic! I feel like there is so much to learn and do about this, and V.A.L.U.E. is such a cool idea. Can’t wait to read more about it!

Jan 06, 2016
9:46 AM

I started vintage shopping when I lived in Vancouver in the 70-80’s. I still like to upcycle and care about the environment! I would love this book to share with my friends! Empower!

Dec 27, 2015
8:47 PM

Great! I’m always looking for more ethical companies. I also recommend Adria Vasil.

Dec 25, 2015
9:00 AM

Vintage clothing stores and consignment /thrift stores are my favorite places to shop! I am vegan, and also very concerned for the environment. I would love to read this book to learn more ways to help. In turn, I’d love to pass that information along! ❤

Dec 20, 2015
6:38 PM

This is a completely on-trend topic. Fast fashion has always turned me off so I’m glad the tide is turning.

Dec 18, 2015
11:02 AM

Clever acronym! I have been trying to put V.A.L.U.E. into practice for the last 6 years now and to educate/influence my friends and family to do so too. Thank you, once again, Lindsay and the David Suzuki Foundation. I also just watched the documentary, The True Cost, on Netflix about the negative impacts of fast fashion.

Dec 17, 2015
6:41 PM

I’d love a copy of that book — that is one area I sometimes have a hard time with. I like to shop local and buy used but would love to know more about what brands are eco and fair trade.

Dec 17, 2015
5:51 PM

YES! All these things are so important when considering where to buy clothes. I think it’s also useful to decide if you really want something new — versus needing something new.

It is possible to be stylish and trendy, without supporting sweatshops and child labour! Local thrift shops are a great way to save money and the environment. The majority of my wardrobe is from the thrift shop, and I get compliments all the time about the unique pieces I’ve found.

Go and put some V.A.L.U.E. in your wardrobe :D

Dec 17, 2015
11:35 AM

We are decreasing our mall spending and increasing our second hand spending. It’s a process and takes time.

Dec 17, 2015
10:54 AM

After reading patagonia’s let my people surf, I’m beginning to understand how my consumer decisions have an impact on the world. I’m a fan of matt and nat and artisan/local crafters, too. I’d love to win this book. :)

Dec 17, 2015
9:21 AM

I hadn’t thought about the beading at all. Good tip. I always read labels and try to shop locally.

Dec 17, 2015
8:29 AM

Thanks so much! I loved this information! Something we should all be thinking about and putting into practice. Making the world a better place :)

Dec 17, 2015
8:11 AM

After watching the documentary The real Cost, I was definitely more aware about unethical practices and I’m not doing my best to buy local ethical clothing. Would love to see a list of ethical stores in Vancouver but also in Canada or more!

Dec 16, 2015
5:57 PM

Hi there, Just though I would share that an american company, Nau, is making some of their winter wear using recycled down. I don’t buy a lot of new stuff but I just purchased one of their coats, expensive but I’m very satisfied with the quality, it was made in China though, which was a bit disappointing, but I did commend them for using recycled down. I refuse to buy new down, but recognize the warmth it offers, so I was willing to pay to support this market. Thank you, Theresa Giroux

Dec 15, 2015
10:10 AM

It would be really great if you could start compiling stores in Canada that sell eco friendly products. A lot of the stores you mentioned are international, I just checked out a nice pair of socks, which would be 12$ but 25 to ship from the states. Knowing where to find things in Canada would be a great help as more stores which focus on ethical fashion come online.

Dec 14, 2015
8:12 PM

I would like to add FTA (Fashion Takes Action) please checkout their website and encourage your audience to make a pledge or a difference in the way we shop for clothing…we all can do something to challenge the fashion industries to provide better options to reduce, reuse or repurpose. Take care.

Dec 11, 2015
10:37 AM

Great advice! I’ve really been working to incorporate these ideas this holiday season. Would love to see what other tips she offers in this book :)

Dec 09, 2015
6:43 AM

I would like to know what else I can do with my family and do myself to become more eco friendly without having lead contaminated products or able to up-cycle items.

Dec 08, 2015
10:43 AM

Point me in the right direction pls, and I’ll help spread the word!

Dec 08, 2015
9:03 AM

Looks like a fantastic book. Eco shoppers need more resources like this to make informed shopping decisions.

Dec 08, 2015
8:51 AM

It takes time to curate an eco-wardrobe — you can’t just go to a mall to get everything you need. It’s worth it to me, and I think it helps keep things simple — you realize you don’t need as many clothes when you invest in great pieces. What are your tips to build a professional wardrobe that won’t break the bank or the planet?

Dec 06, 2015
5:54 AM

Hello, Respecterre in Québec also has a few models of underwear for women and men . Made locally, in organic fabric (I ve got the bamboo boy short and love them!)

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