{eco boutique} uncommon goods: the new way to gift

to date, i have stood up in exactly twelve weddings. think four weddings + a funeral, only, multiply by three and subtract one funeral. and yes, i'm both hugh grant + charlotte  coleman here.

this means exactly what you think: 12 bridesmaid dresses, 12 fabulous ceremonies, and shopping for twelve tokens of my love {aka gifts} for the happy couples, and eventually, it means gifts for the wee ones as well.

over the last four years, while writing for finny + dill, i've been searching for gifts that mirror my values, gifts that are made with environmentally-friendly materials + are made by individuals or companies with opaque supply chains. and of course we all want gifts that shine.

where do we find the kind of toys that tickle a baby's brain, promote language skills + keep her universe free from harmful chemicals, like lead-based paint + bpa plastics that have plagued the toy industry? today we're taking a peek into the world of uncommon goods, an online eco boutique based out of brooklyn, offering imaginative, handmade gifts + old fashioned toys for the little dumplings in your life, including meal time essentials, books + apparel to keep you + your sweet potatoes engaged, safe + healthy.

here comes the bride: 

i admit i've been a bit adrift in the world of gift giving when it comes to weddings + the little ones. i've been turning over stones looking for special gifts for the holy union as well as ethical children's gifts that are made with natural materials + are just plain cute. ask, and ye shall receive. uncommon goods, i discovered, has stylish, sustainable wedding gifts + the perfect eco presents for the babies + toddlers, too.

at one point in four weddings, charles, hugh's character, walks into a luxury boutique + inquires about the gift registry. he's directed to a bevvy of impractical + costly options including a life-sized pygmy sculpture. none of my friends have made any such appeals for frivolity, which leaves room for a universe of functional, yet fashionable gifts.

with wedding season upon us +  baby buns baking away, here's a place where you can find memorable, personalized gifts for the starry-eyed couple {yes to the sea of love artwork + sleek, wooden wine glasses} by object makers around the globe.

be kind, rewind:

let's rewind to 1999: founder dave bolotsky had a bright idea; he wanted to pull up gift giving by the roots by creating an online marketplace to connect makers from every corner of the country with individuals looking for beautiful design + unique gifts. remember what year this was, friends. this was a mighty lofty goal.

dave inaugurated this tiny enterprise from his apartment; the company grew, weathering the storm of economic uncertainty, taking a few steps back + some giant leaps forward. today it is a successful business employing 100+ workers in new york + artisans across the world, offering fair wages + a positive working environment {and the opportunity for makers to do what they love + for buyers like me to snag their wares}.

let's talk toys: 

vetting the market for items made with love by sewers, knitters, painters, woodworkers, metal smiths and myriad other artists + crafters, ug has gathered

a collection of perfect gifts for the lil peanuts in your life

including plush toys made with organic textiles + wooden toys colored with natural dyes.

there's been quite an evolution in the world of baby toys, from simple wooden building blocks to electronic items that light up like times square + erupt in robotic jangling. while we want toys to provide hours of entertainment + to positively impact development, we also want toys that are made with organic + natural materials.

i was happy to find handcrafted toys that i imagine even geppetto would admire {behold the world's cutest booties + the coolest selection of building blocks: there are 118 elements on the periodic table; i know this because of ug's novel baby blocks for little nuggets + not because of my phenomenal memory for all things chemistry}.

more good news:

with every purchase you make at uncommon goods, customers have the option to donate $1 to a nonprofit at checkout via their better to give program {to date, ug has donated over $1,000,000}. giving gifts + giving back is easy as pie at this online market.

wedding season + stork delivery? you know what to do.

until next time, stay green dear hearts!

{this is collaborative post sponsored by the good folks at uncommon goods //

images c/o uncommon goods // artwork by ev} 

{eco news} solidarité féminine: empowering women workers in the garment industry

as we come together in a show of solidarity + to advocate for women's empowerment, it is essential that we cast our eyes on the women we are connected to by way of the clothes we wear. in the global garment industry approximately 80% of garment workers are young women, a result of gender discrimination practices in the fast fashion industry, an export-oriented industry that takes advantage of cultural stereotypes in countries where apparel is currently produced.*

clothes are a basic need + fundamental to our self-expression, but while the cost of food + housing, education + entertainment has increased over time, the cost of our clothes has decreased year after year. suspicious? indeed.

you see, the well-worn jeans + comfy sweaters in our wardrobes are a direct product of a labor-intensive industry, in which someone sits at a sewing machine to manufacture our clothes. and that someone is most often a woman. these women are not being paid fairly. they're not even being paid a living wage.

"the day i read about the [the rana plaza building collapse of april 24, 2013 which killed 1,138 garment workers in bangladesh], i looked down and realized i had never thought about where clothes come from," reflects andrew morgan, director of the true cost, a documentary exploring the impact of the fast fashion industry. "when you grow up looking only at a store window and only thinking about your side of the equation, it leads to a very dangerous set of effects." *

this is how apparel prices fell over the years and this is how we come together to effect change + empower women across the world: 

let's start here: 80 billion pieces of new clothing pieces are consumed each year. that is a staggering number. a seismic cultural shift has led consumers to believe that low prices are both fair + decent. we are aghast when confronted with a high ticket price, but in reality, it is the lowest ticket prices that should shock + unnerve us.

elizabeth cline, author of overdressed reminds consumers, "the wages paid to sewing machine operators and the money paid to garment factories enormously affects the prices we pay for fashion." 

as prices drop, consumers are buying more and more {consumption of clothes has quadrupled since the 1980s}.

increased customer demand + a half century of competition based on low prices has led to an "unabated + unprecedented free fall in the average price of clothing," this is called fast fashion. for apparel + footwear to remain at budget prices + companies to meet demand, companies now outsource, which means the low prices consumers expect to pay are built around the cost of production in other developing countries {97% of clothes are now made overseas}.

the more we buy, the faster they must sew. as large fashion retailers outsource production, the worker's most basic rights are being denied.

fashion revolution, an organization that campaigns for systemic change in the fashion industry, explains, "these companies take advantage of women's unequal position in society to form an even cheaper + docile work force." female workers only have access to the lowest paid jobs; they work excessive hours without overtime pay and without legal protection; their right to organize and bargain collectively is constantly denied or restricted; and the factories lack adequate safety precautions.

john hilary of war on want explains, "women are employed in a highly exploitative context. women workers remain at the bottom of the supply chain, working long hours for poverty wages and denied basic maternity rights." often, women are refused employment if they are pregnant, and they must agree not to become pregnant while employed as a garment factory worker. they work under total lack of job security. 

i read that americans discard an average of 80 pounds of clothes per year. that's per person. that's 11 million tons of textile waste from the u.s.a. alone. with cheap clothing now readily available, apparel + shoes are viewed as disposable. we used to have a relationship with our clothes. we cared for them, mended them, passed them down even. and we can have that again. if we slow down; if we shop responsibly.  

at present, garment workers in bangladesh, sri lanka, cambodia, india, indonesia + china receive ¼-⅓ of a living wage needed to cover basic costs of food + shelter, clothing + education. currently, american garment workers being paid minimum wage earn four times as much as chinese garment workers and 38 times more than bangladeshi garment workers. 

women are subjected to verbal + physical abuse, as well as sexual harassment when they ask for an increase in wages or try to organize labor unions. paying a fair price for apparel ensures a living wage for which basic needs can be met, including clean water, food + transportation, as well as access to education {look for certification or ask the brand}. when these needs are met, positive changes start to occur, access to higher education, healthcare and equality for women and girls. rock-bottom prices can reflect forced labor, child labor and human rights abuse. 

"as long as we keep buying products that put our future at risk, others will continue to produce them. however, an awareness of our genuine power as consumers can break this cycle. we can + must initiate change. whether we buy a garment or the materials from which it is made, each purchase has an impact on the world around us." offers bruno pieters, founder of ethical fashion label honest by.

garment workers are coming together to mobilize despite the many challenges; they are forming labor movements to fight systemic discrimination + inequality. you + i can help empower women worldwide by being a voice for those who are victims of violent intimidation by raising public awareness + putting pressure on large companies + firms to pay workers a living wage. and to do that, we must be willing to pay more + buy less. 

we must recognize the connection between the clothes we buy and the people who make them. the power of consumers and the media should not be underestimated. for conditions to change we must demand transparency in supply chains. emily young, eight storeys

{don't forget the tip} here are a few simple tips from social + environmental justice journalist and author of to die for, lucy siegle, on how to transition to ethical consumerism. higher price points don't guarantee ethical + fair trade standards are being met. in the absence of certifications or other overt information you'll need to find out as much as you can yourself {ask companies "who made my clothes?}. don't be intimidated by the idea of researching before you buy. this will slow down the pace of your clothes buying.

1/ it's ok to be inquisitive about the supply chain

2/ save up + spend more on fewer quality items

3/ patronize brands + designers doing something differently {for a list of ethical fashion brands + fair trade boutiques, skip to your right side bar here at finny+dill, or scroll down on your phone}

livia firth, slow fashion activist reminds consumers that "you can be an active citizen through your wardrobe" by asking yourself whether you would wear an item of clothing 30 times before purchasing it + by asking yourself if you need it or you want it.

learn more about how you can contribute to the garment worker's fight here.

until next time, stay green dear hearts!

{images via collective}