Are buying homemade products on Etsy as good as buying from an ethical fashion company?
I heard this question posed recently and it got me thinking. The person was wondering if they were still “doing good” by purchasing their clothes from independent makers on Etsy. Is supporting a woman making clothing out of her home the same socially conscious decision making as supporting companies that work with woman across the world to provide a livelihood?
I think the answer comes down to two basic things. Firstly, the “why” behind the creation. Second, what’s most important to you? Let’s examine the WHY.
Intention is as important as execution. Are the people or companies creating the products doing if from a place of good intentions? Do they care where the fabrics come from, if they’re ethically sourced, environmentally friendly? Just because something is handmade doesn’t mean it was made with good products or good intentions. If they are using up-cycled materials that’s better than new, commercially made materials. Or how about people that maybe don’t focus on the materials, but donate a portion of all sales to creating jobs for woman facing poverty? The why behind what they create is what draws us into a company. The why behind their products is what brings us back to purchase more from them.
Second, what are your priorities? We know we vote with our dollars. What choices do you want your dollars to make? If you care more about supporting single moms who are trying to earn extra income to feed their kids then maybe you find those creators on Etsy. If stopping human trafficking is your main focus, than buying directly from companies that support that cause will be your best route. It doesn’t make one decision better than another, so long as it’s a conscious decision. And that’s what this ethical shopping really all really comes down to; making conscious decisions. Knowing who made your clothing and WHY. Do your research and do what feels right to you!