Teaching the Next Generation About Ethical Shopping, Fair Trade & Sustainability
Like many parents, when my kids were born I had visions of doing everything “right”: feeding them pure organic foods, introducing them to classical music, and teaching them multiple languages.
I wanted to raise empathetic, ethical, intelligent, (other good vowel words), conscientious human beings who would do great things for the world and the people who populate it. Shape them into the type of people who would reject popular culture and the mindless consumption that comes with it.
Sounds easy, right?
Fast forward a few years and I have a nine year old, who mindlessly scatters her belongings all over the city, (no, that was not a typo. I would be ecstatic if she would just lose her stuff IN the house, instead of leaving a trail everywhere she goes.) She REQUIRES regular influxes of plastic crap to replace that which was lost. I also have a sixteen-year-old who cries if she doesn’t have the latest iPhone, and a ten year old who would rather play video games than engage with the real world.
Alas, we are still trying, so when it came time for back-to-school shopping we decided to teach the kids about ethical and sustainable fashion. We sat down together to watch The True Cost, an amazing documentary for anyone who hasn’t seen it. It was a bit intense and we had to forward through some scenes, but it certainly opened their eyes to the world of fast-fashion and all of its victims.
Suddenly, just as I had dreamed, the house was buzzing with conversations about child labour, living wages, environmental damage, and human trafficking.
Trying to build on the momentum I took the kids to the mall, and at every store we asked to see their selection of “ethical” clothes. Hot, tired, bored, and frustrated I came back to the house with empty bags and whiny kids. Vowing to soldier on, I started researching small independent stores in the city that might have what we are looking for. No luck there either.
The thing is, the kids really do need new pants. We live in Canada, and with chilly fall mornings, restyling last year’s pants as Capris is just not going to cut it.
A failure? Maybe… for now I will continue to research online for better alternatives, and in the meantime I will do what any parent would do. Buy them new pants, cut off the tags, and hope to sneak them past the kids’ scrutiny!
Hopefully, by next year we will have made a difference at Trusted Clothes, and I will be able to take my ethical kids shopping for back-to school.
How are you raising your kids ethically? Share your stories 🙂
photo credit: bring it back to nature