It has now been about 5 years since I switched the MotherTongues t-shirts to print on 100% organic cotton t-shirts. I made this switch after we visited Australia, learned about the word Dadirri, and realized that if I want MotherTongues to be an example of the life-affirming words printed on the t-shirts, I need to use sustainable, eco-friendly apparel. I also realized that printing words about social justice, means that I need to use t-shirts made with fair labor.
Why go to all the effort to find Fair Trade t-shirts? Why not just use whatever cheapest t-shirts are available?
As a reminder, the nine principles of Fair Trade are:
1. Create Opportunities for Marginalized Producers
2. Develop Transparent Relationships
3. Build Capacity
4. Promote Fair Trade
5. Pay Promptly and Fairly
6. Support Empowering Working Conditions
7. Ensure Children’s Rights
8. Cultivate Environmental Stewardship
9. Respect Cultural Identity.
MotherTongues is committed to values such as fair trade, cultural sensitivity, ecological sustainability and economic justice. In light of these values, going Fair Trade makes sense to MotherTongues.
After a long time of searching, I decided on three suppliers of wholesale apparel and accessories. I’ve been using HaeNow, econscious, and Maggie’s Organics as suppliers of the apparel that I print on. A couple of years ago, Fair Trade USA started their pilot program for Apparel & Linens. HaeNow was one of the first companies, along with prAna, to have their products Fair Trade certified. The Fair Trade Certified Apparel program is the first of its kind, enabling consumers to consider the social, economic and environmental impact when shopping for apparel. This program directly benefits the farmers who grow the cotton and the workers who sew the clothing. MotherTongues is proud to use Fair Trade certified t-shirts. Look for the familiar Fair Trade Certified hang tag on your MotherTongues t-shirts – the same logo as on your coffee.
In the light of the Bangladesh factory incidents, I believe we should all be more aware what we are wearing. I believe that I have a responsibility towards the earth and towards the people making the t-shirts that I sell. I believe that:
environmental consciousness + social responsibility = 100% organic cotton, Fair Trade apparel = sustainable apparel
I know this is a process: there is no such thing as “the perfect t-shirt” and I can only strive to find more sustainable clothing, that is good for the earth and for the people who work in the production process. I know that as a small business, I don’t make a huge impact. But my hope is that together, we can help communities around the world. How wonderful is that.
Remember, every purchase matters!