This summer, I, along with many incoming college freshmen, have spent my free time searching for the perfect arsenal of back-to-school necessities. As an informed consumer, I cannot stomach the thought of using a backpack made in a factory full of girls who are stuck working in an industry that pays them less than a living wage. With this heartbreaking sense of irony in mind, I promised myself that in doing my back to school shopping, I would do all I could to purchase ethically-made, sustainable school supplies, while remaining within my newly-minted college student budget.
Now, weeks into my journey, I have come to realize just how tricky it is to live a stylish, ethical, and financially-sound life. Having said that, I have that it is possible to find clothing and dorm supplies that are made responsibly, despite the many fast fashion bargains thrown in my direction. If spending extra time researching — and a few extra dollars — is what it takes to ensure I will not feed the beast of cheap labor, then so be it. Shopping ethically has been a challenging task, but knowing that my purchases are helping a greater cause makes it all worth it. Using consumerism as a mode of activism has been remarkably empowering.
Here are some of the ethically-made, locally-made and/or eco-friendly alternatives I came up with …
Tess Garcia is an 18 year-old freshman at the University of Michigan. She spent her high school years interning for the likes of PR Consulting and Fusion Models, and has written for a variety of publications, from Guest of a Guest to her local paper, the Birmingham Eccentri.
* This list is brought to you in part by Shopspring.com.