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Purchasing Clothing

Purchasing clothes and accessories can have immense impacts across the globe.

As mentioned in our AASHE STARS Reporting on Trademark Licensing, we are an affiliate of the Worker’s Rights Consortium (WRC), which is an is an independent labor rights monitoring organization that conducts investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe. As such, we work to purchase apparel from companies that ethically produce their products, such as those that Good On You rates highly.

You can purchase clothes ethically on your own too, though! Read on to learn about ways in which to have as positive an impact as possible with your wardrobe.

Steps

  1. Buy Less, Fix More
  2. Use Hand-Me-Downs and / or Go To Thrift Stores
  3. Purchase Biodegradable Materials From Verified Ethical Companies
  4. Utilize Textile Recycling Opportunities

Benefits of Purchasing Clothes Ethically

  • Less extractive processes decrease environmental damage from mining, deforestation, and hunting, thus increasing the health of ecosystems across the world.
  • Less pesticide use increases environmental health, worker health, and community health (i.e. lower cancer rates and birth defects).
  • Less additives (such as flame retardants or formaldehyde) similarly increase your health, community health, and environmental health.
  • Attention to worker’s rights increases equality and safety in the workplace all over the world and reduces the rate of workplace injuries and deaths.
  • Fair pay for workers increases mental and physical health and better allows them to advocate for worker’s rights.
  • Purchasing locally supports the local economy, reduces emissions from transportation, and better allows you to keep an eye on the above factors!

Buy Less, Fix More

Don't throw your clothes out if you can still wear them, no matter how they were produced!

In the fall of 2018, UMass Lowell's Society of Women Engineers hosted a Repair Café. The event was funded by a $2500 SEED Fund grant, and allowed students, faculty, and staff to bring in broken items to be mended.

The members of the club recommend watching YouTube tutorials on how to repair different types of materials (ranging from clothing to bicycles), since that's how they prepared to run the event!

For more information please read "Women Engineering Students Host Repair Cafe for Community" by Katharine Webster, and keep your eyes peeled for more Repair Cafes in the future. In the meantime, feel free to visit the local tailors and cobblers listed below!

  • Eleni’s Fashion and Tailoring
    • 41 Bridge St, Lowell, MA 01852
  • London Tailor Shop
    • 63 Fletcher St, Lowell, MA 01854
  • George the Tailor
    • 225 Broadway St, Lowell, MA 01854
  • Town Shoe Repair
    • 8 Fletcher St, Chelmsford, MA 01824

Use Hand-Me-Downs or Visit Thrift Stores

Hand-me-downs are items that friends, families, or neighbors have used and passed on to each other. Thrift stores are places where clothing and then sold, usually for a price much cheaper than the original price. Both divert clothing from being thrown into a landfill, and help you to save some money in the process.

If you're looking to purchase clothing and it doesn't need to be new, please check out these local thrift stores in Lowell!

  • St. Vincent's Thrift Store
    • 701 Merrimack St, Lowell, MA 01854
  • Angels Above Thrift Shop
    • 99 Mammoth Rd, Lowell, MA 01854
  • Dandelion District
    • 250 Jackson St 4th Floor, Lowell, MA 01852 (Mill No. 5)

Purchase Biodegradable Materials from Verified Ethical Companies

Good on You is the world’s leading source for fashion brand ratings, and they have an easy-to-use app as well! Their ethical brand ratings build on the great work done by over 50 certification schemes and other independent rating projects.

Purchasing clothing that is made of biodegradable materials prevents plastic microfibers from entering rivers, where they can interfere with ecosystems in the river and in the ocean. Check out Good On You's article on the top materials to check out!

Utilize Textile Recycling Opportunities

When you no longer want to wear your clothes or they are too worn out to be mended, don’t throw them in the trash! The City of Lowell has developed a webpage outlining various locations around the city where you can recycle your textiles to be donated or recycled.

If your community does not have this service, companies like Patagonia have their own textile recycling programs as well. Check out the recycling scene before you throw your clothing in the trash!