Maisa Mumtaz-Cassidy shares her tips for shopping your values and buying consciously.
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While shopping often feels like a mindless activity where you can turn off your brain and aimlessly add items to your cart, it pays off in the long run to be a conscious consumer. The ways in which we shop have a major environmental impact. Did you know that 60% of our clothing is plastic? This has led to 1.4 milion trillon microfibers (tiny pieces of plastic that break off from our clothing) polluting our oceans. With consumerism making such an immense environmental impact, taking note of which companies you give your money to and what their practices and values are, is a step towards ensuring that your shopping habits are making a better environmental impact. This action of buying from brands that align with your personal beliefs and ethics is known as shopping your values.
Shopping your values allows you to not only support ethical brands, but also set a precedent for how businesses operate in terms of sustainability and fair labor practices. A brand’s environmental impact, labor practices, worker rights, animal rights, diversity, and stance on social issues are all areas to evaluate when deciding whether or not a brand aligns with your personal values. The Wellness Feed had the pleasure of speaking with Maisa Mumtaz-Cassidy, founder and CEO of Consciously, a marketplace featuring a variety of ethical brands, about how to effectively shop your values.
Maisa has worked in the manufacturing space, seeing firsthand the ethical and environmental challenges present in the fashion industry. This experience, along with her family’s experiences working in the garment industry in Bangladesh, inspired her to learn more about the social and environmental impact of the fashion industry. With a drive to highlight ethical brands and help others shop their values, Consciously was born. This innovative virtual marketplace features 80+ responsible brands, spanning across categories suchas women’s, men’s, kid’s, wellness, and home goods. With professional experience running her online platform and a desire to help others effortlessly shop their values, Maisa was kind enough to share her personal insight on the best ways to shop your values.
Tips & Best Practices
The way you shop makes a difference when it comes to human rights, animal rights, and environmental impact. These tips make finding eco-conscious brands to support an easy and stress-free experience. From analyzing brand transparency, checking materials used, and utilizing platforms like Consciously, you’ll find a variety of helpful tips and best practices below.
Define Your Values Before Shopping
In order to shop your values, you first need to identify what those values are. Are you passionate about circular fashion and how it reduces waste? Perhaps you want to make sure you are supporting brands that emphasize diversity, equality, and inclusion. Maybe you are vegan and prefer to avoid brands that conduct animal testing. Create a list of your values (you can always add to the list later).
Votch Apple ‘Leather’ Wallet
This vegan leather wallet is made from 100% AppleSkin, a bio-based material. Lined in material source from recycled plastic bottles. $59 ($48 Sale)
Note the Types of Materials Used
One way to effectively shop your values is to check which materials are used by brands. You may be shocked to learn that most clothing is made of plastic, but there are plenty of sustainable textiles out there as well. Maisa states, “I gravitate towards brands and products that use organic cotton, hemp, and recycled or deadstock fabrics.” A simple way to verify what materials a brand uses is to look for specific third-party certifications, such as GTOS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and ACO (Australian Certified Organic).
Watch Out For Greenwashing
Another tip for finding brands that align with your beliefs is to be wary of greenwashing. Greenwashing is an advertising and marketing technique that aims to deceive the public, making the public believe a brand is more ethical or environmentally friendly than it actually is.
Maisa explains that greenwashing “creates confusion and makes it difficult to identify genuinely ethical brands. The prevalence of greenwashing underscores the importance of thorough research and diligence when shopping for values.” A few of Maisa’s tips for spotting greenwashing include:
- Researching brands
- Reading reviews
- Finding third-party certifications
- Engaging with online communities centered around ethical shopping
‘Be The Good’ Graphic T-Shirt
Handmade in the U.S.A from 100% organic cotton. $36 ($23 Sale)
Evaluate a Brand’s Level of Transparency
A great way to check if a brand aligns with your values is to evaluate the brand’s level of transparency. Are they open about their factory practices? Do they release annual sustainability reports? Maisa recommends investigating a brand’s website to learn more about their values and practices, search for third-party certifications, and note whether a brand partners with a reputable environmental organization. Still not convinced a brand aligns with your personal values? Send the company an email with your questions. If they do not respond, that may be telling of their practices.
Support Platforms Like Consciously Who Do The Work For You
Not everyone has the time, energy, or desire to personally vet each and every brand for ethical and environmental standards. Luckily, companies like Consciously do the hard work for you by creating lists of reputable brands that pay their employees a living wage and work to reduce their environmental impact.
Maisa explains, “Our vetting process ensures alignment with values such as Fair Trade, Vegan, Handwork, Transparent, Women-Owned, BIPOC-Owned, Small Batch, and Eco Friendly. By curating a selection of brands that embody these values, Consciously aims to empower consumers to make informed and ethical choices, contributing to positive change with their dollars.”
Connect with Like-Minded Individuals
Another tip for effectively shopping your values is to engage with like-minded individuals (this is also a great way to avoid climate fatigue!). There are plenty of online communities centered around sustainability, ethical shopping, slow fashion, and conscious consumption. “Online communities, forums, and social media groups focused on ethical and sustainable living can provide valuable insights, recommendations, and support,” Maisa mentions.
Know Everyone Is On Their Own Timeline
While online communities are very helpful, it is also important to remember that we are all on our own unique sustainability journeys and everyone’s timelines will look different. It is impossible to become a sustainability expert overnight, and what matters is the effort you are putting into shopping your values. If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, a good first step Maisa recommends is to “Support platforms like Consciously who do the hard work for you and help educate you along the way!” When shopping on sites like these, you know the brands you are browsing have met certain ethical, environmental, and social criteria, allowing you to shop guilt-free.