Charitable Fashion

It’s been a hectic three weeks, my friends. My new roommate and I had a small apartment fire (everyone and everything are fine, although we had to clean off a lot of soot after the fire was put out), then I almost chucked our new air conditioner out of the window (be communicative and coordinated when working with a partner to install an air conditioner!), and now I’ve just applied for a new job (which has involved lots of anxiety flare-ups)!

It is definitely about time for a vacation. So I’m back in Brooklyn this week, and while part of my “vacation” has been devoted to a few work- and career-related tasks, I’ve also been eating, drinking, and (window) shopping quite a bit! It’s been nice.

Speaking of shopping…there are a lot of things I love about living in Chicago, but it’s hard to beat New York’s fashion scene. And one of the things New York excels at is the sheer abundance of fashion. Interesting and unique clothing / shoe / accessory stores are everywhere, which can be overwhelming. It used to be overwhelming for me. I like to shop, but I am the kind of person who takes her time and mulls over each item, and when there are several hundred stores at my fingertips, there are a lot of items to mull over.

But ever since I’ve made a commitment to support ethical and sustainable fashion, I’ve realized that I feel much less anxious when I go shopping. And that’s because I know my options are limited. If there is only one eco-friendly and/or ethical store in this neighborhood, then that’s where I’m headed, end of story! It’s surprisingly freeing to know that if this place doesn’t have what I’m looking for, then I’m done for the day and it’s time to put my energy elsewhere.

That’s what I was thinking about as I was walking through Soho after a dessert date with one of my best friends. I was happy not to be overwhelmed by all of the high end and high street stores that were surrounding me, but I also really wanted to get my shopping fix in. Soho used to be my go-to shopping destination, and walking through the neighborhood brought waves of nostalgia for my uninformed, consumerist past. Unfortunately, the only ethically and environmentally conscious clothing store in the area that I could think of was Reformation, and they are a bit out of my price range (although they are having a sale right now…). And then I remembered Housing Works Thrift Shop!

The adorable house logo, calling out to me as trumpets sound in the distance.

I was ecstatic! Housing Works is an amazing, New York-based organization that provides a variety of services (including housing and healthcare) to New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. To help raise revenue, they run several thrift stores, including a used book store that my Mom used to bring my brother and me to when we were younger (it’s the perfect place for a cash-strapped parent raising a voracious bookworm). The Housing Works thrift stores stock a lot of designer goods and are very well curated. So, what better place to search for some new duds?

I had twenty minutes until the Soho store closed, so I started flipping through the racks and staring at the shoe selection. Unfortunately, everything seemed to be not my size, not my style, or not my budget. I started to lose hope when, in the rack of black clothes, I spotted something lacey, long, and oversized. The tag said $5.00. I grabbed it, brought it into the dressing room, and tried it on. It was everything the inner goth punk kid in me dreamed of! (Photos and outfits to come!)

I headed to the cash register, ready to fork over my money, when I spotted a choker in the display case. It was a style of choker that had been on my wishlist for literally a year; I had actually been saving for an ethically made version of it that was over $150.00. Price tag of the Housing Works choker? Ten dollars. Even better, it matched a pair of vintage clip-on earrings that I had bought earlier this week!

The choker! And the matching(ish) clip-ons! (Apologies for the crappy flash, it’s 3:30 am…)

Oh, my heart, it jumped for joy as I brought everything over to the cashier. Even he paused to appreciate my finds! (The cashier actually took so much time to stare admiringly at what I was buying that his co-worker thought he was searching for the price tag on the shirt, ha ha!) I’m so happy that I took the time to both satiate my inner shopping fiend and support a good cause. Yay, sustainable shopping!

Now here’s some self-indulgent outfit of the day photos:

Contemplative bathroom selfie. That light is soo interesting…


Dressing room selfie. I love me some suspenders. And you can see the lacey shirt in the background!

(Psst, my outfit has some sustainable elements too. The black v-neck is from Pact, a brand that sells organic and fair trade cotton basics; their boyshorts are super comfy, I wear them all the time! And the clip-ons [these are the ones that match the choker] are from an antiques store in Park Slope, Brooklyn, called Antique Raiders. Check them out sometime, the store owners were very nice and the merch is quite affordable.)

So, that’s been my day of ethically conscious shopping!

By the way, I have some reading to recommend. It’s an article, so it’s not going to take too much of your time, but it’ll be depressing. It’s worth it though. Because it’s about our planet, and it highlights all of the reasons why I want to lessen my environmental impact. In this article, the author makes it abundantly clear that we need to start healing our beloved Earth, because climate change is already noticeably affecting weather patterns, ocean temperatures, and animal migration. After reading it, I felt terrified and somewhat hopeless. But then I remembered that it is not actually too late. Not yet. But if we cease our efforts to stop climate change now, then we won’t have any chance on this earth at all.

So, whatever you can do to lessen your environmental impact, do it. Meat consumption creates a huge burden on the environment, so if you are a meat eater, try to have at least one day a week when you only eat vegetarian items. Reduce unnecessary consumerism: take the time to consider whether or not you will use the product in question enough times to justify its purchase. Donate unwanted, gently used items instead of throwing them away. Use reusable bags when you do make purchases. For better or worse, money is power, so spend your money on things that won’t further destroy our planet.

And, as the article suggests, use your political power. Consumers don’t just have power in the market. If you can contact your local representative directly and let that person know how much the environment means to you, whether it means expressing your opposition to an oil pipeline or applauding your government for installing solar panels, do it. Because if enough voices band together, ultimately government officials must respect the will of the people.

Okay, end rant. It’s definitely time for bed. I hope that you’re all having a good weekend, and that you’re loving yourselves and your planet in the best ways you can!

❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to write about any organizations or businesses that I have mentioned. This post expresses my honest opinions.


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