Sustainable Shopping: Sale Roundup, Black Friday 2017

It’s that time of year again in the U.S.A.! If you’re planning to go shopping for presents (or for yourself) this holiday weekend, join me in supporting brands and boutiques that care about the communities around them and the earth! I’ve put together a list of some ecofriendly and/or ethically run stores that are having sales:

Beauty:

  • Rituel de Fille: Twenty percent off all full-size items with code SHADOW20 from 11/24 through 11/27.

Clothing:

  • American Deadstock: Get 50 percent off everything and free shipping using code FIFTY.
  • Amour Vert: Twenty percent off everything using code GREENFRIDAY.
  • Arkins: Twenty percent off sitewide beginning on 11/24.
  • Beacon’s Closet: Twenty percent off using code BLACKFRIDAY. This sale is online only, and the code is only valid on 11/24.
  • Chromat: From 11/24 through 11/27, use code GIVE20 to get an additional 20 percent off all sale items. Additionally, 20 percent of the proceeds will be donated to empowering organizations like the ACLU.
  • Deadwood: Thirty percent off all items online using code BLKFRIDAY, starting 11/24.
  • Ecoalf: On 11/24, Ecoalf will place a number of items from previous seasons on super sale, and a percentage of every purchase on 11/24 will be donated to sea conservation efforts.
  • Faircloth Supply: Thirty percent off everything using code BLKFRIDAY17, from 11/23 through 11/27.
  • Groceries Apparel: Save 15 percent off purchases of $150 or more, save 22 percent on purchases of $225 or more, and save 30 percent on purchases of $300 or more.
  • Hackwith Design House: Starting today (11/23), get 30 percent off sitewide using code THANKSGIVING17.
  • Hazel and Rose: From 11/23 until 11/27, you get 25 percent off sitewide using code MANYTHANKS. (I also love Hazel and Rose’s blog post discussing their feelings about Black Friday.)
  • Nau: Get 30 percent off fall and winter styles using code SAVE30, from now until 11/26.
  • Nudie Jeans: Get 25 percent off select seasonal items (no code needed).
  • Outerknown: Get 20 percent off current styles (no code needed) and get up to 75 percent off in their warehouse sale.
  • Miakoda: From now through 11/27, use code ETHICALSHOPPING for 30 percent off your order.
  • Poppy and Pima: Get 30 percent off sitewide on orders over $7 with code GETYOURGIFTON, from 11/23 through 11/27.
  • Reformation: Get 30 percent off everything from 11/23 through 11/27, online and in store, no code needed.
  • Tradlands: From now until 11/27, use code BF15 for 15 percent off all orders over $100, use code BF20 for 20 percent off all orders over $200, get free worldwide shipping for orders over $200, and get a free $10 gift card with a purchase over $50.
  • Upstate: Get 25 percent off using code TURDUCKEN, now through 11/27.
  • Zero Waste Daniel: Get 25 percent off everything on 11/27. They are also debuting online their collab with Coyuchi! (The collab seems to be exempt from the sale.)

Home Goods:

  • Boll and Branch: Twenty-five percent off all orders over $150 with code BLACKFRIDAY.
  • Coyuchi: Twenty percent off select styles, plus free shipping; click through the link on their home page.
  • Package Free: Twenty-five percent off the entire store today (11/27) only with code CYBERMONDAY at checkout, plus free shipping with orders over $100!

Underthings:

  • Brook There: From 11/23 through 11/27, get 40 (!!!) percent off clothing and lingerie sets using code THANKFUL.
  • Hanna Broer: From now through 11/24, use the code Pre-Holiday-2017 to save 20 percent off all orders over $120, or, if you shop through her Etsy store, you’ll automatically get 20 percent off when you check out with $120 or more worth of her products.
  • Pact: Get 30 to 60 percent off sitewide (no code needed).
  • Sock Dreams: Get twenty percent off sitewide from 11/25 through 11/27 using code GIVESOCKS2017. Use their search filters to find ecofriendly and US made socks (not everything in their store fits those categories).

Shoes and Other Accessories:

  • Edge of Ember: Save 30 percent sitewide with code BLACK30.
  • Kayu: Save up to 75 percent through their sale section.
  • Oliberté: Save 30 percent sitewide starting now.
  • Proud Mary: Today (11/27) only, use code CYBERMONDAY to get 15 percent off sitewide plus free shipping.
  • Soko: Take 25 percent sitewide with code BLACKFRIDAY25.

I’m trying to buy less and buy more thoughtfully this year, so I’m exercising a lot of willpower right now in the face of all of these great sales from these great companies. If you buy anything good, let me know! 😉

❤ 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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My Summer Shopping Plan

It’s summer! Which means it’s time to lounge on the beach, plan some getaways, and get really sweaty. (I sweat so, so much in warm weather. . . .) Summer is also when lots of sales start popping up. The thing is, I’m on a mission to be a more environmentally friendly and ethical consumer. And that means buying less, and buying smarter. But I also like a good sale. What am I to do?

Well, here is my shopping plan:

  1. Make a list of things that I need. Then make a list of things that I have been wanting for over a year. Make it clear to myself what is “necessary” and what is a “want.”
  2. If there is a sale that might satisfy something in one of those categories, I will take a look at the sale.
  3. If I find the right item, I will put it in my shopping cart and consider it. The first question I will ask myself is: Was this item made in an ethical manner, with eco-friendly materials? If not, will buying this item at least help me be more environmentally conscientious in my daily life? If the answer is “no” to both questions, then the item won’t be bought!
  4. If I can answer “yes” to at least one of the above, then I will consider which category the item falls into. If it falls into the “need” category, I will ask myself: Do I really need it? Or can I live without it? Might it be possible to substitute something I already own for it?
  5. If it falls into the “want” category, I will ask myself: Will I enjoy this item if I buy it? Or will it fall into a forgotten corner of my closet or apartment after the novelty fades away? Is it possible for me to make this item myself?
  6. If I still believe the item in my shopping cart is a worthwhile purchase, I’ll buy it!

I’m hoping that my shopping plan will reduce any unnecessary spending on my own part. I also hope that the above shopping plan also helps me reduce the number of new items on my want list (because, frankly, whenever I look at a sale I always add something new to my “want” list).

Anyone else have a shopping plan that helps you reduce spending and shop in a more ethical manner?

By the way, if you’re curious what sales I’m looking at right now, here’s the roster:

  • Bambeco: 60 percent off sitewide (with some exclusions) using code FIREWORKS17
    • About the brand: Ecofriendly home goods. Not every item has a detailed description of its materials and manufacturing policies, but on each product page you can post questions to the company about their products.
  • Beacon’s Closet: No sale, but I love looking at what’s new in the online shop.
    • About the brand: A well-curated resale store, stocking lots of vintage and designer goods for affordable prices.
  • Brook There: 40 percent off using code SUMMER40
    • About the brand: Silk and organic cotton lingerie made in the USA.
  • Hanna Broer: No sale, but I’ve been coveting some more of their items after I bought a bralette and undies from them last year!
    • About the brand: Organic-cotton underwear and recycled-polyester swimsuits made in Vermont. I love that their models are a variety of sizes and ethnicities; diversity is important!!
  • Hazel & Rose: 30 percent off through Tuesday using code HBDUSA
    • About the brand: A boutique that stocks eco-friendly and ethically manufactured beauty products and clothing from a variety of brands.
  • Pact: 40 percent off sitewide! (Click “apply offer” in the little green banner that pops up on the top of the homepage.)
    • About the brand: Underwear and cotton basics made with organic and fair trade cotton! I have their boyshorts and they’re extremely comfortable. M. has their boxers, and they are very flattering. 😉
  • People Tree: Large sale section!
    • About the brand: UK-based clothing brand; modern styles for men and women, typically made with organic cotton and fair-trade practices.
  • Tradlands: 10% off of select items! Click the link on their front page.
    • About the brand: Shirts made especially for women; made in the USA, some items are made with organic cotton.
  • Zero Waste Daniel: There isn’t a sale, but I’ve been wanting something from this brand for a while now.
    • About the brand: They make basics out of 100 percent scrap materials discarded by Brooklyn factories!

Time to start browsing. . . 😀 I hope you all have a safe and happy week!

❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

Time-Traveling

Hello, hello. Welcome to my denim uniform:

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I’m visiting from the seventies. I was all ready to go out for a night on the town when some force pulled me into this weird future. I met the 2017 version of myself, who told me that I’m not actually going to go out and have fun tonight because we have a gigantic freelance project to do. She was very mean and gave me a lecture about the importance of hard work. Then she shoved a giant stack of papers in my hands, said “good luck,” and ran out the door.

I’m glad I was wearing sunglasses, so I could maintain my cool-girl look while tears rolled down my cheeks at the thought of doing work on a Saturday night.

In all seriousness, I actually do have a lot of work to do. It’s all my fault, really. I wanted to have some extra pocket money (especially since I have a major and expensive dental procedure coming up) so I took on a gig editing a two-hundred-page manuscript. Of course, as soon as I started working on it, I realized how much I hate not having free time. Especially since I’m the type of person who overexhausts herself on everything. Walk up to me on any given day and ask me what I’ve been up to, and I’ll tell you how I’ve been working on five different personal projects in the past three hours. (This may sound like a “humble brag,” but I am actually telling you about a huge flaw of mine, because I never actually finish any of my personal projects on account of my having so many things in my queue.)

I decided I would go work in a coffee shop today, and to cheer myself up I put together a fun outfit. Lo and behold, working in a coffee shop by yourself can be frustrating, because every time you need to go pee you need to pack up and bring all of your stuff with you (I don’t want to risk losing my laptop…). So I decided to try working at home. Now I’m sitting in the kitchen distracting myself by writing a blog post. Sigh.

This is the brooch I wore on my denim jacket today:

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Right now I feel like that person hanging from the rope.

Psst, I got the brooch at a thrift store in Hyde Park. For $3. I love thrift stores. They’re a great place to source unique fashion, and you’re helping keep these items out of the landfill (although not all thrift stores are alike in terms of how they handle unwanted donations, so do your research!).

I actually stopped in a thrift store on my way from the coffee shop (yet another example of how I have procrastinated today) and managed to snap some grainy full-length photos of my outfit:

My usual photographer (M.) is out of town this weekend, hence all of the selfies.

Outfit details: Denim jacket (thrifted); maroon wrap top (US-made); black bralet; air balloon brooch (thrifted); fringe-hem jeans (DIY); western-style brown belt; coral-striped socks; bright red kitten heels (thrifted, possibly vintage, perhaps from the 80s?)

My favorite part of this outfit is my shoes and socks combo:

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Look at that wonderful Waldo witchiness. Plus that fringe!! (You might recognize that fringe from this post. 😀 )

All right, I think it’s time for me to go. I hope you all enjoy your Saturday nights! Wish me luck with mine. . .

❤ S. (a.k.a. aMisplacedPen)

Mushrooms and Fishnets

I’ve been wearing a lot of black lately. Am I mourning my transition into the mid- to late-twenties? the state of the world? tragedies in my personal life? Am I trying to maintain a stereotypical New-Yorker image because I want to play up a part of my identity that I fear I am losing? Am I becoming my mother, who went through an all-black-clothing phase that lasted for at least a decade of my life? 😮

Either way, all-black outfits have begun to feel a lot more natural for me. Besides any psychological purpose that they may serve for me, starting off with a mostly black clothing base allows me to amp up my accessory game. I feel like I have a lot more leeway to play around and showcase unique patterns and shapes in what I wear to accessorize.

This is especially important because I have a huge weakness for unique socks—in the last year of my journey to become a more ethical consumer, my only failing so far has been in the sock department. I had bought a pair of amazing (but not explicitly ethically-sourced. . . ) mushroom-patterned socks a couple of months ago. Not only are they patterned with spore-releasing shrooms, but they also glow under UV light! When I bought them, I was super excited to wear them, but then they sat in my sock drawer for days, then weeks, then months. I kept pulling them out, ready to wear them, then worrying that they would clash too much with the rest of my outfit and putting them away again. I started feeling guilty about having paid for a thing that didn’t quite fit into my shopping ethics and then not using the item at all.

A few weeks ago, as I was assembling an all-black outfit for a dinner with M., I realized that the mushroom socks would add just enough flair to my look to prevent it from being too monotone. The result is the below ensemble:
DSC02699.jpgIt’s been a while since I’ve worn an outfit that I would describe as “fun,” and for me, this outfit was fun (M. called it “spunky”). I had a great night out, and I feel a little more confident about wearing my mushroom socks!

But, after having so many mixed feelings about the purchase of these socks, I think I’m ready to reduce my sock habit. I’ve already made so many changes to my other consumption habits; why can’t I change my sock shopping too? Maybe I’ll even stop buying socks I don’t need . . . Sigh. I think it’s time I start decluttering my closet and donating or repurposing items that have been languishing in there for ages.

Outfit details: Silver-chain tassel earrings (DIY), sheer black silk top with balloon sleeves (from Crossroads Trading), silver bralette (made in U.S.A. by Beyond Yoga, but bought “with tags” from Beacon’s Closet), high-waisted black shorts with gold toggle clasp (from Crossroads Trading), gold leather satchel (from Beacon’s Closet), black fishnets, mushroom socks, maroon leather sneaker-mules (from Beacon’s Closet).

❤ 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.

Five Ways to Show Mother Earth Some Love

In recent years, our planet has received a whole lot of hate. Even with all of the scientific research that tells us we are in the middle of a climate crisis, giant corporations continue to drill for air-polluting fossil fuels, mills continue to dump toxic chemicals into sources of drinking water, and the meat industry continues to factory farm.

Well, Saturday is Earth Day, and I think we need to show this green planet some love. So this Earth Day, I’m going to:

1. Eat a vegetarian meal.

As I’ve mentioned before, research shows that reducing meat consumption can help lower greenhouse gas emissions. I’ve been sticking to my “part-time vegetarian” diet, and I’m not going to stop anytime soon!

2. Compost.

When organic materials (like garden trimmings and food waste) end up in landfills, they create loads of methane, which is a greenhouse gas that is often considered a bigger culprit than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming. One way to keep organic matter out of landfills is to compost. Composting is a process that takes food waste and other organic material and converts it into a rich soil that can be literally given back to the Earth. A few weeks ago, I signed up for a zero emissions composting service in Chicago called WasteNot. They provide you with a (lidded) bucket for your organic materials. You fill up the bucket with food scraps, pieces of your greasy pizza box, etc., and it gets picked up every week or every other week (depending on which payment plan you opt for). Ever since I’ve had the bucket, I’ve really paid attention to how many organic materials I toss into the landfill, from the paper towels I use to clean a dirty table to the trimmings off of the bok choy I cooked for dinner. Thinking about how much organic material I’ve thrown away over the course of my life scares and shames me because I know how much all of that has contributed to the current state of our planet. I hope composting will be a free (or government-supported), nationwide service one day. For now, I’m happy to pay for the services myself and return some nutrients to the earth!

3. Bring my own takeout container.

Sometimes I just don’t want to cook. But takeout can get really wasteful. Not only are you given loads of plastic utensils, your food also comes in a plastic or cardboard container that often isn’t recyclable or compostable (many cardboard food containers aren’t compostable because they have a thin coating of plastic on the interior, and most recycling facilities don’t accept number 6 plastic, which is what styrofoam takeout containers are made of). So I’m trying to bring a small glass container with me whenever I go out to eat. If I have leftovers, I don’t need to ask for a takeout box. I can just pack it in my reusable container and feel good that I haven’t added more plastic to the landfills.

4. Participate in local efforts to clean up the environment.

On Saturday afternoon, I’ll be joining the Chicago chapter of the Sierra Club for one of their annual beach clean ups. I’m excited to help clear away debris from the shoreline, because the less manmade debris that lands in the ocean, the healthier the marine ecosystem will be.

5. Shop smarter.

Nowadays, manufacturing is concerned with quantity more than quality. The idea is that the cheaper an item is, the more people will buy it, and it doesn’t matter if that item falls apart and ends up in a landfill a few weeks later. This model is clearly not sustainable. One way to avoid contributing to this trend of quantity over quality is to buy less, and buy items that are built to last. Another way is to buy secondhand. Much of my furniture is vintage or secondhand. Much of my clothing is too. Buying secondhand saves items from entering the landfill, and, because the items being sold secondhand have clearly lasted long enough to be sold again, there is some assurance of quality over time.

(Pst, Buffalo Exchange, a consignment store that has chains all over the United States, is having a $1 sale on Earth Day! So head over to your local shop and buy some gently used, fashionable clothing. The proceeds will go to the Humane Society and you get to keep some pounds of clothing out of the trash.)

Your turn: let me know what you’re doing to show the Earth some love! 🙂 🌏

❤ 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.

Lady in Red

After the US election results were announced, I decided to become a part-time vegetarian* (in other words, I’m committed to being meat-free for two-thirds of my meals every week!). It’s clear that the current US president and his administration don’t care about curbing climate change, even though the Earth and humanity are at an important turning point. Part-time vegetarianism seemed like a simple way for me to fight back against the wasteful and delusional tendencies of the current government: research shows that eating less meat can help curb catastrophic climate change! How? Wastes from the meat industry pollute waterways and release a lot of methane into the atmosphere; methane is a greenhouse gas, so the more methane that is released into the atmosphere, the more heat is trapped on the Earth’s surface. Additionally, livestock require a lot of grain and water for sustenance, so the more livestock there are, the less water there is to quench the thirst of human and irrigate gas-trapping plants. If each one of us reduces our individual levels of meat consumption, there will be less demand for meat, which means less raising of livestock, which means less methane-producing fecal matter from livestock, less global warming, and more available water.

M. has embraced the part-time vegetarianism diet too. So, recently, M. and I went to the Chicago Diner for a lunch date. The Chicago Diner is a highly praised vegan and vegetarianism restaurant in Chicago, and we wanted to see if the hype was well-founded.

I was in the mood for something fried (because I lack self-control) so I ordered a crispy spicy chicken sandwich:

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It was delicious! The “chicken” patty was crisp and flavorful, with a breading that was much spicier than I had expected. I love spicy food, and whenever I order a spicy sandwich, I’m usually disappointed by how little heat there is. Chicago Diner got it right. I really wanted to try Chicago Diner’s vegan shakes too, but by the time M. and I were done with our entrees, we didn’t have room for dessert.

To go with my environmentally friendly meal, I wore an environmentally and ethically conscientious outfit:

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The choker and mock neck top were made in the United States in sweatshop-free conditions. The sleeveless blazer is an oversized, unlined blazer that I bought from the thrift store and then altered by lopping the sleeves off, binding the cut edges with bias tape, and shifting the button a few inches to the left so it would create a slimmer line when buttoned.

And here’s a goofy selfie for ya (oh yeah, I was wearing lipstick at some point that day…):

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The lipstick is Metallurgy, from Portland Black Lipstick Company. If you haven’t noticed, I love their lipsticks so much! This one is a shiny olive green color over a black base. I only bought a sample size but now I’m debating getting the full tube…

If you’re wondering why I’m so underdressed, considering it’s only March and Chicago is a cooold city, M. and I had our lunch date on a weekend of freakishly warm weather. I think it was in the low seventies (Fahrenheit)! As much as I enjoyed walking around outside without a coat on, those temperatures are a reminder that climate change is real and should not be taken lightly…. More reasons to stick with these new lifestyle choices of mine!

❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

* I know I could do even more by adopting a 100% vegetarian diet. But I don’t want to give up meat entirely because there’s as much of a cultural component in my meat-eating as there is a taste factor. (For example, a lot of dishes that my Mom would make during my childhood involved animal products. I really want to preserve the food of my cultural heritage, and that would be extremely difficult to do if I become 100% vegetarian. Malaysian food is very seafood based and Cantonese food involves a lot of chicken and pork.) I think part-time vegetarianism is a good compromise, and also a more realistic goal. Most of the human population would probably refuse to give up meat entirely, but not as many would refuse to lessen their meat consumption.

The True Cost and the Value of Compassion

I watched The True Cost earlier this year. If you haven’t heard of The True Cost, it’s a 2015 documentary about the fast-fashion industry, conceived of and filmed after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. The filmmakers interview survivors of the collapse, factory workers, activists, farmers, founders of several fashion brands, and factory owners.

It’s a hard movie to watch. The images are devastating and the truths in it are hard to swallow. But whether or not you agree with every single point that is made in this documentary, the larger point remains: we have to acknowledge that we are aiding and abetting in the destruction of millions of lives when we purchase from massive retailers that emphasize excess consumption over human rights.

Fashion is an industry that affects us all. Even if you don’t care one bit about the latest trends, you still wear clothing. And, especially after recent elections and world events, I think we need to reexamine many of our daily actions, including our spending trends. I believe that in order to be better citizens, we all have to be better consumers.

The way fashion operates right now is not sustainable. The cheaper it is to produce clothes overseas, the more our environment suffers from the production of what are essentially throwaway goods: synthetic fabrics from cheaply produced, low-quality clothing pile up in our landfills, and toxic chemical dyes leak into our water and soil. The less we value the work that goes into our clothing, the more our local economies suffer from a culture of consumption that doesn’t concern itself with the people making the goods we purchase: the products on the shelves are conceptually detached from the humans who created those products with their own hands, with their own blood, sweat, and tears, so it becomes easy to ignore what those fellow humans are enduring in the production of these objects, and it becomes easy to forget the need for better environmental and labor regulations. We are all struggling against a larger force of greed.

One of the most consistent arguments that I’ve heard against being a more ethical consumer is that ecofriendly and fair trade brands can be prohibitively expensive. I would say that is not true. (For examples of affordable brands, see the companies tagged as $-$$ in my list of ethical and ecofriendly brands.) I think this “prohibitively expensive” argument stems from the fact that, as consumers, we’ve been trained to value a low price tag above all else. For many of us, a $5 t-shirt is normal. Some people might say they would never pay more than that for a t-shirt. But why is this? It’s because that’s what’s been made normal. Fast-fashion stores thrive on constant, sustained shopping. In order to get the customer to return a few times a month, even a few times a week, trends have to be constantly changing and advertising has to suggest that you are only desirable if you wear the latest trends or if you have a constantly changing wardrobe. And so the customer returns every month, every week, every few days, in order to be this desirable person. And so the stores have more incentive to churn out massive quantities of cheap clothing. And the more we are surrounded by $5 t-shirts, the less we wonder how these items came to be so cheap, and the more we become accustomed to ignoring the human rights violations that make the $5 t-shirt possible.

I think it’s important to start looking at clothes differently. Even if buying ethically made or sourced clothing is a little more expensive than what we have become accustomed to, if we can each reduce the quantity that we buy, then our wallets will still be full and our consciences will be lighter. If we make a point of buying less and buying ethically, brands will have to change their practices to meet the demand.

There are also means of being an ethical consumer that are still “cheap.” If the idea of paying more than $5 for a t-shirt is still difficult to handle or truly financially impossible, you can go to a neighborhood thrift store or consignment shop (ones I like are Crossroads Trading, Buffalo Exchange, Housing Works, or Beacon’s Closet, the latter two of which are pricier but have online stores or auctions). If your clothes and shoes are getting worn out, find a neighborhood tailor or cobbler. Organize clothing swaps with friends or go online to find a clothing swap nearby. Save up to buy higher quality garments and shoes that will last longer, so that you feel less of a need or desire to purchase “throwaway” goods. Wait for sales (most brands have at least one in the summer and one in the winter).

For the past two years, I’ve been on my own sustainable and ethical consumerism journey. I’ve been trying my hardest to avoid the fast fashion retailers (H&M, Forever 21, Old Navy, Gap, Urban Outfitters, etc.) for the past year and a half. Ethical consumerism requires some willpower, but once you start forcing yourself to do it, it becomes second nature. And I fight the occasional urge to browse the fast-fashion racks by reminding myself of the Rana Plaza collapse and of the sisterhood I share with these factory workers (most of them women) overseas. If I really need that physical shopping fix, there’s always my local thrift store.

I’ll leave you with an illuminating quote from Livia Firth, who is featured in one of the segments in The True Cost: “Is it really democratic to buy a tee for $5, a pair of jeans for $20? Or are they taking us for a ride? Because they’re making us believe that we are rich or wealthy because we can buy a lot. But in fact, they are making us poorer. And the only person who is becoming richer is the owner of the fast-fashion brand.”

❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

Blue Velvet

Last month, I officially left my early twenties. I have a lot of mixed feelings about how my mid- to late twenties are looking given all of the events of last year. A part of me wants to ignore the outside world and curl up into a ball. But I’m determined not to give into that impulse, especially since I’ve resolved to be community focused in the upcoming year. Once in a while though, everyone needs a day off. And what better reason to take a day off than your own birthday?

I ended up having three different celebrations, one with my family, one with my friends in NYC, and one with M. in Chicago. For my night out with M., I really wanted to make a new birthday outfit. Then, four days before our special date night, I realized my attempts to make a velvet dress were not going well… The bodice that I had sewn together was fitting poorly, I was exhausted from work and wasn’t sure I’d have enough time to fix the fit, and I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the pattern as I thought I’d be. The fabric was so beautiful though, I didn’t want to just give up…

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The fabric in question. Look at it call out to you!

Fortunately, I still had enough velvet material left for a skirt, and while I was back home in NYC I had made a trip to M&J Trimming and bought some beautiful Belgian elastic with a fleur-de-lis pattern on it, thinking it would make a lovely waistband. A quick and easy gathered skirt was my best bet. The velvet is striking enough by itself, so I knew even with the simple shape the skirt would still have high visual impact. I cut out two rectangles from my remaining velvet, added pockets in the side seams, and then, in place of a serger, used the zigzag stitch on my geriatric sewing machine to attach the Belgian elastic to the gathered rectangles of velvet. Add a few choice accessories, and viola! I felt rather “high fashion”:

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My photographer was not very pleased to be standing for ten minutes in a cold stairwell to take these photos for me…My expression here probably reflects how he felt during the photoshoot.
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Is it just me or is this photo blurry? Perhaps this will be my excuse for getting a new camera…And a tripod to replace my reluctant photographer. 😉

This outfit ended up being an extravaganza of ethical and eco fashion, which made me doubly excited to wear it out. My shoes, bag, and sunglasses are all from various consignment shops. The sheer turtleneck top I’m wearing was made in the U.S.A. My rhinestone clip-on earrings are from Vintage Underground. The rhinestone bracelet on my left wrist is from a thrift store that uses its profits to provide services for disenfranchised men. The watch I’m wearing is almost entirely biodegradable because it’s made (mostly) from wood!

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Some of the aforementioned accessories.

Last, but not least, the silver lipstick I am wearing is Perfect Foil, from Portland Black Lipstick Company. The lipstick is made in the United States from natural materials, and the parent company is a small business founded and run by a woman (a very nice woman, who sent me a personal email to confirm my online order!). I’ve tried two of Portland Black Lipstick’s colors so far, and Perfect Foil is a little bit drier than the other one, but that’s to be expected of such an intense metallic pigment. And even with the intense pigmentation, my lips didn’t feel too thirsty over the night.

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Look how shiny! (If you’re wondering why the texture looks rough, I used a lip brush to apply the color so there’s some weird nooks and crannies in the lipstick surface now…)

To match my outfit’s ethically conscientious attitude, M. and I started my birthday night at Lula Café for dinner. Lula Café has existed for almost two decades and makes a point of using as many local ingredients as possible. For my entrée, I had duck breast with truffle au jus and red rice risotto. It was sublime!

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Then we made our way to The Drifter for drinks and a show. The Drifter is a cozy bar set in a historic space and run by a woman named Liz Pearce. Fun tidbit: it’s actually not as common as you’d think for bars and restaurants to be owned or run by women (like many other lucrative industries, the food and beverage industries are very male-dominated…).

The Drifter appealed to me with their amazing cocktails and cabaret acts throughout the night, including a couple of burlesque performances. Burlesque fascinates me; I waver back and forth between looking at it as male-targeted titillation and thinking of it as empowering performance. It’s easy for me to forget that both of these views are gross simplifications; as with almost everything, there is nuance to be had. While M. and I were at The Drifter, we caught two burlesque acts, both of which were hilarious (one involved the performer’s buttocks moving to the rhythm of Mozart!). While I was sure that some of the people in the crowd were only at the bar to gawk at bared female bodies, the combination of humor and self-assurance that I saw in the women who were performing was definitely empowering to me. I came away with a lot of admiration and a desire to learn burlesque myself!

All in all, I had a really lovely evening. It was a good time to refresh in preparation for the years ahead. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, and I’ll need all the strength I can muster to keep fighting the good fight.

Wishing all of you equality, love, and peace.

❤ S. (aka AMisplacedPen)

Bringing Out My Inner Bargain Hunter

My mind tends to treat Black Friday like its own holiday; when I began to get my own paycheck, I really grew to (1) love shopping, and (2) love deals, and it was fun to have one day a year that really emphasized both. However, when I realized the gigantic fast fashion retailers are not always the most ethical or ecofriendly corporations, I committed myself to buying local, independent, and ethically manufactured.

So today I spent a few hours outdoors browsing the wares of local Chicago businesses, wearing an ethically produced outfit!

Outfit details: The socks are from Sockdreams, and are made in the USA from recycled cotton. The dress/tunic is sewn by me, using a linen-rayon blend fabric and this Burdastyle pattern. I modified the pattern by excluding the sleeves, using different colors for the back and front, removing the buttons and sewing up the button placket seam, and bias-binding any hems/edges. The black long sleeve shirt is something I bought a looong time ago.

(Apologies for the terrible photos, I didn’t have much time or space, unfortunately…)

I had a great time browsing stores in the neighborhoods around me, and bought a nice handmade mug for my Mom at Wolfbait and B-Girls, which had a great Black Friday event where they donated 20% of their proceeds from this day to charities of the customer’s choice.

But now that I am home, most of my evening has been spent wide-eyed over the sales that a few of my favorite Internet-based, ethically and environmentally conscious brands are having. I am super excited to support these businesses as well as my local stores, and I hope you are too. I’ve compiled a list of sales that I am aware of, organized alphabetically for your convenience. So, without further ado, here’s what’s going on:

A

  • Alas: $20 off for new subscribers to their newsletter, until 11/28. Organic sleepwear and athletic wear screenprinted with eye-catching geometric patterns.
  • Amour Vert: 20% off through 11/28, with code GREENFRIDAY. Five trees are planted with every item purchased, until the promotion ends.  Simple silhouettes with unique and eyecatching details, some made in the USA.
  • Apolis: Up to 30% off through 11/28 (head to the sale section). Well-made, utilitarian clothing marketed toward men.

B

  • Bambeco: 30% off sitewide with code CYBER2016, through 11/27. Sustainably and ethically crafted home goods.
  • Baserange: Free shipping on all orders above 150 until 11/30. Luxe underwear and loungwear.
  • Beacon’s Closet: Gift card discounts, on 11/28 only. Details here. Well-curated secondhand clothing and accessories.
  • Beklina: 20% off sitewide with code black2020. Unique items, many responsibly produced.
  • Beyond Yoga: 30% off using code BLACKOUT, through 11/27. Yogawear that can double as streetwear, made in the USA.
  • Brave Gentleman: 30% off footwear, free domestic shipping on orders $400 and up, with code BLACKFRIDAY. Footwear and clothing made with animal-free materials.

D

  • Deadwood: 30% off all weekend. Recycled leather goods, known for their leather jackets.

E

  • Ecoalf: 30% off selected products until 11/28. Outerwear and accessories made from sustainable/recycled materials.
  • Edge of Ember: 30% off non-sale items with code GIVETHANKS, through 11/28. Luxe geometric jewelry.
  • Ethica: Sale on selected items until 11/29. A well-curated boutique with clothing, accessories, and beauty marketed toward women.

F

  • Fibre Athletics: Everything is on sale through 11/28. Ecofriendly athletic wear, made in the USA.
  • First Rite: Save 25% through 11/28 with code GiveThanks. Striking, minimalist clothing marketed toward women.

G

  • Groceries: 25% off through 11/28 with code THANKFUL. Simple basics crafted in Los Angeles, some are specially vegetable dyed. Free shipping on all orders.

I

  • Independence: 20% off through 11/28. Utilitarian clothing and home goods, many made in the USA.

K

  • Kayu: 25% off your purchase with code gobble, until 11/28. Striking clutches and bags made from straw and shell.

M

  • Make It Good: 25% off through 11/28 with code DEALSFOURDAYS. Screenprinted apparel marketed toward women.
  • Miakoda: 40% off everything with code SUPERSALE, through 11/28. Beautiful, simple undergarments and athleticwear, marketed toward women.

N

  • Nau: 25% off and free shipping with code SAVE25, through midnight 11/28. Utilitarian outerwear and accessories made from sustainable materials.
  • Nell & Mary: 25% off through 11/28 with code DEALSFOURDAYS. Striking, screenprinted bags and home goods.
  • Nudie Jeans: 30% off seasonal items (follow the links near the bottom of the home page). Organic, fair trade denim and other clothing, marketed toward men.

O

  • Oak Street Bootmakers: 20% off sitewide through 11/28.  Made in Chicago leather boots and shoes, marketed toward men.
  • Oliberté: 30% off everything until 11/27 at midnight. Leather shoes and accessories from a fair trade-certified factory in Ethiopia.
  • Only Hearts: Spend certain amounts and get a gift card (details on their home page), through 11/27. Beautiful lingerie, marketed toward women.
  • Outerknown: 30% off sitewide, “for a limited time.” Hardwearing clothing with a utilitarian bent.

P

  • Pact: Save 30-70% sitewide, through 11/27. Underwear and basics made from organic, fair trade cotton.
  • Proud Mary: 30% of sales through 11/27 will be donated to NRDC and She Should Run. Clothing and accessories made from beautiful textiles, marketed toward women.

R

  • Reformation: 30% off everything, through 11/28. Flattering, made-in-USA silhouettes, marketed toward women. Items are going fast (a couple of tops I coveted last night were gone in my size by this morning…).

S

  • Sock Dreams: 20% off sitewide with code GETYOURSOCKS, through 11/29. Sock store based in Portland, with its own line of ecofriendly, made in USA socks.
  • Soko: 25% off sitewide through 11/27. Free shipping to the US until 1/1/2017. Simple and stunning brass jewelry.
  • Study NY: Web orders from now until 12/25 will be shipped with a free notebook made from scrap fabric. Bold, oversized silhouettes marketed toward women.
  • Swords-Smith: 30% off with code ENJOY30 through 11/28. Unique clothing and accessories, some made responsibly.

T

  • thread & paper: 15% off through 12/2, with code THANKFUL. Backpacks, tote bags, and pouches made from leather, felt, screenprinted canvas, and/or waxed canvas.
  • Tree Hopper Toys: 25% off and a free ornament with code THANKFUL (not sure when this ends). Handmade wooden toys, puzzles, and decorations.

U

  • Upstate: 30% off with code wavy gravy through 11/27. 10% of web sales this month will go to Planned Parenthood, Earth Justice, and Standing Rock. Unique, shibori-dyed clothing and home goods, clothing marketed toward women.

W

  • Wallis Evera: 30% off. Clothing suitable for the office, made in Canada with sustainable hemp blend fabrics, marketed toward women.

For a more detailed and comprehensive list of ethical and ecofriendly brands (with information on pricing, sustainability, and ethical practices), please check out these lists:

Ethical/Ecofriendly Clothing & Accessories
Ethical/Ecofriendly Home Goods, Beauty, Etc.
Ethical/Ecofriendly Stores, by City

And if you want holiday shopping ideas, check out my previous post. In the end, sales come and go, but responsible company practices are year-round. 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

Ethical Shopping – A Gift Giving Guide

If you’re like me and trying to be a more ethical consumer, shopping during the holidays can become overwhelming or frustrating. It’s hard enough finding ethically and environmentally conscientious items when shopping for myself, but when I have to consider the tastes of someone else, my brain suddenly becomes stuck!

Well, to keep you from feeling the same way, I’ve done a little bit of the work for you. Below are some of my top ethical / ecofriendly gift ideas for any upcoming birthdays and present-oriented holidays. I’ve created a few categories and listed a couple of items for each one. Each category contains at least one “affordable” option ($10 – $60) and one “indulgent” option ($60 – $200). I tried to keep most items gender neutral in tone. I hope this helps you during the holiday grind!

For the animal lover/pet owner:

  • Affordable: Love Thy Beast’s pet toys are made in the U.S.A. from natural or ecofriendly materials. Try their dust “bugs” (filled with catnip) for a cat or their sir fox a lot plush toy for a dog; they’re both adorable!
  • Affordable: Bambeco’s made-in-USA wine charms feature a gorilla, sea turtle, whale, rhino, and elephant, and would make a great gift for the wine and animal lover! If your recipient isn’t a wine drinker, there are also ornament sets, one featuring the same five animals and another featuring a different variety of critters.
  • Indulgent: This beautiful black ombre collar, from Found my Animal, is made in the U.S.A. from hand-dyed rope and vegetable-tanned leather; someone’s lucky pet will be the most stylish creature on the block! Buy the matching leash for a even more stylish set! Bonus: The boutique that sells these collars, Zady, offers free shipping and returns within the U.S.

For the athletic/sporty type:

  • Affordable: American Apparel’s Nylon Pack Cloth gym bag isn’t manufactured with ecofriendly materials, but it is made in the U.S.A. and would be a practical gift for the gym/pool/barre/yoga studio frequenter. Choose a unique colorway, like emerald+silver, to distinguish it in the locker room.
  • Indulgent: Fibre Athletics’s Pursuit Top (available for both men and women) is made in Chicago using recycled polyester and has a slim fit, hidden pockets for when you want to be unencumbered, flatlock seams for comfort, and moisture wicking so that you’ll be sure to stay comfortably dry.

For the baker/cook:

  • Affordable: Nell & Mary’s tea towels are made in Portland, Oregon, using organic cotton, and will help keep the kitchen nice and clean. I particularly like the tropical fruit tea towel in salmon.
  • Affordable: Yellow 108’s limited edition apron is made from salvaged and recycled materials in Los Angeles. Its stylish exterior will protect your favorite baker or cook from the messes of the kitchen!
  • Indulgent: Bambeco’s reclaimed wood and salvaged leather cookbook/iPad holder would look beautiful on any kitchen counter and keeps a favorite recipe propped up and within view.

For the beauty obsessed:

  • Affordable: Rue de Marli’s No. 27 Body Lotion is a nourishing lotion that is made in Canada using natural ingredients. The company has its beginnings in an old bookstore, where the company’s founder became inspired after learning that Marie Antoinette had opened the France’s first parfumerie.
  • Affordable: Flynn and King’s Groom hair treatment is a nourishing serum for the scalp and hair that is made in the U.S.A. using argan and rosehip oils.
  • Indulgent: Rituel de Fille’s Rare Light Luminizer collection offers three different shades that can be applied anywhere on the face or body to add an intriguing glow. According to their about page, all of Rituel de Fille’s offerings are 99% natural. (Psst: They also have amazing eyeshadow and lipstick colors.)

For the DIYer:

  • Affordable: This bookbinding kit will bring out the DIYer’s creativity even after the kit is put together: the resulting blank 60-page journal can be used to jot down ideas for the next DIY project.
  • Indulgent: This recycled cardboard boombox kit will surely provide hours of DIY entertainment. Once the “boombox” is built, it plugs into your phone to deliver music through its German engineered speakers. And because the boombox is cardboard, the recipient can customize the exterior!

For the foodie:

  • Affordable: Raaka’s organic gourmet chocolate bar gift set is made in Brooklyn and includes the flavors smoked chai, mint and nibs, pink sea salt, and coconut milk. Taste buds are guaranteed to be tantalized.
  • Indulgent: Bambeco’s Quattro Stagioni gift set contains four tins of small-batch Italian olive oil in plain, lemon, chili, and basil flavors. Delicious and perfect for dipping some bread into, tossing into a salad, etc.

For the globetrotter:

  • Affordable: Apolis’s leather luggage tag is made in the U.S.A. using vegetable-tanned leather. It features a snap to keep your contact information secure, a buckled strap to keep the tag firmly on your bags, and a beautiful set of natural colorways that will make your cargo stand out in the luggage carousel.
  • Indulgent: Bambeco’s mini cork globe would make a nice decoration for the bookshelf or desk and allow your favorite globetrotter to mark all of the locations they’ve set foot in!

For the homebody:

  • Affordable: Sockdreams’s marled slouch socks are made in the USA from recycled yarn and are perfect for lounging around the house during the cooler months. Bonus: you get free shipping within the U.S.! If you want to make the gift more personal and also get a little crafty, turn the socks into slipper socks using puffy fabric paint and Sockdreams’s own tutorial!
  • Affordable: Nell & Mary’s small lumbar pillow is made in Portland, Oregon, using organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles (for the insert). The sideways rain print will go with a variety of decors, and this cushy pillow will be much appreciated on days when the elements keep the recipient indoors.
  • Indulgent: Lina Rennell’s sheared “fur” throw is made in California from organic cotton and imitates the look and feel of shorn fur without actually being fur. It’s plush and soft, perfect for the person who likes to spend the weekend in bed with a book or a good movie.
  • Indulgent: If you/your recipient are not into the faux fur look, In2Green’s Chunky Cable throw, in aluminum, is another beautiful blanket option that is still soft and luxurious but a little more understated. It’s made in the USA from recycled cotton and polyester!

For the jewelry lover:

  • Affordable: Craighill’s made-in-Ohio Wilson Keyring technically isn’t jewelry, but this brass keyring is so lovely in its simplicity that I couldn’t help but include it here.
  • Affordable: We Dream in Color’s recycled glass beaded bracelet is made in Massachusetts and will add boldness to any look. The goat’s headshaped brass hook closure is an eye-catching detail.
  • Affordable: Soko’s Kazi Cuff features a really unique way to make a quiet but impactful statement. The cuff is personalized, not just with the recipient’s initials, but also with the initials of a woman who has made her mark in Kenya. If personalization isn’t your (or your recipient’s) thing, Soko has plenty of other impactful jewelry in their storeimpactful because this company connects independent artisans to a global market they might never have accessed otherwise. (Check out the Talon and Cord Lariat for a more on-trend gift idea.)
  • Indulgent: Natalie Frigo’s large claw and black lucite necklace looks simple in construction but is sure to make a statement with its long length and large focal point (it’s certainly in my “covet” list for those reasons). It’s made in NYC from recycled brass and vintage lucite.

For the little ones:

  • Affordable: Pact has a great selection of adorable bibs, onesies, beanies, and teeny tiny socks, all made from fair trade, organic cotton.
  • Affordable: Tree Hopper Toys’s Whoa Bots are made near Chicago from sustainably-harvested wood. Each set comes with eight bots, but if you really want to increase the fun factor, buy two or three sets and watch how many configurations the kiddo can put them into. As a plus, with their simple silhouette and neutral colors, the bots can double as a fun display piece.
  • Affordable: For a fun weekend project, this build your own birdhouse kit requires no glue or screws and is made in Athens, Georgia.
  • Indulgent: This reclaimed wood tree swing for one is handmade in Pennsylvania and will provide hours of fun and relaxation for the young and old.

For the outdoorsy type:

  • Affordable: Tree Hopper Toys’s Log Cabin 3D Puzzle brings the outdoors, indoors! Whenever your recipient can’t make it out to the hiking trail, this little cabin, perched on a table or bookshelf, will provide a moment of solace. The cabin, made from sustainably harvested wood, can also be personalized with the recipient’s name (which will be printed/etched into the sign on the cabin’s door)!
  • Affordable: Nell & Mary’s dopp kit, in the cross stitch colorway, features an organic cotton exterior and a water resistant interior, perfect for storing the toiletry basics while camping or hiking!
  • Indulgent: Yellow 108’s limited edition Wander Blanket and Strap is made in Los Angeles using salvaged wool and leather. The green plaid colorway evokes the woods and mountain trails, and the handy carrying strap makes for easy carrying while hiking or while heading to the beach.

For the plant lover:

  • Affordable: This adorable, made-in-Brooklyn terracotta cat plant waterer will keep the recipient’s plants nice and hydrated.
  • Affordable: This beautiful lavender growing kit is made in the U.S.A., the pot is constructed from bamboo, and the lid serves as a drainage dish!
  • Affordable: 1% Talent’s unisex, hand-screenprinted Happy Plant Pocket tee would be great for the gardener or plant lover who wants the world to know how much s/he appreciates our green friends!
  • Indulgent: Group Partner’s made-in-Brooklyn planter has a bold and charming theme, boobs! (There’s also a male form here.) If the gift recipient isn’t one to display the human form in the living room or on the front porch, there’s also a planter with a silly face theme.

For the significant other:

  • Affordable: Pact underwear. Yes, giving your significant other underwear may seem a bit cliché, but wait until you take a peek at Pact’s offerings (men’s here, women’s here). All of their underwear is made with fair trade, organic cotton, which is super soft. I swear by their boyshorts. This is not the traditional sexy lingerie gift; this is a gift all about comfort and relaxation. (Well, actually, it is kind of sexy because that underwear still looks goood.) ($ – $$)
  • Indulgent: But…if you want to go the traditional sexy lingerie route, Only Hearts does ethically made lingerie very well. Make sure your recipient will actually like what’s in the box though; if you know your partner isn’t the lacy underthings type of person, Only Hearts does have a lovely selection of pajamas and organic cotton offerings too. Unfortunately, Only Hearts’s offerings are only marketed toward women. If you are looking for an indulgent option for the more stereotypically masculine, I’d suggest the Flint and Tinder Heritage Boxer Briefs Three-Pack, which is made in America from long staple supima cotton.

For the style guru:

  • Affordable: Oak Street Bootmakers’s horsehair shoe brush. This brush is made in Chicago out of natural materials, and is perfect for a shoe lover or a person who is very fastidious about appearances.
  • Affordable: Baggu’s copper-colored small leather pouch. Baggu’s leather goods are currently all made in the U.S.A., and the simple shape of the pouch combined with the brightness of metallic copper make for a stunning and utilitarian piece. Use it for coins, cards, buttons, you name it. If your recipient isn’t into metallics, there are more subdued colorways, like black or sea glass.
  • Indulgent: Est Wst’s Kullu Scarf. The slate colorway will go with so many different outfits, works with both masculine and feminine styles of dress, and has a simple but striking pattern. And the purchase of this scarf helps at-risk women in Nepal support themselves and their children!
  • Indulgent: thread & paper’s waxed cotton canvas tote is made in the U.S.A. using organic cotton canvas. This simple black tote is both hardwearing and visually intriguing thanks to the waxed coating, and would make a great daily use bag for a stylish loved one.

For the tea/coffee drinker:

  • Affordable: CoffeeSock’s organic cotton coffee filter is made in Texas and can be reused up to a year. Save the recipient a trip to the store during the cold winter months when the disposable coffee filters run out!
  • Affordable: Bambeco’s Milano porcelain teapot is made in Portugal at a factory with environmentally conscious practices and would be a striking addition to a tea lover’s table. Get the matching tea cups for a really generous gift!
  • Indulgent: La Chuparosa’s Xolo Mug is a beautifully sculpted dog-shaped mug that is made by hand in California. It would look just as good in a display case as it would holding hot tea on the kitchen table.

For the writer:

  • Affordable: Michael Roger’s made-in-USA spiral bound notebook is manufactured from recycled paper, with a unique shadow puppet print. An intriguing cover to hide (or enhance) your recipient’s intriguing thoughts. 😉
  • Affordable: Midori’s beautiful, refillable, made-in-Japan brass ballpoint pen is small, with a ring on the end that you can loop a string through, for easy carrying.
  • Indulgent: One of a kind naked wire people bookmarks, which are handmade in Seattle. Why? Because writers need to read too! And isn’t writing about celebrating the human form? Oh wait, I might be thinking of something else…

If you’d like even more ideas, I’ve updated my Guide to Ethical Shopping page. There are now three separate pages that branch off from the main page: one for online retailers selling clothing and accessories, one for online retailers selling beauty, home goods, and other miscellany, and one for physical store locations. I’ve even created a color-coded key! Curating a list of ethically and environmentally conscientious stores has been a labor of love—I’ve been working on this list for over a month! My hope is that it will be a simple and quick resource for those of you who are interested in ethical consumerism. Please feel free to pass the link to this guide along (https://amisplacedpen.wordpress.com/ethical-shopping-cheat-sheet/)!

I’ll continue to update the shopping guide over time (two of the pages are still being revised as I post this!), and I’d welcome any suggestions for things to add to my list. I actually bought a few things from some of these retailers recently, so keep an eye out for some review posts in the near future!

Love,
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.