This month, I’m changing it up a bit. We won’t be looking at issues within the production of garments themselves, but rather what happens to much of our clothing once we’re done with them and have donated it to charity.
Oh you thought they’d all be sold and bought by people to reuse?
Welcome to another episode of: Calling out the West and its neo-colonial practices!
Hello friends and welcome to another blog post. Today i’m going to be telling you about the PHB 100% pure organic lip tint- in Raspberry.
PHB recently sent me an email asking for a review of their product and I was really excited about this because I’ve been interested in PHB for a while and if you saw my last video you’d know about the many things that I admire this brand for including being:
and I didn’t even mention that they’re palm oil free and handmade!
I have been using their brow powder and eye liner for a few months. I use these products everyday without fail because I look like a foetus without them and they’ve been the best ethical makeup brand I’ve used to date.
The only thing I would say about the eyeliner is that I use the brush of an old eyeliner to apply it for a smoother look and sometimes do two coats to get it to look as dark as my soul.
Back to the lip tint which boasts the following benefits:
78% Organic Ingredients
Super-hydrating Tinted Lip Balm
Softens and moisturises lips
Long lasting, natural looking colour
With Shea Butter to nourish and protest lips against dryness
Gentle sheen which gives a natural glow
Free from carmine & petrochemicals
100% natural- great for sensitive skin
Vegan, Cruelty Free and Halal Certified
Free from nano particles, parabens, bismuth oxychloride, talc, formaldehyde, mineral oils, fillers, gluten, fragrance, preservatives & GM ingredients.
So I’m interested to see if their absolutely ethical lipgloss could impress me and do the job a brand that isn’t ethically conscious does. Judging from the products I’ve tried before I had high hopes.
I don’t usually wear anything on my lips to colour them because I don’t feel like many colours suit me and I’m also quite shy about standing out with bold lip colours. The only lipsticks I have were bought when I was around 20, when I used to buy the biggest brands. Yes they have lasted me 6 years and I think they still have another 6 years in them. Hopefully they don’t make my lips fall off…
Coincidentally the weekend I received the request from PHB, I had already stated out loud to my friend that I need an ethical lip colour for my growing collection of ethical makeup.
I wasn’t able to choose the colour I wanted but I figured that I’d give it a try anyway! The colours include Blossom, Cranberry, Mulberry, Peach and Petal. When I received the lip tint I loved the casing as it was clean white and a nice size. I was a little bit wary of the colour which at first looks like a metallic pinky purple. It looks very bold and to a wallflower looks a little scary at first glance.
But when I put it on I remembered (literally had an Oh yea! moment) that it was a lip tint and the boldness of the colour transfers lightly on the mouth. It is described as a colour that suits all tones and I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was true for me, and when my sister tried it, it suited her too. It has a shimmer and the pink matches my bottom lip so it basically evens out my mouth colour with a pink sparkly tint.
The lip tint is very moisturising and feels really good on the lips for a long period of time. I put it on at 12.30pm and then only reapplied at 4pm because it left my lips feeling really soft and cushiony for few hours. Then again I’m not the sort of person who constantly reapplies lip balm anyway, but I reckon it works as well as any good lip balm. For some reason I’ve recently had dryer lips, maybe due to not drinking my 8 cups a day, and this balm has tackled that.
I think this lip tint is perfect for me because of the hint of colour and moisturising effect. It basically what I create whenever I use my lip liner and mix it with vaseline to create the colour and moisturising effect- except is easier and ethical.
So far PHB ethical have impressed me so I think my next and final mission is to get an ethical concealer. PHB ethical gives two free samples of different products with every order over £5 so I chose a bb cream and foundation. Unfortunately they were too light for me but perfect for my sister, so with my next order I’ll be getting a sample of foundation to figure out my colour, with hopes of buying some from them.
Thank you guys so much for reading and if you enjoyed the post make sure to smash that like button and if you want to see more make sure to smash that follow button. Here are our social media handles- @ohsoethical on twitter and instagram. Make sure to check out the next post and we will see you guys a-next time (channeling Safia Nygaard, I figured I’d use her as a guide to review this product since she does them so well!).
If you have followed Oh So Ethical for a while you’ll know we hold swapshops now and then. One thing that really bugs me is when people think they can just donate clothes to us rather than actually take part in the swapping.
Today’s post is about donating clothes and the affect it has on other countries.
Many people want to donate clothes to charity that they’ve only worn a couple times or never even worn once. 30% of clothing in the average wardrobe doesn’t get worn according to research by Wrap. £140 million worth of clothes go to landfills every year in the UK and of the clothes donated to charity shops only 10-30% is sold in the UK. The rest is sold on to developing countries and then sold in their markets. This is how charities make money from unsold second hand clothes.
So if 81% of clothing purchases in developing countries are second hand clothes what does it mean for their own textile and garment industry?
Research by Andrew Brookes (lecturer in development geography) has found that this has led to an 80% fall in textile and clothing employment.
Second hand clothes are cheaper to buy than new clothes but even then they are still unaffordable
Stall holders do not have a choice in their stock so it is a risky business
Foreign clothes do not match the traditional cultural needs
It makes developing countries dependant on the west, preventing them from progressing
So how did this happen?
Although developing countries planned to produce their own goods after colonialism, they have a huge debt to repay to the West, and therefore have had to relax the barriers of trade which had protected factories. Once they were open to imports their second hand industry boomed and their own industries failed and jobs were lost.
“One of the sad ironies of today’s globalised economy is that many cotton farmers and ex-factory workers in countries such as Zambia are now too poor to afford any clothes other than imported second-hand ones from the west, whereas 30 or 40 years ago they could buy locally produced new clothes.”
In 2016 countries in East Africa announced a plan to ban imports of second-hand clothes by 2019. The affect of this will be negative for those who rely on this industry for their income but it will give a chance of their own textile industry and economy to improve. It will give them a chance to develop and reduce their dependancy on the West.
So next time you want to get rid of your clothes consider the consequences.
And next time you want to buy something consider the consequences.
Swapshops are a great way to extend the life of clothes in a conscious way. We should take responsibility of our waste rather than dump it at someone else’s doorstep.
This week Fair Favourites are Maison Bengal. I first spotted these bags at Ganesha in Southbank and then the V&A.
“Maison Bengal was set-up in 2004 in order to help fight poverty in Bangladesh, working particularly with mothers and young women. We work very closely with three fair trade organisations in country, each one best placed to identify the most marginalised communities in their area and provide training in handicraft production. Maison Bengal works with each group separately to utilise their locally grown natural materials and develop their renowned traditional skills. “
On 20th August, Oh So Ethical held its third ethical
swap shop. AND IT WAS LITTTT.
So what exactly is a swap shop?
A swap shop is simply an event where people get together,
bringing any old clothes they’re looking to get rid of, and swapping them for
someone else’s! You can have public swapping events, or even just bring a bunch
of friends and family round and have a swapping party. Remember the good old
saying, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’? Yep. Fully applies to
Ours was held in Leytonstone, with some of the most unique
and stunning pieces that you all donated, all hung up ready to be swapped. We
also sold beautiful fair trade handmade jewellery from Uganda made from
recycled beads and a range of vegan goods- with all proceeds going towards the
Rana Plaza Arrangement. This charity provides financial assistance to victims
of the Rana Plaza collapse and their families.
Waking through the entrance, we had a huge timeline taking
you on a journey from the beginning of
the garment industry in Bangladesh to the state it’s in now. It is actually
crazy to see how fast things have escalated in such a small space of time, but
it also gives us hope that maybe we can slowly undo the damage that has been
In the same room as the swapping we had a display we created from scrap
paper of a Bengali female with her first in the air with the quote ‘The hands
that wear bangles can also carry swords.’ This is a slogan created and used by
a group of female tea workers in India, who mobilised independently from trade unions to
improve their working conditions and increase their wages. These are the women
who define resilience and strength, which is something not usually associated
with women in the Global South in the mainstream media. They are definitely one of
Oh So Ethical’s greatest inspirations and the hashtag #lifegoals never better
fit to be honest (find out more about them here
also had quotes written in red and green hearts (Bangladesh n that)
around our Bengali Queen, with quotes from the Bengali garment workers
interviewed during a protest which took place demanding better
treatment, in the documentary
Udita. By doing this, we wanted to demonstrate that while Bengali women
are going through hell, they are still rising up against oppression and
standing up for their rights with immeasurable amounts of strong-will
and determination. They don’t need our pity, they need our
So why swapshops?
Many of us are becoming familiar with the term ‘fast fashion’,
which simply refers to when high street retailers mimic catwalk trends and
produce these trends at a cheaper cost. Due to various factors such as the ever-evolving
nature of social media and the various fashion weeks that take place, fashion
trends now change every few weeks, as opposed to every few months as before.
Therefore, in order for high street retailers to stay on top of their game,
they must keep up with these trends and produce cheaper versions of these
styles quickly for fashionistas hungry to remain on trend. As a consequence,
while it once took about six months for products to be on the market, it now
takes just weeks.
What’s the big deal?
By demanding new clothes at such a fast pace, in order to
keep up with the changes in trends, this puts pressure on the factory owners
who are expected to produce vast amounts of clothes in a limited space of time.
As a result, garment workers are set near impossible targets to reach daily. If
they don’t achieve these targets the workers (particularly women, who make up
80% of the workforce) are frequently subjected to physical, verbal and sexual
abuse. Many workers report forced overtime, unsanitary conditions, denial of
paid maternity leave, limited toilet breaks, and failure to pay wages and
bonuses on time or in full (read this article for a summary of some of the
horrible things female garment workers must endure http://bkaccelerator.com/9-ways-women-getting-abused-fashion-industry/).
Workers are further put under pressure by the constant competition between
retailers, who compete to see who can produce these catwalk trends as cheaply as
possible. This leads to a reduction in the percentage of income that goes
towards wages and worker’s safety. According to War on Want, the majority of
garment workers in Bangladesh earn little more than the minimum wage, 3,000
taka a month (approximately £25), which is far below what is considered a
living wage, calculated at 5,000 taka a month (approximately £45). This is the
minimum required to provide a family with shelter, food and education.
Not only this, but the impact on the environment is also debilitating.
In fact, fashion is known to be the second largest polluter in the world, next
to OIL! Indeed, the journey of a garment involves excessive amounts of
insecticides, pesticides and dyes which leak into water systems containing sea
life and often the only source of water for families living nearby. Other
environmental issues include the fact that large amounts of water are used up
during production (7000 litres is needed for just one pair of jeans FAM!),
excessive amounts of greenhouse gases (10% of total greenhouse gas emissions) are
released during production and when clothes are being shipped to the West. Not
forgetting the large amounts of clothes going to landfill (as much as 3 out of
4 garments go to landfill, with only a quarter being recycled) as we move from
one trend to the next (read this article to find out more about the impact fast
fashion is having on the environment http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/fast-fashion-drowning-world-fashion-revolution/blog/56222/).
With the world consuming about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year, which
is 400% more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago, imagine the
impact this is having on both the workers and the environment.
You see what I mean?
Now you might be thinking, ‘it’s okay, I give my clothes to
the charity shop/those places that pay for your second-hand clothes’.
Unfortunately, they don’t tell you the whole story behind what happens to the
The fact is, we’re producing and getting rid of clothes at
such a fast pace that even charities cannot deal with the vast amount of
clothes they’re receiving. In fact, just 10-30% of donated clothes are actually sold in the UK. So
where are the rest of the clothes going? Most likely, Africa.
second-hand market is rampant in Africa and takes up
most of the garment industry, with people in many African countries
living by selling our second-hand clothes. In fact, a recent report
found that East Africa alone imported $151m of second-hand clothing last
year, most of which was
collected by charities and recyclers in Europe and North America.
governments in East African countries are now making plans to reduce
imports and even banning them, to reduce their dependency on our often
quality, unhygienic leftovers. Instead, they are preparing their own
industries and training their own citizens in textiles skills, as a more
means of income for their people that is not simply imposed on them for
So as you can see, a simple purchase can have huge
implications on the world around us.
So how’s a swapshop going to change things?
By swapping clothes instead of buying new ones, we are reducing
the constant excessive demands that are crippling and taking advantage of the
impoverished. We are reducing the environmental destruction required to produce
these clothes. We are reducing the amount of second-hand clothes being sent to
African countries and stalling their independence. If we all unite and perform
small acts such as this, imagine the change we could create.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR ACTIONS. EVER.
Thank you to everyone who came down, to Sikandar for the photography,
and to our mums and family and friends who helped out immensely- we had the
best time, and it really motivated us to carry on and hold more, so stay tuned!
We always write about how important we think it is to shop ethically. It could be second hand clothes, fair trade jewellery or buying meats that have been raised ethically.
There are many reasons for this:
We like recycling
It’s good to know something has lasted such a long time
That it has been enjoyed before, that it is being used to its fullest
It’s fun looking for unique products that no one else will have
It’s important that there is a story behind our belongings
Recently I bought a pair of earrings for my mum. It was made from glass found in Bangladesh from broken windows. It’s so cool knowing there is a use for everything you find
It is also because we don’t enjoy the greed that is produced from living in a consumerist society
One reason we dislike fast fashion is because it is unnecessary. Oh So Ethical might love shopping but we don’t like the greed that fast fashion produces. I remember when I worked in a clothing store I was told that every week we get new clothes. At first I thought this was really good but I soon realised how silly this was. Why do we need new fashion so often? Are we that shallow? Fast cheap fashion can make people search high and low for a bargain, but never once consider where the clothes came from. At Oh So Ethical we put ourselves in the shoes of people working unfair hours, with unfair pay and no rights. We put that before what we want to wear.
Whilst we want to promote recycling and fair trade, we don’t want to ignore the work that brands do to be more sustainable and ethical. If we applaud their efforts it will encourage them to move further into the direction of respecting human beings rather than dressing them in cheap pretty clothes.
In a series of posts we will be examining what businesses have done since the Rana Plaza collapsed, asking:
How have they helped those affected?
How do they ensure garment workers are treated well (pay, hours, rights)?
Do they care about the environment?
What is their social impact?
We can start with Primark. Growing up and not having a lot of money, I saw Primark as a great place for a shopping spree. Primark is enormous and you can find anything you want there.
In his book the Song of the Shirt, Jeremy Seabrook writes “The children of the poor in Bangladesh are making clothes for the children of the poor in the west”.
When I realised that the clothes that I had could have been made by someone that has just died making more of these clothes I couldn’t go back. However, since the collapse Primark have made an effort to become an ethically conscious brand.
How have they helped those affected?
Primark was the one of the businesses that took fast action after the collapse. They set up helpdesks near the factory site immediately after the collapse in order to help victims, workers and families
They gave emergency food parcels to over 1265 households
They have worked with local partners in Bangladesh to give long term and short temp help in the form of compensation, financial support and food aid
They are also working with the industry to make garment making safer
In May 2013 they signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, initiated by the IndustriALL and UNI Global Unions
In June 2013 they began inspecting building structures
A Primark spokesman said “We want everyone, especially the workers themselves, to be confident that Primark products are produced in safe factories”.
How do they ensure garment workers are treated fairly?
Primark states that most factory’s pay the same wage regardless of whether the worker is making clothes for a luxury brand or a value retailer.
They emphasise that their low prices don’t mean that they pay low wages.
I always wondered how they can pay a good wage to someone whilst charging so little for clothes. If a shirt is £2.50 how much of it goes towards the person who made it? Primark say that they are able to charge so little because they don’t spend money on expensive adverts, they get good deals by ordering large amounts of supplies and have their clothes made efficiently, for example by sourcing fabrics close to the factory.
And what about safety?
They do not place an order with a supplier until they are inspected against the code. Factories are inspected internally and externally. They also ensure that workers are of legal working age. Their suppliers have to follow a code of conduct where there are good working conditions; workers are treated well, know their rights, learn how to budget and get paid a fair wage. They are also working towards helping workers earn a living wage.
Do they care about the environment?
Primark joined Greenpeace’s Detox campaign and was recognised as a leader on the issue.
Energy saving– They work to reduce the energy used in stores by using green technology like low level lighting.
Environmental Impact– They are working with Our Cleaner Production programmes to help textile factories reduce and respect the natural resources they use.
Farmers– In 2013, Primark started a program in partnership with CottonConnect to help farmers learn better techniques on how to reduce the amount of water and pesticides they use, and how to improve the cotton they grow in order to earn more money.
What is their social impact?
Charity– They have almost raised 3 million euros by donating clothes to be recycled and used it to support disabled terminally ill children and research into birth defects.
Education– Primark also working towards showing communities how important education is for children
Women’s Health– As women make up 80% of the workers Primark has partnered with Business For Responsibility on an initiative that provides health education and access to healthcare. They select a group of women to be coaches in each factory and train them on health needs. These women can then support and train other women. Factories have begun to sell discounted sanitary towels and created links with local clinics and hospitals. As we’re women we can imagine how hard it is not to have things that we consider basic necessities like sanitary towels or have birth control. It does make us respect Primark for the effort they put into women’s livelihoods.
So here is a short list of nice places to shop. Places to find clothes that are ethical, second hand, vintage, handmade and by independent designers. We will add to the list as we discover more but if you need inspiration look no further!
The list will start with Angel! These are a few things I picked up.
Found them at:
Oxfam- 29 Islington high st
The Fara Workshop- 28-32 Pentonville Rd, London N1 9HJ
Brick Lane obviously has awesome vintage shops. These are my favourite:
Blitz- 55-59 Hanbury St, London E1 5JP
Rokit-101 Brick Ln, London E1 6SE
Beyond Retro- 110-112 Cheshire St, London E2 6EJ
The Laden Showroom- The Rib Man, 103 Brick Ln, Greater London E1 6SE
Wood Green has a cluster of charity shop gold. This list goes from Turnpike lane to Wood Green station.
North London Hospice
British Heart Foundation
Dalston also has a a few charity shops I enjoyed visiting when I worked in the area:
Traid- 106-108 Kingsland High St, London E8 2NS
This dress was from Traid. Love it SO much.
Oxfam- 514 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AR
St Vincents- 484-486 Kingsland Rd London E8 4AE
Camden is great for having both vintage and charity in the same place. If you walk from Mornington Crescent towards Camden Market:
British Heart Foundation
Rokit- 226 Camden High St
Only one for Notting Hill at the moment but I hear there are lot’s of places I need to visit!
Mary’s Living and Giving Shop- 177 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2SB
This one has a special place in my heart as I volunteered there for a summer and I loved it there.
I just wanted to put up a post about shopping because I thought I’d try and inspire my friends and whoever else may read this. I feel really strongly about knowing where my clothes come from. I do shop on the high street but keep an eye out for the source. I know there are times when you can’t make sure your clothes are ethically sourced- so this post isn’t about telling people what to do! You need the high street for things like underwear or when you just want something new (I know the feeling). I just think we need to stop relying on the high street for a few reasons-
1. Things that are dirt cheap make me wonder what the person who made it is getting paid.
2. Things that are expensive (at say…topshop/matalan) make me wonder how much the person who made it is getting paid and how much the shareholders are getting.
3. It causes an unhealthy addiction to regular pointless shopping for things we DO NOT NEED. Sometimes you need to treat yourself. Sometimes.
4. Vintage and Charity shops are SO much fun (and you get to be unique blah blah)
So it’s a mixture of things
Love of the old + hate of consumerism + can’t ignore the injustices
I’ve been shopping at vintage and charity shops since I started shopping for myself. I don’t know why but I have this attachment to the past…
At the same time when I was at university I was a huge shopaholic. Couple of the reasons for this are that; I had no friends so spent my time at the shopping centre, and I was under a lot of stress and literally relied on retail therapy. From 17-21 shopping was the only release/fun I had (apart from Twilight and Bridget Jones). I didn’t do music or see my friends a lot…. or even read much.
So I became 21 and then 22 and then the Rana Plaza collapsed. I was sort of discussing it with a colleague who was just like me- The- we can’t do about it so lets just carry on as we are- attitude. Then this one person said what are you talking about…ofcourse you can do something…you’re so stupid (along those lines). It wasn’t that she herself cared about ethically sourced clothes, she just thought that our ‘helplessness’ was stupid. At first I was like what a cow but then i realised the reason I didn’t like what she said was because it’s true. From then I tried to find out if there was a way to go about this issue in abetter way and stayed a little complacent till I went to Primark one day and thought- the person who made this might have died in those horrible conditions. So that stopped me from going back.
While this was happening I was also going through a whole stop wasting your money phase. I had been budgeting for a while and used supermarket.com for toiletries and wouldn’t buy anything unless i absolutely needed or really wanted this (the way i figure this out is to see if i remember the item after a week). I also started to get into the habit of only buying one of each style of clothing (also sticking to one moisturiser and shampoo- lawls). I always try and get different shapes, styles and colours. It’s kind of a Gok Wan approach and I love it. It’s satisfying knowing you have loads of outfits without shopping too much.
When i go into a high street store seeing the MADE IN BRITAIN label makes me so excited. Finding a gem in a second hand shop makes me happy. Infact I’m the same with books. 90% of them are old and smelly. I can spend forever in a bookshop but I will go to ebay and buy it from someone who has already read it. Like i said I can’t explain why I like smelly old books and clothes….definitely about the time period but also the fact that these can be reused and last nearly forever. The Pretty Pickings So here are the pictures of my lovely finds. The places I visit most are -Local charity shops -Wood green charity shops -Beyond Retro -Rokit -Ebay And I visited COW once in Birmingham and bought a great skirt. This is continued on another page as I couldn’t fit all my pictures in. I might upload more as I get them 🙂 So I just wanted to share this first. I think it’s one of the coolest things i have found. It was £1 at my local charity shop. I bought it when was 16 and it’s only been out on holiday twice. It has the initials E.W on the front and inside has thin red floral prints with the last owners address stuck on the back (same area as I live in). SO MUCH HISTORY and now I’ve added a trip to Leeds and Paris to it 🙂
Another cool purchase is this wallet. I haven’t used it yet but I think its amazing. Just look at it.