By Camilla Marais | Culture Editor

As a college student, it is no surprise that I don’t have a surplus of money to spend on clothes. Most of my paycheck goes to food, concerts, and maybe even a pedicure if I’m feeling a little more luxurious. That being said, cheap online sites, such as Forever 21 and other hidden gems with most items under $10, have been my go-to for the last few years. It’s easy, it’s accessible, and it lessens the guilt of buying a new outfit for every event.

Then, similarly to how I become aware of most social justice issues, I watched the documentary “The Dark Side of Chocolate.” This film illustrated the horrible reality that is embedded within our American society. Committed to my low-budget items but horrified by the system my dollars were contributing to, I decided to make a conscious effort to only purchase items that are fair-trade, specifically within the clothes department. While this definitely takes more intentional shopping (I spent many afternoons googling different certified fair-trade brands), there is an impressive selection available in our great country. In terms of reasons as to why fair trade is the way to go, the benefits for humanity as a whole are astounding. Fair trade companies generate funds for their workers. These funds are used to improve the education and environment of the company as well as workers’ communities. Fair trade companies also benefit consumers, as their products are held to certain standards of quality. They also are required to use machinery and practices with the lowest possible environmental impact. Fair trade protects worker’s safety, prevents human trafficking, keeps children out of the work place, and ensures fair wages and benefits.

All that being said, here are some incredible fair trade companies for you to indulge in.

ASOS Eco—The most exciting feature of ASOS Eco is their sub-brand, ASOS Made in Kenya. This collection is made in partnership with SOKO Kenya.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream—As if we needed another reasons to indulge in pints of creamy goodness, Ben & Jerry’s have confirmed that everything in their pints are fair-trade. From their cocoa, dairy, sugar, coffee, and more, this brand is committed to ethical sourcing for all their products.

MY SISTER—The brand states that its mission is “to prevent sex trafficking, educate communities, empower the population, provide after-care for survivors, and offer growth opportunities to at-risk women through the sales of our statement-making, ethically-sourced apparel and accessories.”

Patagonia—Yes, this trending brand is fair-trade! Known for their quality outerwear, the brand is committed to “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, [and] use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” With their activist and environmental focus, Patagonia is a brand we will keep loving.

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