The TFIA would like you to meet Trusted Clothes, who will be guest blogging over the coming months to keep you updated on all things ethical and sustainable across the global Fashion and Textile industry!
This week Trusted Clothes founder, Shannon Schroecker, tells us what the company is all about and what brought Trusted Clothes, a Canadian not-for-profit with a global reach, to life.
I have always been the type of person who would lie awake at night, wondering how to make the world a better place. We put solar panels on our house and diligently sorted our recycling. We grew our vegetables outback and braved the racoons to compost in the backyard. Somehow, though it was never enough.
Our lifestyle is completely unsustainable and we know it. We live in a northern country, and it’s no secret that buying a single package of strawberries in January would contribute more carbon to the atmosphere than I could save in a summer of gardening. Our solar panels generate our electricity, but all winter long we burn natural gas to heat the house. In this part of Canada our winters turn to blazing summer overnight and in a move unique to this part of the world we flip one switch to go from heating the house to cooling it.
Most nights when the kids are finally asleep, my husband and I would settle in to watch the latest Netflix documentary. We learned about everything from the plight of the world's oceans, to captive whales, loss of native seed stock in India and human trafficking in Cambodia. From each one we learned something and vowed to change at least one thing (sorry kids, that trip to SeaWorld is never going to happen!)
My family and I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively, we have seen abject poverty, and extravagant luxury, shockingly often side by side. We have tried hard to educate our kids on the realities of the ways people live and the hard work that goes into creating the things that we take for granted. Always, we stressed that people are equal no matter their race, religion, language or where they were born. But in some respects it is not true. Every single time we buy cheap products that have been mass produced overseas we knew we were supporting an industry that treats offshore employees horrifically due to nothing more than the country they were born in. It is time to practice what we preach and make sure that everyone - no matter where they live is treated fairly and with dignity.
One night we put on a new documentary called "The True Cost" an expose on the abuses in the fashion industry. I am not sure what log I had been living under, but I thought of sweatshops as something that happened way in the past (at least a decade!). I vaguely remembered the Kathie Lee Gifford scandal of the mid 90’s – but, well, who is Kathie Lee Gifford anyway? Wasn’t that all cleaned up then? Apparently not.
But finally this was something I understood. I have worked in marketing I know that a well-run campaign can influence consumer behavior on a massive scale. What if I could use some of that marketing knowledge to run a campaign whose purpose was to have people buy less?
The ideas behind Trusted Clothes were born that night. Since then I have devoted myself full-time to running a company that doesn’t make or sell anything, isn’t fundraising and has never received a grant. My friends and family think I have lost my mind.
So how can we run a massive campaign without a budget? The answer is you. I have reached out, hoping, that people would work with me, and have been overwhelmed by the response. There are people writing content for our blog from every continent in the world, well except for Antarctica – it is hard to type in heavy mittens.
People have reached out to share our content on social media (if you are reading this, get up and follow us on twitter and Facebook right now!) and tell us that they appreciate the work we are doing. I am meeting passionate caring people who have been riding the ethical, sustainable train since long before I was born. I am in awe of their creativity and dedication. Trusted Clothes is not “mine” – it is not about me – it belongs to every contributor, to every retweeter and to every reader. This company is yours.
I have an impossible amount of work in front of me and ideas that are overflowing, but not enough hands to implement them all. One thing I am sure of, I have a renewed confidence that there are many wonderful people out there, and if we all pull together we can solve this problem. So if you have skills to share please reach out to help. But not too late, because now I sleep better.
- Shannon's daughter Melody (age 8) is still young enough to not realise that her friend from Peru will have less opportunities than she will, simply because of where she was born.
- Shannon's son Dylan (age 9) learning just how much work traditional weaving is. He continues to knit and sew at home, and now places far more value on his clothing than he did before this trip.
Thanks for the post Trusted Clothes! We look forward to reading their updates for TFIA over the coming months. If like us, you want to read more, head over to the Trusted Clothes site to see for yourself.
Thanks for reading!