ETHICAL, LOCAL & SUSTAINABLE FASHION FOR KIDS// JORYLI ROMIJN

To end off this month's focus on ethical & sustainable fashion, one of my closest friends is sharing her heart on the topic! She was the girl who got me thinking a lot about where my belongings came from and how the people were being treated on the other side. She has such a heart for people and you can see it through how she lives her life! 

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Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Joryli and my husband Sam and I became parents in an unconventional way. We were in guardianship of a 5 year old, and due to life and circumstance he had to go back to live with his biological mom late last year. You can read more on the story here. I’m a casual blogger, event planner, and expecting a baby girl in December 2018! I have a passion to see kids find healthy homes, adoption/foster care, my family, learning different ways and steps to be ethical in the way I live (and shop!) as I follow Jesus in the everyday … and my frenchie Justin (can’t forget him!).

How were you introduced to ethical, sustainable & local clothing? If you use a capsule wardrobe please touch on that. 

My journey of how I was introduced to ethical clothing has really been through studying and reading my Bible. It was a very slow journey, but I had been thinking a lot about the care of orphans and widows (or in other words – people in need). Not necessarily in this order, but I would think about our roles on earth and what’s expected of us as humans, I’d think about how there are so many people that I have and had turned a blind eye to, but are in so much need, and those thoughts and ponderings just kept coming one at a time. Eventually I started thinking about adoption and kids in need, then I started to realize that kids and families in different parts of the world are very much a part of this group as well. 

Long story short, even though I wasn’t sure how to approach it all, I wanted to educate myself. I started by watching the documentary “The True Cost” which is on Netflix – it gives a great informative view on slave labour and fast fashion, and what the differences were. Unfortunately, I didn’t know much about either. I knew it was only going to be a momentary change for me if I didn’t know more, especially because I knew it would get challenging. So I decided to educate myself more on it through different teachings and sources about ethics and the fashion industry.

When my husband and I decided that we wanted to shop as sustainably as we could, we started to do some research on some different brands. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot out there at the time.

However, fast forward to now – there are more and more popping up! It goes to show that each person’s decision to shop ethically really can make a difference. It shows me that what you do and spend your money on can truly make an impact.  

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CURRENT CLOSET STATUS: I’m still making my way to streamlining my closet and keeping it minimal. It’s been a bit of a harder process for me as I’m still figuring out what I need and want. In the past 2 years or so, I haven’t shopped much - rarely at all, so a lot of my pieces are items of clothing I’ve had for a while and just learned to “re-love” and use them in different ways. 

With me being pregnant, and getting bigger – I have had to buy a few pieces to help me as I grow, but I found some ways of reusing older items or I just wear the same thing a few times in a week! 

Ethical pieces can be a lot harder on the wallet, how do you plan for this?

This one was mentally and emotionally hard for me at first as we decided to make the switch. I had been so used to looking for the cheapest deals that when we made the switch to look for sustainable clothing, my wallet was the first thing that slowed me down and held me back. How could I afford all of this stuff? Does it really make a difference? What if I just get this one thing? Is it really worth the switch?

I realized a few things during this process: 

  1. I loved the option of being able to buy clothes whenever I wanted, and it made me physically and emotionally upset in the beginning that I was not able to buy what I want when I wanted. As I felt these emotions, I realized how not only childish it was, but how trained I was by our culture to “buy this now, because you can.” (After talking to some people who made the switch, they also found themselves going through the same batch of emotions)
  2. It was like a drug that needed to be flushed out of my system. Once it was out, I started to realize that I didn’t need as much stuff as I thought I did. I had often said it, or would agree with people about the concept, but my actions proved differently. I just needed to realize it for myself. 
  3. Buying ethically, and sustainably requires a bit of prioritizing. What are you prioritizing? Buying ethically requires for us to be a bit more uncomfortable, and to be okay with going the opposite way everyone else is going. Buying ethically is far beyond getting better quality clothes, it’s seeing past that and seeing the families  - the women, and children who are greatly affected by incredibly low-living wages and unsafe work environments. 
    1. For us as a family it did mean spending our money differently. With some of the pieces being more expensive than what we’re used to spending, it forced me to ask myself if I really needed that piece of clothing or item, if I didn’t I just wouldn’t buy it, then I’d forget about it the next week anyways! If I did really want it or need it, I’d just need to make a few sacrifices to properly save for it – whether it was opting out of grabbing a Starbucks drink, or eating out less. I had to learn to re-prioritize not only my values but also where I spent my money. 
    2. NOTE: The amount of cheap shirts we buy in a month that we barely wear can equal to that one sustainable shirt you love and will wear more often.

How do you plan on including a more ethical & sustainable way of shopping for your babe? How will you address people wanting to purchase things just because they are cute or they have different feelings on shopping. 

As I mentioned earlier, there were not a lot of ethical and sustainable shops (that had cute stuff) when I started, but there are more now, which is great! At the end of the day, I still have to consider if it’s something I really need. Though it is great to shop ethically, it’s actually better for our environment (and us) to shop less. 

The reality is the sustainable industry is still growing; there might be some items that you can’t find yet – in the beginning this was the case for us. We approached it a few ways: 

  1. First, ask myself if we really need it
  2. Is this a company that is making steps toward being sustainable? Can I support that? 
  3. I realize that there are some items that we may need or want but there are no ethical options (for example, iPhones, laptops, etc..) will this be the one item that I will be okay with purchasing knowing that it’s not sustainable? Sometimes the answer is yes, or maybe – and there’s no shame or guilt in that. But it is great to ask these questions first. This has helped me be content with what I have instead of wanting the next new thing, and that’s still a huge step forward!
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As I prepare for a newborn, your community can help!

There have already been some great ladies that have stated what they do from thrifting/second hand, to warehouse sales, to shopping and sticking with specific brands.

One thing that I’ve been discussing with some friends as I prepare for this baby girl to come is gathering a group of friends or a community of parents where we could share/lend/borrow the different items of baby-kids clothing we have to one another. The reality is everyone is in a different season – I’m entering the newborn season, and I have tons of friends that are past that. We would share/lend and give to one another items of clothing we no longer use, for someone who is currently in that season. 

It would require a bit more care to those items of clothing, but we should be doing our best to care for those pieces for it to last longer anyways. 

What about the person who has the oldest? As we give and lend to those that have a younger child, the one with the newborn could invest in pieces of clothing to fit the oldest, and it’ll go in circle. 

This is still in the beginning stages of planning, but as I discuss it with some friends, we’re all willing to give it a try to see what happens! 

This doesn’t fix the problem of ALL of the pieces of clothing, but if it can help maintain how much extra money we spend, then that’s still a win! It means buying less, which is great for our environment as well! 

BUYING A WEE BIT BIGGER:

I also grew up with my parents buying us clothes that were always a half-1.5 size too big, depending on our stage of life. After taking care of our 5 year old, we did that a lot and we had those pieces longer then if we went true to size. 

How do you know what you are buying is ethical? Do you have specific questions you ask?

Yes! If I’m in the store, I do ask the workers to see what they know about the company. We ask a lot about labour ethics, and if there is anything I can read on it. 

Everyone is in a different space when it comes to this. For my husband and I, we have decided that we would like to go as far as organic cotton (to the best of our ability) because it not only affects our environment, but provides healthy work environments for the workers as well. 

If a brand is new to me and I don’t know much about it, even if the workers tell me a bit about their ethics (most of the time they only know general details), I usually go home and read about it first before I make a purchase – if I make a purchase. By the time I get home I forget about the item or it wasn’t that important to me anyways. 

I generally know that it’s sustainable and ethical based on the information they provide about their labour ethics. Buying local is amazing – but I’ve found that there are also some brands out that that aren’t ethical in their labour ethics even if they’re made in the US or Canada. We personally rely heavily on the information on their labour ethics and sourcing of materials.

Raelene JohnComment