(Click here to read the first part of this series.)
In my search for an ethically made bra, I came face to face with the two distinct worlds of justice issues. There are those who are passionate about caring for the environment and then there are those who seek justice for people, and it appeared that ne’er the twain shall meet. I found the sites where collective groups of women in Africa made clothing for fair wages, but used cloth made with environmentally unfriendly practices. Or I found clay-dyed organic cotton bras, but had no clue to how they were made. After e-mailing the company, I might hear back that they care about their employees (whatever that means), but there was no concrete certification that fair practices are used.

Granted, there were a small handful of companies that carried lines of trendy organic fair trade t-shirts designed for the emo crowd. They’re cool, but I needed a bra. Eventually I found a site in the U.K. that carries organic, ethically hand-stitched lingerie. But I needed everyday wear, not five-minutes-in-the-bedroom wear. And I wasn’t willing to pay their $100 price tag either. I knew this endeavor would require more funds than the typical sale bin at the mall, but I had my limits. There has to be a balance between saving a buck at the expense of a worker in a third world nation and throwing one’s money away on luxury items. (And no, I don’t see being an ethical consumer a luxury, just part of living out that whole loving one’s neighbor thing.)
Then finally, after a couple of weeks of fruitless searching, I stumbled across Rawganique.com. It’s a business based out of an off-the-grid island in Canada where they grow their own organic food (eaten vegan and raw), power their computers with solar and wind energy, and promote their products as “a quiet, old-fashioned retreat from the hecticness and rampant chemicalization that are characteristic of the modern, conventional world.” It looked promising. As I researched further, I discovered that their clothing met all of my criteria—they care about the environment and people. And they sell bras (which are actually cheaper than those I typically buy at the mall—ethical and affordable!). Mission accomplished: I found my justice bra.
But why, I have to ask, did I have to dig up some hippie commune sort of place in order to find this? It’s great that they are doing this, but with all the attention justice issues are getting these days, one would hope that ethical shopping would have become a bit more mainstream. What’s the deal? Is it just easy to talk about this stuff and never actually live it out? What will it actually take for us to change the injustices in our economic system and shop for a better world? That’s what I want to know.
And in case you were wondering, I really like my new bra.

Julie Clawson is a church planting pastor in the Chicago area and the coordinator of the Emerging Women blog.
(Click here to read the first part of this series.)
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