I was recently on vacation with my family in Hawaii.
When I say family I mean my husband, mom, dad and two older brothers.
The last “family vacation” we took was when I was 16 years old to Disney World.
Needless to say, it was an interesting time to see how our personalities, interests and lifestyles meshed and, at times, didn’t mesh.

I’m sure we can all agree that people are in a state of constant development. Consistently growing, changing, evolving into the product of their beliefs and surroundings. Every person in my family is very different. It was quite interesting for us be together for just over a week, and I am consistently grateful for my husband being there as someone I could escape the generic “family craziness” with.

While on this trip, you best believe my family is on the prowl for deals. You’re on vacation– you take in markets, touristy shops, and all the big shopping centres and outlet malls. As a girl on vacation, it’s often essential to at least go into a store and see how expensive the high end brand names items are (Coach, Prada, Tiffany’s, etc) and compare that with how reduced the prices are at the outlet malls.

But something else occurred…. I found myself standing up for the “over priced” products.

Now I’m not talking overpriced Prada and Gucci purses, or Armani suits, or Channel clothing. I’m talking about the $7.95 chocolate bar and the $24.00 bag of coffee.

These are the items we most often, without a doubt, consistently try to receive the best bargain on. When you go to the grocery store, when you hit up the dollar store, you are looking for the best deal on the little extras we casually supplement our lives (and even our waistlines) with. Should a chocolate bar be only $0.65 or should we be paying $7.95? When you consider the supply chain, $7.95 seems like a small amount to pay for fair wages & labour practices, codes of conduct, transparency, and a company that cares enough about the people making their product to treat them fairly– from picking cocoa to getting it on the shelf. And while I can’t say the company that produced these $7.95 chocolate bars are taking all the necessary precautions, it is a lot harder to imagine that the $0.65 you pay for a chocolate bar is providing even close to the same.

As I make mention of how I now choose to take my business from a clothing company that has a poor. or no, Free2Work rating to a company that does, I am being asked more and more “What is Free2Work?” and “Where am I supposed to buy my clothes?”. People ask those questions sometimes in a mean way– how you get offensive when you are being informed something you have always been doing is not seen as “right” by everyone around you.

Moments like this are a turning point.

You now have the opportunity to share with people about modern day slavery and how it’s literally in the fabric of our clothes. It’s an opportunity to plant a seed with them that their every day choices– the bargain they hunt for, the deals the try so hard to find, are contributing to something they may not have even known existed. To put it simply, you could change someones life by sharing with them the choices you are making and the reasons why.

When people ask where I shop, I love sharing with them the amazingness that is Free2Work and their most recent Apparel Industry Report | From Farm to Factory. Being with NFS at the time this was released and doing their social media posting was a blessing. While the report doesn’t feature strictly Canadian brands, it highlights so many of the brands we all have access to (brands like H&M, American Eagle, Lacoste, Forever 21).

I encourage you to take a look through the report and do two things:
1) Put your new knowledge to action.
Be a more conscious consumer when shopping. The hardest thing can be applying the knowledge you have– when you have a chocolate craving, buy the A or B rated brands, not the D or F rated. When you go shopping for clothes, buy items from stores with A or B ratings, not D’s or F’s.

2) Share your knowledge with others.
The more that people know they can make a difference when they are purchasing their wants and needs will hopefully result in more people making that difference and shopping smart.

When have you explained to someone why you are a conscious consumer? Has this inspired others to do the same?

Polices | Company Performance from the Apparel Industry Trends | From Farm to Factory Report