Indigenous: The Importance Of Fair Trade

Fashion is a dirty business.

Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for five percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions? That's equivalent to the impact of the aviation industry  -- equal to the carbon output of all the planes flying around the planet each year.

In addition, the industry is rife with human rights abuses and is a toxic polluter.

Just as what we choose to eat has an impact on our bodies, our communities and the planet, so does what we wear. But while there's been substantial advancement in consumer labelling in the food industry ("organic", "pasture-raised", etc), there's not much of an equivalent with apparel.

The next time you buy an article of clothing, how can you make a choice better aligned with your values?

Here to explain how are Scott Leonard and Matt Reynolds, founders of Indigenous Designs, an organic fair trade fashion company at the vanguard of forcing the apparel industry to become more socially responsible. 


Click the play button below to listen to my interview with Matt Reynolds and Scott Leonard of Indigenous Clothing (45m:23s).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

What an excellent interview, and I very much appreciate this and a very few other clothing companies attempting to better one of our worst industries. I see from your website that Indigenous obviously makes beautiful high quality things I’d love to have. As a former CSA member and a great appreciator of the true cost of necessities, I understand exactly why ethical stuff costs so much. But there is an issue here. We make well over the median for our area. We built our house with our hands, so our housing cost is comparatively low. We grow lots of our food, cut our own hair, forgo cable and household internet, heat and cook with wood we harvest, camp as our vacation, etc, etc to make ends meet. I personally own a single drawer of favorite hard-used clothes. Even though we’re much better off than the majority of people around us and pinched to the bone in other areas, my entire yearly clothing budget is $100. Shoes, underwear, coats, everything. Family total is $400 (one of us needs respectable work attire). I will never, ever be able to afford a $300 sweater. Obviously clothes SHOULD be made the Indigenous way, and companies are hurting us all by making them badly. Which means that the vast majority of us in the richest country in the world already cannot afford to clothe ourselves, even before times get tough.

For most of my life (almost half a century now) 50-80% of my clothes has come from thrift/consignment stores. Occasionally I buy new, and always try to buy locally and thoughtfully. Much of my closet is high end US and European made clothes, thanks to consignment stores in ultra-wealthy areas of the Bay Area (there are now online versions of this). I’ve never understood buying cheap, new “fashion”, no matter your budget.