15 July 2012

Step Down Sunday - Sevenly

Step Down SundayThough I often focus on our carbon-footprint in Step Down Sundays, that isn’t the only factor we consider. Stepping down is really a path towards ethical and sustainable living, and sometimes you can’t tick all the boxes.

Clothing is one area where I really struggle. The leading edge of ethical fashion is often expensive, hard to find, and not always that comfortable. It's nearly impossible to find clothes that fit me properly when you can only look at a photo on a website, then when you start looking at high street stores you are often just picking the best from a bad bunch.
So when I stumbled across Sevenly I was intrigued. They pick one charity each week and create a t-shirt design inspired by the charity (usually they make two complimentary designs, one for men and one for women). The shirts are a surprisingly good price at $22 (£14) and $7 (£4.50) of that goes to the chosen charity. I was quite impressed that shipping to the UK only cost $8 too. Even when added to the price of the shirt, that's about £20 which I thought was quite competitive for fair trade t-shirts.

The Pros:
  • They help raise money for charity, while also promoting good causes.
  • They are printed in the United States, so there are no sweat shops involved.
  • They are printed on fair trade t-shirts.
  • They are printed to order, so there is no waste or stock to hold.
  • Both the cost of the shirts and the shipping are quite affordable.
  • There are fashionable designs that are positive without being pushy or preachy.

The Cons:
  • There is a lot of shipping going on, which isn’t great. (Shirts are made in Nicaragua, printed in US & then shipped accordingly.)
  • There are only two patterns available each week, so you can’t consolidate you’re purchases into single shipment (unless you buy multiples that week).
I’m also a bit concerned because they are a Christian organisation. Firstly they aren’t a charity, because the rules on charities are so strict and limiting...but that means Sevenly doesn’t have those checks in place. I totally understand why they don’t want the extra red tape, but it is something to keep an eye on in the future.

Secondly I tend to be wary and sceptical of Christian charities/organisations. Personally I think that charity shouldn’t come with strings attached. I believe it should be offered to those in need no matter their beliefs, and I certainly don’t believe preaching or conversion should be required in order to receive help. I’m sure there are many fabulous Christian charities and organisations who do go out purely to give help and kindness to those in need, but there are also many who only offer conditional support.
Will Sevenly ever support an LGBT or Muslim charity? I don’t know. To be honest the charities they support fall into seven main categories: Slavery, Water, Hunger, Aid, Poverty, Medical and Disaster. They seem such basic needs that it’s hard to imagine something controversial appearing, but in any case it always makes sense to research the sponsored charity for yourself.

While there is room for potential problems in future, the work that Sevenly is currently doing looks fantastic, so Mr Goldfish and I ordered a shirt each from their National Autism Campaign. We love the positive ‘Chose love’ message, that was blended into a fashionable design. So often charity shirts are loud proclamations, not really suitable for everyday, but Sevenly’s designs would look quite at home in your local Burtons or Topshop.
They arrived last week and I was really quite impressed. They only took 12 days to arrive, and that includes the time to print the shirts as well as ship them! The quality of the material is really nice and soft and the fit is pretty good – I did have a moment of panic when I saw how low the v-neck went, but hopefully I won’t be flashing my bra too often.

Even though it’s not an especially eco step, I think it counts as a step away from normal high street brands and certainly qualifies as an ethically sound purchase.

Step Down Sunday
Have you made any Steps Down this week?

If you'd like the code for the Step Down Sunday badge or to learn more about it, go to the Step Down Sunday page.