Danielle: ethical shopper + environmental advocate
Thanks to instagram, I recently discovered Danielle's blog: So Compelled. To put it mildly, I'm a little obsessed with it. The aesthetics are divine and her writing entices you to stay home and read every post in one sitting - it's just that good!
Next time I'm in Seattle, I'm determined to get a cup of tea and learn more from Danielle... she is a wealth of information and inspiration for all things ethical. (Plus her style is simply the loveliest!)
Tell me a little bit about your background…
I’m a Seattle native and dweller. My appreciation for the Pacific Northwest runs deep, and I love exploring this wonderful city and the Olympic Peninsula. I make a home in a downtown loft with my fiancé, Dan, and cat, Rupert. I love baking, tea tasting, cocktail-making, and strolling the farmer’s market.
I completed my undergrad at Pomona College where I studied philosophy (ethics, specifically!). During this time, I became interested in ethics surrounding climate change. Perhaps pessimistically, I’m of a firm belief that measurable and meaningful environmental change stems from policy processes. With this in mind, I attended the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs to study policy and ethics for my master’s degree. I now work for a non-profit dealing with responsible trade policy.
On a daily basis, I work to advance policies that include environmental and human rights protections (e.g. endangered species protections, minimum wage requirements, rights to form unions, etc.).
How long have you been shopping for clothes ethically and what made you decide to do so?
This process has been a gradual one. As I studied environmental ethics in grad school, I became interested in the role of individual contributions to large problems.
Something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about is personal culpability for small contributions to climate change (a large problem that we’re all, in small part, responsible for). If I hope to advocate for environmental solutions, I know I must take measures to walk the walk.
This forced me to examine my shopping habits as well. As an avid (and sometimes impulsive) buyer, I’d conveniently ignored my contributions to a large human rights and environmental issues. It’s eerie to think that with a casual stroll around the mall, I actively sustained an industry supporting particularly egregious labor violations.
What's been the biggest obstacle in this endeavor and how did you overcome it?
A large obstacle I’ve encountered is sheer laziness! I like to tell myself it’s not entirely my fault (nor is it the fault of any traditional shopper): it’s the job of fast-fashion retailers to make the shopping experience seductively easy and accessible.
Unlike other impermissible acts we might be tempted to perform in our lives, we aren’t forced to face the consequences of these shopping decisions. In fact, people can (and do!) shop their entire lives without a full grasp on how the clothing industry is so problematic.
There is no easy fix in overcoming this obstacle – ethical shopping is harder, slower, and more expensive. But just like other lifestyle changes I’ve undertaken (vegetarianism, reduced car use), I’ve found the process uniquely rewarding and worth pursuing.
How would you describe your personal style?
By this point, I’m forced to accept that this is something that’s ever-changing and a little mercurial. But I like to think there are a few pillars that I consistently embrace: neutral colors, clean lines, and sturdy fabrics. There’s nothing I love more than a gigantic cardigan and wooly, patterned socks.
What are your favorite companies or resources for ethical clothing?
Two of my favorite retailers are Everlane and Tradlands. As the ethical clothing niche gains traction and visibility, I’m excited to try new and growing companies with missions aligned with my values.
Seattle also offers an amazing thrift shop scene. I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been a particularly gifted thrifter (as many talented friends exemplify with their treasured finds, it’s a skill), but it’s a wonderfully affordable option.
What's surprised you the most about buying ethically?
Ethical clothing brands offer a surprising dedication to quality. Trawling fast-fashion retailers, I’d almost come to expect that garments were short-lived and destined to die in the wash after a few spins. Ethical brands I’ve tried so far offer a marked improvement that saves me both money and waste. It’s also inspired me to take better care of my clothing, minding label instructions and storing carefully.
Can you offer a piece of advice for anyone who wants to start forming their own ethical style?
Constantly seek inspiration! Maybe I’m just a Stubborn, Annoying Person, but if I do a task because I have to (instead of wanting to), it will never be done as well. Seeking stories and styles and ideas from the wonderful ethical fashion community is motivating and exciting. Turning this task into something artistic and thoughtful adds color and life into the ethical buying process.