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Navigating Target as an Ethical Sourcer

Lauren Malmquist Ethical Fashion Fair Trade Shopping Target

I love shopping at Target! There was a time that I worked next door to our local Target, and found myself traipsing over there up to three times a day (before work for Starbucks, on break for lunch, and after work for anything else I may need.) Since then, I've switched jobs, and opened my mind to more conscious consumerism. So, I don't find myself over there quite as much, but still...I'm the mayor on foursquare. (I've been ousted.)

While I'd always suggest buying local, and fair trade, sometimes a Target run is necessary. Target adapts an ethical sourcing policy, and has been named World's Most Ethical Company in the General Retailer category several times. So, if you're hitting up a big box store, they are the ones to choose. I've come up with some tips for navigating this "super chain" with a little piece of mind.

Clothes:

When I decided to strive towards a more ethical lifestyle, Target clothing shopping was something I really struggled with.  I would walk past the clothing drooling slightly (I'm not ashamed.) I would decide to just peruse really quickly, and from time to time allow myself to make a purchase...and feel like a total hypocrite. Even with their ethical sourcing policy, I felt weary.  But after reaching out to Target's team, I learned that they are making serious efforts towards safety for their factory workers and sustainability (I knew I loved them for a reason.)  Last year, they banned sandblasting in order to insure safety in the production of their apparel products.They have also partnered with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Sustainable Textile Coalition which are made up of retailers that are working to reduce environmental and social impacts. Here's a blog post that Jessica from Target sent me regarding sandblasting. The post quotes Jey John, the lead fabric engineer for denim and wash:

"The factory worker's safety should not be compromised for the sake of fashion" 

Target is not perfect, in terms of Fair Trade. Still, I am thrilled to see such a large company that makes decisions, not just with dollar signs in their eyes, but with the well being of others in mind. Also...I need new jeans. :-)

Electronics:

Next stop after the clothing is electronics (if you take my usual route.) Electronics are items that will be sourced the same whether you buy them from Target, Best Buy...or anywhere.  So unless you're giving up electronics completely, go ahead and choose Target, if you wish.  They often have sales where you receive a Target gift card when you purchase an iPad (for example), plus you get 5% off with a Target Red Card!

Grocery:

Ok, so you've got your electronics in the cart, now it's time to head to grocery {optional trip up and down the home aisle for a quick (or not so quick) swoon. I've styled my home in my head with Target's home goods many times, but you may want to skip it for local, handmade, thrift or DIY options. On the other hand, with the information I mentioned in the clothing section, you could probably throw a couple cute pillows in your cart, and feel good.} Onto grocery...Target is really growing their grocery department, but it's still not quite ready for your full blown shopping trip (well, the one by me at least.) I have still found that I can put together a healthy lunch quickly with a Target stop. I like to grab a bag of their organic blue corn chips, delicious Newman's salsa, and move on to cosmetics.

Cosmetics:

When I speak of ethical, I am usually referring to human rights, but discussing cosmetics brings up another brand of ethical: animal rights. Ethical and organic cosmetics is something that I am just getting familiar with.  Target carries cruelty-free brands such has E.L.F. and Physicians Formula.  I just stocked up on E.L.F, and so far I really like it.

Cleaning Products:

At this point, I usually head to the check out.  I only buy contact solution in the pharmacy section, and I'm not usually the one buying cleaning products.  When I do, I've noticed they have great brands for "crunchy types" like Method and Mrs. Meyers. Onto the checkout.

And now we've navigated Target, in the most low impact way possible. Now, treat yourself with a fair trade coffee at Starbucks.

Have a lovely day!

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