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A surprising new development hit the fashion scene in the past week – apparently factory workers sewing Zara clothing took the matters into their own hands when they inserted tags into the items reading “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.”

We all heard hundred times that less than quarter of Zara’s parent company facilities pay living wage, we also heard of factories collapsing burying hundreds of workers under the rubble, we heard about landfills of decaying unused items filling the air with poisonous smells.

These facts are both known and horrible but theoretical enough for us to suspend our disbelief…and still buy that low priced dress. Up until now, that is.

Something about that direct message from some girl in the third world country who touched that very same item I’m trying on right now makes it impossible to ignore the absurdities of fast-fashion production.

I mean…I didn’t know about her existence only a minute ago but now she found a way to stretch her hand across thousands of miles and social classes and touch my hand! And now I can’t deny any longer that she exists. What will I find next time I buy a cute outfit at Zara or H&M? A crumbled “help me” note in the pocket? Her picture?

If you are anything like me, you probably are an active, smart and ambitious woman who has a career, great girlfriends and exciting prospects for the future. You probably joined the March on Washington a year ago, you may be shopping in Wholefoods and you definitely got excited when you heard about the minority women crushing it in the elections this week.

So, like me, you are weirded out by the news about Zara because it creates cognitive dissonance in you: how can someone like you support practices like that?

So, here’s a little shortcut to do away with that uncomfortable feeling that something is wrong, but you don’t know how to fix it:

First, understand that you will make a louder statement with your wallet than with any rant you can make on Facebook. You have the money. Money is power.

Second, find areas where you can use that power. Donate to causes? Yes! Support the right political office candidates? Yes! Invest more in your education? Absolutely!

But here’s another one for you that you may be overlooking – when you shop, give your money to those fashion brands that align with your philosophy. Are they abusing women in some distant country? Are they ruining the air for all of us? Are they enriching people you despise? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then don’t give your money to those fashion companies.

There are hundreds gorgeous brands in existence that can dress you for any occasion from work event to red carpet gala. Surprising number of them are owned and run by women. They don’t pollute, they pay fair wages and they make amazing clothes!

If you wonder where to find them, google “sustainable fashion” and visit marketplaces that represent only women-run sustainable brands – is an up-and-coming platform that does just that.

Vote with your wallet!

Victoria Janashvili