Meet Jasmine, The Founder Of Ethical Made Easy



We have been lucky enough to meet Jasmine from Ethical Made Easy this year and boy she oozes passion when it comes to all things ethical and sustainable, and we have to say her passion is what kept us asking more questions.
The more we research where our fashion comes from, the more we realise what a monster of a topic this is. From environmental and social costs, landfill, waste water, dangerous working environments & genetically modified materials and that’s just naming a few.
If you are new to these terms, please stick with us while Jasmine breaks it down with some crucial tips to starting our ethical & sustainable journey. After you read these words, do yourselves a favour and watch the Documentary ‘The True Cost’. If this doesn’t make you want to smarten up your choices, please watch it again.

Jasmine1. Can you tell us where/why Ethical Made Easy was born - a little history lesson if you wish?

I think this is the question I get asked the most! I grew up on a flower farm in Northern New Zealand, so I’ve always had a deep appreciation and respect for the environment. I spent my time covered in dirt with gumboots, so my everyday attire was more Bob the Builder than flower girl. Because of this I’ve always been used to not having as many items of clothing as others, and this really formed the foundation of what Ethical Made Easy would eventually grow to be. A few years and an educational and awakening trip to Cambodia later, I’m sitting here with you today!

2. For some of us this is a completely new topic…How would you explain the terms Fast, Ethical and Sustainable fashion?

I don’t think there’s enough room here to delve deeply into all of those terms, but I’ll explain a little about each of them.
Fast fashion is the model through which we have become accustomed to consuming garments. It’s a passive and fast way of consuming, and leaves no connection between the consumer and the person who made the clothing they are purchasing. Basically, fast fashion responds to the idea that there are 52 seasons rather than four, and this mentality has proven to be completely environmentally and socially detrimental.
Ethical fashion concerns human rights. If a brand claims to be ethical it means they have ensured the basic rights of the workers making their products have been and are being met. This includes paying them a living wage (covering everything from shelter to sick leave), and ensuring they are working in a clean, safe, and happy working environment – rights everybody on this planet are entitled to.
For fashion to be sustainable, there are quite a few factors that need to be considered. An important one is the fabric used—how and where the seed was grown, if the fabric has been certified by any legitimate corporations, and its level of biodegradability. Another is the ability for the garment to withstand trends and also where it goes when the owner has outgrown or damaged it. Patagonia is one of many companies that have put a recycling system in place for their products, and swimwear brands like Salt Gypsy and Elle Evans Swimwear are part of the ECONYL Regeneration System. There are many, many environmentally and socially responsible companies putting these measures in place to leave a smaller footprint on this earth, and they are the ones we should all be supporting.

3. What goes through your mind before you buy a new piece of clothing? What’s does a good quality purchase look like to you.

To be honest, I think we need to go back a step before purchasing and think about whether or not we actually need it. We all need to slow down the process between seeing an item and buying it as this is the area that will ultimately be able to turn fast fashion on its unsustainable head. When I see something I like or need I always try to envision how often I’ll wear the piece. If I can’t imagine wearing it more than 30 times then it doesn’t come home with me. If I can, I check the brand, the fabric, the certifications, and I ensure the tran seasonal aspect of it (its ability to be layered in winter, dressed down or up depending on the occasion, etc.). It sounds like such a process but once you know what you’re looking for—or looking out for—it’s as easy as making a cup of tea.

ethical4. In Bangladesh, Rana Plaza factory collapsed, which killed 1,138 people and injured many more in 2013, then the ‘Fast Fashion Revolution week’ encourage millions of people to ask brands #whomademyclothes and demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain but our clothes are still being made by some of the poorest, most overworked and undervalued people in the world. Have you seen an increase in awareness around these topics since you started Ethical Made Easy?

Yeah absolutely! But I also think in a lot of ways, it’s only just beginning. I remember when I first started Ethical Made Easy and had 300 people following my journey, I was so excited that there were 300 people that cared about the same things I did (and still do). I remember thinking that number was the amount of people that could fit in my school hall. To think now that there are over 30,000 people who are keen to learn more and want to make a difference in their individual lives, as well as a collective, is absolutely incredible. I must admit I definitely still think I’m in a bubble. I mean, I only recently learnt about the “Kmart Mums Group” on Facebook. I’m honestly just so happy that other people care as much as I do. It’s so reassuring and uplifting and it’s what gives me the courage to keep on keeping on with Ethical Made Easy.

5. We’ve all fallen victim to fast fashion and still do however the more we educate ourselves on these topics, the more mindful we become ….we know, we vote using our dollar…How do we start to get to know our brands we want to purchase from, and understand their processes in the industry whilst weeding out the companies that are greenwashing?

Thanks to the power of the Internet, particularly social media, there are some fantastic resources so readily available at our fingertips, all we need to do is search and click. Once you know, you know, and you can spread the word about the throwaway mentality our society has become. I’d say the best thing we can do it be active consumers. Look into a company’s background, read about their values (if they have any available to read about), and watch and listen to all the documentaries and podcasts! If a company isn’t being transparent with their processes then chances are that they aren’t acting with ethical and sustainable practices in mind.
Honestly, this is exactly the reason Ethical Made Easy was created, and why we are doing everything we can to grow it as a go-to ethical brand directory. We test products, we check ethics, we write about topics like greenwashing and fabrics, and we try to stay as up-to-date as possible on all the happenings in the fast, ethical, and sustainable fashion spaces. Passion is pushing us—we want to give consumers better alternatives to fashion made within exploitative environments, as well as fashion that has been made with the environment and its finite resources in mind.

6. We feel like most of us want to take those first steps to ensure we tread lightly on mother earth. What is the first tier or importance as consumers when we look at Ethically vs Sustainable made clothing & can you list 5 ways we as consumers can start our own journey today?

Ethical and sustainable companies follow particular processes in order to ensure they are acting in an ethical and sustainable way. It is important as a consumer to acknowledge that we are the ones who are demanding the supply of this clothing, but this knowledge is also powerful. We can harness it to demand change, which is a pretty cool concept if you ask me.
There are so many small things we can all do to start buying a little more ethically and sustainably! In terms of the first steps, we have a great blog post discussing exactly this. To kick the fast fashion habit you can unfollow fast fashion Instagram accounts, unsubscribe from fast fashion companies’ email lists, and slow down the process between seeing a product and buying it. You can also begin by repairing any clothing that needs it rather than just going out and buying a new version, and repurposing what you’ve got after its served its original purpose.

7. We all think (us included) we have been doing a great job giving back when we donate to the second-hand stores/charities but as we learned from your blog ’How to declutter your home without making your stuff someone else's problem’, this is not necessarily the case, and in truth, we may be doing more harm on the environment as they spend millions of dollars each year on landfill. Can you tell us a little more about this and what action we can take to ensure our clothing is donated responsibly?

Most goods and clothing are only useful to op shops if they’re sellable. If not, they’re useless and end up going to landfill (which is where those high fees come from). If you donate washed and repaired clothing then this improves their chances of being sold immensely. You don’t even have to think op shops, though! This is the age of technology, so we have things like eBay, Gumtree, and Depop as alternatives to the op shop. If you know your clothing isn’t going to be sellable, cut them up and use them as rags, toys for your dog, handkerchiefs, and even as wrapping paper! There are limitless things we can do to give a second life to our old clothes.
It’s important to acknowledge that you’re trying, though! Don’t be too hard on yourself if you start to feel a little lost or stuck. We’re all human, none of us are going to be perfect eco warriors 100% of the time, so just be proud that you’re trying to be an active consumer and know that there is always room for a little improvement.

ethical8. For those who love a good numbers crunch…Hit us with some industry figures. We have a feeling you have a few up your sleeve that will blow our mind.

1. The textile industry is the second largest polluter, with almost 20% of industrial water pollution coming from textile dyeing and treating.
2. Levis did a study, finding that it takes 920 gallons of water to make one pair of their 501 jeans. This is equivalent to leaving the garden hose on for almost two hours.
3. We consume 80 billion new (key word, new) pieces of clothing globally every single year.
4. Only 9% of Australian fashion brands pay their workers a living wage.
5.  If a piece of clothing is “unfashionable”, millenials are twice as likely than baby boomers to toss it.
It’s a whole other kettle of fish, but the plastic problem plaguing our environment is absolutely unacceptable. Did you know that 80% of ocean plastic has leaked from land-based sources, and only 9-12% of plastic has been recycled? The good news is you don’t even have to dig through and find the charities worth donating to as a lot of the brands we deal with and feature give a majority of their profit to specific certified charities. You can be buying yourself a piece of beautiful clothing and literally be helping to find solutions to this and other problems.

We don't know about you but our mind is BLOWN.

9. Can you tell us what fabrics have a more positive impact on our environment that we should be investing in and ones we should stay away from and their impact on the environment and why?

In terms of environmental sustainability, hemp is definitely one of the best fabrics to buy. This is honestly a wonder plant. It grows fantastically without the use of any nasty chemicals, its deep-root system aerates the soil for the next crops, and it can produce more fiber than cotton or flax in the same amount of land. Responsibly grown flax (the plant linen is derived from) is also a great fabric to buy. It’s completely biodegradable, and because the whole flax plant can be utilised there is minimal wastage.  
The fabrics to avoid are any that have been made in a lab or that have not been certified by any environmentally focused corporations. Rayon is one to look out for, and also polyester—it’s basically plastic, and we don’t need any more of that on our planet. Honestly just doing research for ourselves is the absolute best way we can all be active, conscious consumers. If you’re unsure of a certain fabric or a company’s use of it, do some digging (or buy through our Ethical Brand Directory!).

ethical10. If you could have anything taught in schools to increase the next generations knowledge and skills to shift to a positive impact on the environment, what would it be and why?

Oh man, so many things. I actually want to say we need to be taught that we aren’t the things we own. I know it’s different and not exactly directly related to ‘don’t buy things you don’t need’, but I know personally for so many years I felt the need to have new clothes for mufti day each year, or to have the latest thing to look a certain way. The fashion industry at large profits off the fact that we feel inadequate because we don’t have the newest thing. But personally, I think if we’re taught we already have what we need within us, then we’d stop looking for external validation and we’d likely be more in tune with the things that make us happy and therefore want to look after it, aka the environment.

Oh we love this answer!

11. One last question we love to ask our friends here at RAW, what is your superpower?

Having the most incredible team around me. I’m only as good as those on my team, and they’ve taken me from being a hot mess, to a slightly less hot mess. Ethical Made Easy wouldn’t be where it is today, and neither would I, without them.

If you want to educate yourself further, jump over to the Resources page at Ethical Made Easy and see what podcasts, books and documentaries Jasmine is recommending. There is a wealth of knowledge on this website!

Follow them on Instagram here.

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