Buying a pair of gloves (Minimalism and Ethical Purchasing)


I spent a good part of the last hour of my life, trying to find a pair of fair trade gloves online. Using this list of 'slave free companies', I visited 5 websites: CauseGear, Patagonia, People Tree, Fair Indigo, and Matter (they only sell pants/trousers). No luck. I also had no luck at the Bakewell Christmas Market in the Peak District yesterday. 

Do I need a pair of gloves? No. I have a pair. 

Do I want a different pair of gloves? Yes. 

Does my want warrant the purchase of a new pair of gloves? Yesterday, I decided yes. For a couple of weeks, I was thinking 'no', I have a pair, stick with them. I bought the pair that I have at Poundland. It wasn't the vendor of choice, but the vendor of convenience. I lost one of my gloves (thought I brought from the USA) while in London four weeks ago. It was a particularly cold couple of days and I gave in and went into Poundland to see what they had. I consciously wanted to wait and find a pair at a charity shop, but I didn't know how long that would take me and I decided to value my basic need for clothing/warmth. 

At Poundland, the only pair that I could find that was not pink or purple with sparkles, or superhero patterned, was a pair of dark grey gloves. They weren't my favorite or exactly 'my style', and they appeared to only come in Regular or XL. I didn't want to go much longer without gloves, so I got a Regular size pair and went on my way. I tore the tag off, started wearing them immediately, and I was surprised at how thick and warm they were. You would not find something like that at a Walgreens in the U.S. So I thought to myself: I got a good deal, these are warm enough, and they will last me a long time. I can justify to myself buying something that might be seen as easily disposable, is still ethical because I won't dispose of them readily. 

The next day, I put on my gloves and realized they didn't fit me right. I kept trying to pull them down so the finger pockets wouldn't flap. There's about an inch of material past my fingertips and that doesn't make for easy functioning of my hands. Still, I thought, I can't dispose of them...Three weeks go by and yesterday, I was in the Peak District. It started to snow and I realized the real problem with having extra space between your fingertips and the tips of your gloves is that your fingers don't stay warm when it's really cold. And if you are having to take off your gloves, when its snowing, to do simple tasks that don't require much dexterity or fine motor skills like buckle your backpack waist belt, then your gloves aren't really doing their job. 

Why couldn't I find a pair of gloves after visiting 5 websites? Well, because I have a style and a budget and I'm picky! I am also an anti-slavery activist, so I had to read about the companies and really see if they are slave-free. Even then, I had to refrain from doing all the research that I think someone else has already done to confirm that this company, or at least one line of their products, is slave free. Also, one of the websites only sells trousers/pants. I got tired of looking, so here I am. 

People don't have this type of time to devote to buying things in their life. I certainly don't. I know that my singular decision to spend the time to meet my cost, aesthetic, and ethical preferences will not change broader consumption and purchasing practices. Hopefully this blog and my continued reflections will make some dent. In the meantime, if you find a pair of gloves (not mittens) that are a similar color and style to these People Tree mittens (also pictured above), let me know!

Minh Dang