Sophia Bush's Crash-Course In Ethical Shopping

by Julia Musto

Everyone's favorite One Tree Hill character has, once again, given us all a reason to be better humans. In a recent interview with Glamour magazine, Sophia Bush dished on ethical shopping this holiday season. The star has frequently used her media presence and career as a platform to inform the public about causes that needed more awareness. Additionally, her activism has been extensive. She works with charities like Pencils of Promise, Do Something, Fuck Cancer, Global Green Gulf Relief, and The Girl Project. So, it only seems fitting that at Bush would urge her thousands of followers to do something that gives back to different communities for the holidays.

Bush recently announced a holiday Instagram giveaway in partnership with the three ethical brands she traveled to Uganda with last summer. 'Grammers can pick an item from 31 Bits, Akola Project, or Sseko Designs, screenshot it, and post it with the hashtag #DearSophia. One lucky winner is chosen every Friday for the next two weeks and will receive their gift of choice. I'm not jealous at all!

This year's Black Friday sales dropped by more than $1 billion, according to The Dallas Morning News, due to shifting habits of shoppers. More and more consumers have started their holiday shopping earlier or turned to the Internet for better deals on Cyber Monday. So, looking for alternate and ethical places to shop is definitely within the realm of possibility for 2015 shoppers!

To be quite honest, I have never really gone out of the way to shop ethically until very recently. This is why we should look to Bush for guidance. We'll feel better about ourselves, we'll give back to others, and we'll find sustainably sourced products that are environmentally friendly! Want to know more? Bush has a few pointers for you:

1. Shopping Responsibly Is Good For Your Carbon Footprint

Bush told Glamour, "When you start looking at ways to change the negative impact that you're having in the market and your carbon footprint, one of the most exciting and inspiring things you can do is get in touch with artisan communities and shop ethical brands."

During her trip to Uganda she told her Insta followers, "Being conscious of what you support, even through such simple actions as buying a bracelet or necklace for a loved one, can literally impact entire communities halfway around the world. The gratitude that these women put into each piece they make is palpable here. Talk about the meaning of 'being made with love.'"

2. You Will Know Where Your Product Is Coming From

A lot of people think of child labor as an archaic practice that was terminated long ago, but that's not the case. Millions of children all over the world still work, according to National Geographic, many of whom are unpaid. "There is so much stuff in the market today," Bush said to Glamour. With big-box stores and online marketplaces offering overflowing shelves stocked with the latest trends — some even at deep discounts — it's all too easy to load up our carts with things we know little or nothing about. Consumers, Bush said, "don't have as much information on where stuff comes from as we have access to that stuff."

During her trip, Bush was able to see and interact with artists who create with love and care. She told that, “The women I am visiting here in Uganda are creating great through fashion (sic). I’m blown away, as we speak about what this means to them, by the sameness of humanity. These ladies make beads by hand… We are a community of female entrepreneurs… Let’s empower each other.”

3. An Ethical Purchase Is An Impactful Purchase

So, now that you are being conscious about the origin of your purchase and how your product is made, what does shopping ethically actually do to help? How would committing to ethical shopping help in the long term? Bush told Glamour that she was optimistic that there would be a positive impact on many negative aspects of the manufacturing industry:

"There are changes possible on so many levels: There's a chance to positively impact the environment by lowering the emissions we're producing, there's the potential to get children out of child labor, there's the potential to take people out of slave labor — this is all major stuff. And most people aren't even aware that the blouse or bag they're buying is supporting any of those enterprises."

How do you start, you ask? Bush has got answers for that too:

1. Google Ethical Brands

Caramel Accent Tote: Tailwind, $259.99, Sseko Designs

We use Google for many things: cat videos, concert dates, math homework answers, stalking our exes, et cetera. But, why not use it to fall in love with an ethical brand like Sseko Designs!

"You can also do a simple Google search of conscious brands," Bush suggested to Glamour. She said that she also often uses the website Conscious Commerce to discover new designers. The website, founded by Barbara Burchfield and Olivia Wilde, highlights ethical products with a positive impact on the environment and local communities. "There," said Bush, "I can look at all of the brands they work with and find companies I know are doing it right."

2. Discover Items On Instagram

Demi Necklace/$86/ Akola Project

"I find that when I am looking at ethical brands' pages, there's a domino effect and I discover so many other options by starting on a single page," Bust admitted to Glamour. Girl, preach. I cannot tell you how many times I was just looking at an Instagram stylite and fell down the shopping rabbit hole like some sort of broke Alice In Wonderland. Screenshotting is your friend, because then you get to lust long term.

3. Find A Cause

Black Ribbon Sandals/$54.99/Sseko Designs

The Storyteller/$58/31 Bits

"For anyone who wants to start looking at ways to turn their shopping footprint into something more ethical, start with a cause that resonates with you and look for brands that support that cause," Bush advised Glamour. Who doesn't want to look good and do good? Crazy people. In the spirit of the holidays, give back to the people who make these amazing products like Bush's special Storyteller necklace for 31 Bits.

I know I've seen many a cute necklace or tote on just these three sites, which means that somewhere out there are many more cute ethical and sustainable purchases to be made. I, myself, have my eye on those black ribbon sandals (cough —Santa — cough). It is Bush's hope that shopping ethically will become more of a regular practice and less of a second thought in the future. But, if you just want to take some style tips from Sophia, why not follow her lead and grab the Sseko Designs travel bag! She dished to Glamour:

"I'll get stopped by someone at the airport who will say, 'I love your carry-on — where is it from?'" Bush says. "And I get to tell the story of the amazing women who made it."