Chic for a Cause

At any given moment, opportunities to swipe your credit card (or fork over hard-earned cash) abound -- now more than ever. There’s the seemingly harmless street bazaar that sells factory overruns of big-name brands; a random trip to the drugstore that lets you emerge with bottles of body products; and the seemingly ubiquitous status update on Facebook that leads you to your friend’s e-store that sells bags and cosmetics.

First comes the purchase, then comes remorse over these impulse buys (or “steals”). Don’t fret -- the next time you find an opportunity to browse merchandise, scope the scene for these philanthropic finds. You’ll get your dose of style and, at the same time, contribute to a noteworthy cause.

Help Others Earn
Many products offered by The Body Shop contain marula oil, which comes from the marula tree, native to Southern Africa. Now you can help women living in Namibia by purchasing a variety of these products. The Body Shop trades with Eudafano Women’s Cooperative in northern Namibia, which helps women in rural communities who have very few opportunities to earn money.

Bespoke and Locally Made
Some items are eco-fab simply by the way they’re made. Locally sourced items help ensure that the livelihood of the people who make them are sustained. British-inspired leather satchels from Frannie and Vinnie, for one, are handmade in the Philippines by a craftsman who specializes in saddles and other leather items. Each bag takes three days to make, so you enjoy utmost quality at a fairly competitive price. Buying local, bespoke goods also means you don’t have to pay for overseas shipping, which is great news for your carbon footprint.

Flip for Footwear

Toms Shoes took the world by storm and is arguably responsible for reigniting people’s love for espadrilles and canvas slip-ons. The company’s One for One program (“One Pair Sold = Shoes for a Child!”) gives you free fashion license to splurge on the comfy footwear. The sparkly versions also happen to look great with almost anything!

For more news on soles, popular surfing brand Rip Curl has managed to breathe new life into old neoprene wet suits by mixing them with rubber and creating new footsoles from the process. In addition, products from their Rip Curl Planet label are made with at least 55 percent eco-friendly fabrics, like organic cotton, recycled fibers and other eco-friendly fabrics.

Reuse and Give Away
Speaking of recycling, sometimes you simply have to let go of some things (like that blazer you bought on impulse but rarely ever wore). In Malaysia, the nonprofit organization Pertubuhan Amal Seri Sinar Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (P.A.S.S.) will take some of your old items and reuse them. Profits go to underprivileged communities and the needy.

Check in with your local charity for similar programs. Remember, making room in your closet and giving back are truly chic causes.