JBC to the rescue: Fair Wear Foundation

Not buying clothes that are unfairly made and bad for the environment is, of course, easy to say. 

The first few weeks this went well. Every now and then I would have a look in a thrift shop and if I saw something I liked, I would take it with me. This happened very sporadically though, you often have to really take your time to find something here. After a few months I noticed that I started to need new clothes. Finding nothing in a second-hand clothes shop became frustrating and difficult to keep up. This is when I decided to look for another alternative.  

I started surfing the internet and found JBC

Fair Wear Foundation 

JBC – a purely Belgian company that works with Belgian designers and licences – is affiliated with the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF). This is an organisation that strives for better working conditions for workers in the textile industry in countries where garments are made. They stand for fair clothing at a fair price.  

Their points of attention are:  

– No forced labour 

– Free of discrimination in the workplace 

– No exploitation or child labour 

– Freedom of association and the right to join a trade union 

– Payment of a living wage 

– Reasonable working hours 

– Safe and healthy working conditions 

– Legally binding employment contracts  

JBC does not only want to keep good working conditions in mind, they also take environmental measures. For example, they have organic cotton in several collections and they respect the REACH regulations set by the European Union. This means that they do not tolerate any of the harmful chemicals described in these regulations. This is forbidden in all shops in Belgium, but often violations are still found. JBC carries out random tests on their products to make sure that all their clothing is in compliance with these regulations. 

Last but not least, they focus on animal welfare. They only have fur-free collections, but they also do not accept garments made with angora wool or feathers from animals that have been plucked alive.  

Other members of the FWF 

It is thanks to JBC that I got to know the FWF. So besides this shop, there are other affiliated shops in Belgium. Among the first affiliates are Mayerline, ACP, Stanley & Stella and The Cotton group. These companies are the forerunners in Belgium and deserve much more credit than they are currently getting! 

After this, Bel&Bo came into the game 

Since 2017, you can also visit the 8 Belgian brands of the FNG group: Superstar, Limon, CKS, Baker bridge, Fred & Ginger, Kiekeboe, Friday and Hilde&Co. After their first year of operation, these shops received a positive score on their brand performance check report.  

As the last newcomer, the producer of the house brands of e5 fashion (ECG) has decided to join this organisation as well. This amounts to about 70% of the clothing here. It concerns the brands D’Auvry, Liberty Island, l’histoire de Louise, the Libelle collection, Dansaert Blue, Dansaert Black and Deer Island. The external suppliers must comply with the code of conduct, but are not affiliated to the FWF. 

Unfortunately, the Fair Wair Foundation cannot guarantee that the clothing is 100% fair trade. Fortunately, they can promise that a great deal of effort is being made to improve working conditions. 

My first step

A few years ago, in mid-February, I decided to stop smoking. This was my first step to a healthier life. It was at the same time that I wanted to start living more consciously. I wanted to be healthier not only for my own body but also for nature. I also wanted to start taking fair trade into account. As a student, you don’t always have a very large budget available for these changes. I decided to do it all step by step. By quitting smoking, I had extra money left over at the end of the month. Now I could spend it on clothes that were fairly made. This was my first venture.  

Fair trade 

I became more aware of the unfair trade in the world through my sister who pointed me to an article in a magazine. In it, someone said that they would not let their children wear clothes made by children of the same age. My sister told me this while we were shopping in a low budget chain shop. I told her ‘OK, let’s stop buying these clothes’. We put everything back and went to a second-hand clothes shop. Here, to make up for the day, I bought one of the most beautiful skirts I have ever owned. It cost more than the ones I had in the chain shop, but I am much happier with it. Besides, I don’t feel guilty at all.  

I can highly recommend this kind of shop to anyone who is shopping to feel better. These clothes are often of better quality and yet at a reasonable price. I felt good in another way when I bought these clothes. I spent money on clothes and felt like I was doing something good for the environment and people. Win-win. 

Starting a blog 

Since the beginning of 2018, I have been very busy figuring out what products I can buy without feeling like I can’t do anything anymore. Like many people, I like to dress nicely and take care of myself and I certainly didn’t want to give this up. In the middle of 2018, I started writing some posts about my new lifestyle. However, I soon realised that I did not have enough experience to inform others about this and give useful tips.  

Meanwhile, after two years, I feel that my base is already more extensive. I can’t wait to share it with everyone and make the world a little more beautiful for all of us. 

my own place

In the beginning of 2020, my boyfriend and I decided to buy a flat in beautiful Ghent. We are both fairly impulsive and after two months we bought the fifth flat we saw. It was within our budget, had three bedrooms and met my most important condition: living within walking distance of the centre of Ghent. It was a flat that we could move into immediately, but it still needed a lot of work. 

Renovating and furnishing in a sustainable way takes a lot of time. We have to do a lot of research, weigh up the alternatives. And it costs a lot of money. Money that we don’t really have yet as young starters. 

Little by little, we are discovering how we can afford to turn this flat into our home and do so in the most ecological way possible! 

All at once

Sometimes I have days when I suddenly have the motivation to work out ideas. All my ideas, all at once. These days are usually very sunny. I don’t need to tell you that my favourite seasons are spring and summer. 

I would like to work on these ideas all at once. On these creative, sunny days, I never know what I want to do first. Do I want to share my good ideas here with everyone? Or do I write everything down in a book that I can share later? When the weather is nice, I often feel like putting my house in order. A messy house is not so conducive to my outbursts. The biggest disadvantage of Belgium is that you usually only have one day where the sun shows itself. So I have a lot of unfinished ideas and often no motivation to start. 

Today, however, it was such a rare sunny day in Ghent. So today, I am writing here on my blog, writing in the book that I really want to publish one day… and putting my house in order a bit. Tomorrow, when the sun has disappeared, I can get back to figuring out which sunny country I’m going to move to.