Anyone else's moral compass struggling to "find north" of late? The voice on your shoulder speaking a little louder and a little clearer? Inspired by a Tumblr post from Zoe Suen, I will be abstaining from buying into "fast fashion" for 6 months.
Is it possible to be 100% ethical? I'm not so sure but, in my opinion, it's about doing what you can, when you can. It's not always easy to break old habits and it certainly isn't always cheap but, if you think of the money that you save on the quick purchase from xyz store (that you will probably have to replace after a few washes), it all adds up and actually makes a lot of sense.
You don't have to be a drug-rug wearing, barefoot bike-riding-while-gnawing-on-raw-chia-seeds hippy to have a conscience. Here are some of my favourite places to find ethically sourced, sustainable pieces that are good quality and will keep you looking bomb.com :
Before you say it, Yes. The price point of some (certainly not all) ethically sourced brands and stores range from "a little" to "considerably" higher than what we're used to spending at our favourite fast fashion retailers. But if we can get past the initial shock of the price tag, we'll begin to understand i.e- if a garment has a super low RRP, what is the cost price? What is the mark-up*? (the amount added to the cost price to generate margin for retailers. Typically, it's 2.5%). Who is paid to make this garment? How much are they paid? What hours do they work to meet consumer demand? How does it get from factory to store?
*Think on it: If a tshirt costs £1.50 at RRP, divide it by 2.5 to get the cost price of £0.60 GREAT. BRITISH. POUNDS. 60p. It costs 60p to pay someone to manufacture and process this throw-away item that will be replaced in however many weeks/months.
Can you still shop? Sure. But now that you're being more selective about where you spend your money, you may find that you're being less frivolous. Here's a short check list of questions that I ask myself before making any purchase (even groceries!):
- Can I live without this?
- Where was this item manufactured/produced?
- What is the longevity of this item - Is it trans-seasonal?
- Cost per wear - Will I get my money's worth?
- Do I already have something similar?
- What can I swap out (donate to charity/second hand shops/resell) to make room for this?
Still with me? Congratulations. This already sounds ~preachy~, something that I wanted to avoid. I am by no means perfect. This is my journey to being as conscious as feasibly possible. I mean, hey, I really like leather. But seeing as we're already here, below is a list of things that I try to incorporate into day to day life. It's pretty easy and it'll be second nature before you know it.
REUSE - I have a box full of jars on my counter top that I wash in the dishwasher (eep! water waste. but i use it no more than 2 times per week), sterilise in boiling water and use them to decant dried goods (sugar, flour, rice, legumes, pasta) into as well as a receptacle for water, smoothies and overnights oats. Keep leftovers in glass tupperware. Reuse tinfoil if it isn't too dirty.
I hate plastic bags but they're pretty useful as mini bin-liners, a protective layer in your bag for food/dirty clothes and for throwing away food waste so as to avoid fruit flies/super smelly bins. They also cost 5p a go, so better get your money's worth *kanye shrug*.
You can reuse nice paper bags as gift bags or to carry things if, you're a snob like me (see above). You can also reuse the free tote bags you sometimes get with purchases to separate clean from dirty clothes when travelling, carrying extra things like laptops, shoes etc. Just wash them to keep them sanitary.
RECYCLE - Find out your local authority's procedure and recycle as much as possible. I keep two bins in my kitchen one for regular trash and one for recycling because get anxiety when I can't do it. You may notice - like I do - that your recycling bin fills up way quicker. If you can, keep your food waste and make compost. You can make your own compost for use in your garden or some local authorities will collect it for you.
SHOP LOCAL - Groceries, homeware, beauty products. It's cool to support local independent businesses as opposed to huge corporations. A lot of them test on animals, use products that can actually be toxic for our bodies, have poor working conditions for employees, the list is endless. This is where things can be a little more expensive/hard to get hold of but it's worth it in the long run if both you, somebody else and the environment benefits from it.
USE LESS - ....Toilet paper. Turn the tap off. Turn the lights off when you're not using them and for godsake, don't leave the shower running.