Yo. Here are some things that make me feel uncomfortable:
- “An estimated 300 million people work in the cotton industry – one of the largest agricultural industries in the world”
- “Every year between 1.5 and 2 million children in Uzbekistan are forced to work during the cotton harvesting season”
- “[Government sanctioned child labour] has been reported in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China” (Source: World Vision)
I don’t know about you, but every fibre of my being hates those statistics. However, I believe that it is not good enough to merely be uncomfortable with injustice unless it moves you to action.
As a lover of all things fashion (and as someone who admittedly spends more than I can afford on it), I am challenged to think about how my purchases affect others. The process of creating an item of clothing is more involved than we’d normally consider. From the growing of the cotton to the distribution of goods, one piece of clothing passes through the hands of so many other people before it lands in ours. Can we guarantee that the hands it passes through haven’t been exploited or abused in the process?
I’ve decided upon three ways in which I can become more conscious about my purchases. They are:
01) Buy less – Don’t waste your money on things that you’ll only wear once and forget about later. That’s just logical. But seeing as we’re humans and like to get something out of everything, I’ll give you some reasons – 01) You’ll save a heck of a lot of money; 02) If you’re impulsively buying cheapo clothes that are not ethically made, not buying them is a way that you can personally lessen the demand for the product, therefore taking a stand against unethical processes.
02) Buy better – You know all those pennies that you saved from not buying useless crap? Now you can spend it up on better investment items that you’ll actually wear and use! Yeeeeew. This promotes sustainability and prevents wastage. ‘Buying better’ also means buying more consciously – buying more ethically/‘better’ means better conditions and wages for the person who was so kind as to create that product for you.
03) Buy something with a story – Op-shopping is where it’s at. Op-shops are kind of like sustainable communal wardrobes – you can buy something, then donate it again for someone else to enjoy. It’s a very happy cycle. Plus, it’s rad to own something that has a life of its own. I love thinking about who would have owned my vintage denim jacket before me, and perhaps what has been seen through my second-hand sunglasses. Put a little bit of effort into shopping. Discover something uniquely awesome. (And save money – that seems to be a recurring benefit, doesn’t it?)
I’m on a mission to alter my lifestyle, and hopefully in turn encourage a new culture of ethical consumerism and individuals who genuinely care for the wellbeing and rights of others.
Disclaimer: As opposed to dramatically destroying all unethical pieces in my possession, I’ll still be working with what I already own because not only is the damage is already done, but I believe that this method encourages gradual and sustainable progression.
Join me, won’t you?