I picked up Green Is the New Black at my local used book shop a few weeks ago. While it's filled with a TeenVogue fluff sort of writing style, the guts of it have inspired me to write about ethical fashion.
I'm a poor girl. I was raised in a paycheck to paycheck household. I now subsist off of a paycheck to paycheck sort of lifestyle. We never had designer clothes growing up. I am luckier than my parents budgetwise because I don't have children to support. (Kiddies can be cute, but they’re a black abyss of moneysuck.) So I can occasionally afford fancy beauty products here and there. Green Is the New Black addresses fashion and beauty in that posh Sex In The City “Money- isn’t-an-issue-when-it-comes-to-a-fabulous outfit” sort of way. This is alright, but I'd like to speak up for those of us who can pull off personal style on a shoestring budget. This often means I have to make a choice between cheap affordability vs. quality. Obviously certain cheap items are not made with cruelty-free , ethically sound manufacturing in mind. Sometimes, however, you can budget to get that tube of vegan makeup from an independent business.
I have been thinking of where the products I buy come from. Do starving children make them? Are the resources used to make them going to no longer exist in 20 years? Are they built to break/fall apart in a week? Certainly consumers can’t solve all the worlds problems, but being more aware certainly helps.
Here are a few suggestions that are both budget friendly and ethically sound:
1 Thrifting. Thrift shopping is a full circle ethical activity- Find cool, vintage, lightly used items, which in turn is a mode of recycling. And a lot of places such as Goodwill or Philly Aids Thrift in Philadelphia donate part of the proceeds to the local community or cause of choice.
2 Try to avoid “throw away” clothes. Those leggings that fade and pill after 2 washes will only create more trash to throw away in the long run.
3 Arrange/participate in clothing swaps. These could range from events like Swap-A-Rama-Rama to small parties with friends. It’s a fun and thrifty way to recycle. I have attended a few of these with friends. Not only did I pick up some great things, but they also got me through transitional times when I was unemployed and too poor for even the thrift shops.
4. Bring Your Own Reusable Shopping Bag. I’m happy to see an upward trend in this at the retail location I work at. When I do receive plastic shopping bags I recycle them. They can be used to take lunch to work/school in, and work well as wastebasket liners. The fancier bags can come in handy as gift bags. Even when having things shipped I save the more sturdy boxes and reuse them when shipping things out myself.
6. Try to avoid overpackaging on beauty supplies. If it does have shiny, sparkly packaging aim for recycled or recyclable bottles. Overpackaged products cause a lot more excess waste. Buying them not only encourages the companies to keep making products with excess packaging, but the manufacture of the packaging releases more chemicals into the atmosphere. Basically, it’ll shrink your personal carbon footprint.
In fact, you should track your carbon footprint RIGHT NOW.
In posting this, I hope you take away that I am not being condescending or pretentious. I'm not thinking about these things because it's kitsch, but rather because it's getting harder to ignore that we humans have a shitty impact on our natural resources. I personally slip up due to factors like convenience and budget. Everyone has times where they make the wrong choices. Being mindful of what you're consuming is half the battle.