A GUIDE TO ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE SHOPPING
001. Ethical and sustainable shopping has become a big deal to me in the past year and this is the first time I think I have officially mentioned it on the blog. Ethical fashion and sustainable fashion are two slightly different issues, however they do overlap and correlate to each other very well. I'm going to try my best to give you a run down on WHAT ethical and sustainable fashion is and WHY you should shop ethically and sustainably. There's lots to talk about but I will try to keep it as simple as possible. As consumers we NEED to know the facts about these issues if we want to be conscious shoppers, which is why I think it's such an important issue to talk about.
WHAT IS ETHICAL FASHION?
Ethics are morals and beliefs we follow. Therefore as human beings it should be simple for us to realise that unethical fashion is something that is morally wrong, strips workers of their rights and isn't a fair system. Sweatshops are the first thing that pops into my mind when thinking abut unethical fashion and it is sadly the real life situation of many struggling workers in developing countries. As the consumers though we can stop this. You vote with your dollar. Where you put your money is where you have your say.
The True Cost is a 2015 documentary showcasing the people around the world who make your clothes. This documentary addresses human rights, ethical issues, the environmental impact and how we can buy better. The film really hit home from me when it showed the harrowing juxtaposition of footage between the desperate, poor workers and the disgusting behaviour of greedy Westerners flooding shops for a cheap deal. After watching this your new $15 summer dress isn't looking too great anymore... If you are at all interested in finding out where you clothes come from and no longer want to be a mindless consumer, you MUST watch it.
Recently the 2016 Australian Fashion Report was released by Baptist World Aid. This resource is what you need if you want to find out if the brands you are wearing are ethical or not. It names and shames majority of Australian fashion stores and labels on scale from an A+ to a F-. With this vital information and rating, consumers can find out where they should and shouldn't be directing their shopping habits. If you don't want to supporting poverty, child labour, unsafe working conditions and the overall exploitation of workers then maybe you need to consider NOT buying that $80 sports bra.
Another obvious ethical issue in fashion I need to touch on is the exploitation of animals. FUR is not cool. Wearing the skin of an animal for warmth or style isn't something we need to be doing. LEATHER is not cool. That is literally the skin of the animal stripped off and treated. IT IS 2016 FOLKS! Faux fur and faux leather are totally a cool thing! They are not hard to access, they look just as good (if not better), they are more wallet friendly PLUS no animals had to die in the making of it. I see that as positives all round- why on earth anyone would feel the need to go out and purchase animal skins to feel trendy is beyond me. We shouldn't be exploiting animals for the sake of clothes, just as we shouldn't be exploiting other human beings.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE FASHION?
We live in a society of consumerism; always wanting more, always wanting something new; never content with what we have. Fast fashion is HUGE issue. Trends these days come and go faster than you can blink, and consumers are just as quick to buy and throw away cheap clothes in order to follow these trends. This is the mindset our society is stuck in and it is causing huge ENVIRONMENTAL impacts to our earth.
The fashion industry is the SECOND largest polluting industry. It follows right behind the oil industry. This is insane. Did you ever consider how your shopping habits could be polluting our earth? I for sure did not until more recently. According to the Danish Fashion Institute on top of all that pollution, 25% of chemicals produced worldwide are used for textiles and the industry is noted as the number two polluter of CLEAN water- after animal agriculture.
If you are shopping ethically, YOU GO GIRL! That is an awesome step but it is time to start thinking about shopping sustainably and making your footprint on earth even smaller. If you are still buying brand new clothing and fashion pieces on the regular, you need to be reconsidering where you are sourcing them from. You still want to be trendy and looking fresh as hell? That is possible! Think about supporting small handmade businesses, vintage stores, sustainable companies, op shops and secondhand markets. There is no need for us to keep to producing more and more new clothes, when there is already racks and racks of groovy pieces hanging up everywhere in op shops and vintage stores all over the world!
002. I hope this post has been educational, helpful and not too hard to swallow. We need to change our habits as consumers and we need to do it nowe. I have made a lifestyle change to align with my morals, values and beliefs while still being able to express myself creatively. If you love your earth as much as you love your clothes (which if you don't what the hell is going on!?), shopping ethically and sustainably is the only way to go.
PS. I think I'm going to make a series based around these ideas. Stay tuned for more specific recommendations of where you should be shopping and finding funky new threads!