A few weeks ago, in my latest blogpost, I was telling you I’d had enough of shopping and I wanted to start living in a more minimalistic way… well, since that came online, this idea has fed on my anxiety of providing a negative contribution to a world that is already messed up, and grown into an actual commitment against fast fashion and overconsumption. To the risk of turning into an extremist, but with a very good cause, and as a goal to never hurt anything or anyone getting dressed every morning.
© The True Cost
Fashion is among the most devastating industries nowadays, both on an ecological and on a social and economical level. And I don’t know about you, but I’m really fed up with literally carrying this guilt around just because I want another pair of ripped jeans, because it has a slightly different cut than the other ones I have and it only costs 30 euros. And when I get tired of it, it will probably end up in a bag for charity so I can feel better, thinking it will help the less fortunate. But the problem is, we all buy and donate so much crap that most of it will never be worn by anyone anymore, and will end up just being more waste, sometimes even toxic.
© Maya Kate
The worst part is that some brands put a lot of effort into making us believe we can easily change the impact of our consumption, without having to change our habits, thus compensating for our impulsive, excessive and/or shady purchases.
Between the hypocrisy of the organic cotton T-shirts sold by brands that are known for their ‘flexibility’ regarding the control of their supply chain, the initiatives that offer you to “bring your old clothes and we’ll recycle them for you, and you’ll even receive a discount so you can buy even more“, and the “designer” brands that will have you assume that expensive means fair production process (when often, it’s really not), it’s just such a mess that you wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Believe me, I know – I’ve just spent a month researching what options I have left since I decided I would only invest in brands that show honesty and transparency, that I can trust, while still wanting to find beautiful, fashionable pieces (nothing against the hemp harem pants, it’s just not really my thing).
And I discovered so many things, and I’m having such a need to share, that I’ve decided I’m going to spend the next few months making you discover brands that do things the right way. In doing so, I hope I can elaborate some sort of guide for people who would like to take the sustainable path and don’t know where to begin. The idea is that I would test all these brands myself to give you a proper feedback, and that I would do my best to find out everything about their mission, their background, how they work… well, basically anything that you could have questions about. Of course, I will make sure the items I present to you are affordable, as I haven’t gone rich overnight and price remains for me a decisive element – although in all fairness, you should have realistic expectations and forget what fast fashion has put into your head (nope, a wool sweater doesn’t cost 40 euros).
And to allow you to easily find all the contents linked to ethical fashion on my blog, I will group them all under the label Sustainable, which I have created for this purpose, and which will start to fill during the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, let me share with you some basic principles:
- if you want to consume more responsibly, you can just forget about cheap-ass clothing. Primark, Forever 21 and all those are obviously the worst, but ASOS, H&M and Inditex (the group that owns Zara, Mango, Bershka…) or Adidas, Reebok… aren’t that much better, even though they’ve been exposed so repeatedly that they’ve all started programmes that have made them progress – oh and it helps them showing a good face, too. The idea is simple: don’t be naïve, don’t be hypocrite. It’s not because a T-shirt is made in organic cotton that it hasn’t been put together by a girl that works 14h a day in a toxic sweatshop for a 2$ pay. And even if that T-shirt had been produced in better conditions, I don’t want to support a brand that closes its eyes on child labor, use of harmful chemicals and unrespectful work conditions in third world countries, even if they made 20 items that fully respect the environment.
- you can’t really go wrong with second had. Sure, a Mango T-shirt that you’ll buy second hand still probably won’t have been made in fair conditions, but you are getting it through a “recycling” circuit which doesn’t contribute to the capital of Inditex. Well… at least, not directly. Vintage stores, e-shops like Vestiaire Collective, or an app like Depop, closet sales… are a more affordable way to adapt your lifestyle, and it’s a great place to start for smaller budgets (like me).
- don’t hesitate to lead your own little investigation when you have doubts about a brand. During my research, I stumbled upon a great tool, the website rankabrand.org. They list a whole bunch of brands we all know, and detail their level of sustainability on several aspects (respect of human rights, ecology…) to inform you as well as possible and allow you to make conscious choices.
© The True Cost
To be honest, I can’t wait to get deeper into it, and also to hear what you guys have to say! I know some of you are already very aware of these issues, and I hope we can inspire each other and exchange even more in this more engaged direction that I’m giving to my blog. See you very soon!