It was a pair of sandals – cheap and nasty for a measly $10. They had potential child slave labour written all over them. But such a bargain! Not particularly comfortable but they looked great with my newly painted toenails. So I squashed down those annoying thoughts about the potential slaves and indulged myself in one last blow-out. After that, I was to take up the challenge of attempting to only buy ethically produced fashion items in 2017. Not an easy or appealing lifestyle change for someone who frugally seeks out bargains and finds satisfaction in paying bottom-dollar.
My conscience had been feeling tainted for a while already. And shopping in certain stores was beginning to repulse me…especially leading up to Christmas, when our over-consuming habits were unashamedly on display for all to see. (Note: If you’re not “getting” my concerns here, then I recommend watching The True Cost documentary, which explains the reasons behind my shopping revolution).
I had no idea where to start when it came to transitioning to ethical shopping, not to mention how I would afford it – given most certified ethically produced clothing labels can cost around four times the price of the equivalent items at Glassons. The idea was all too overwhelming. Then, at the Mainstream Detox magazine launch party, a light went on as Sharon Sitters of Make It Ethical, spoke about changing our mindsets around fashion and our purchasing habits. I realised I needed to actually become more content with the clothing that already fills my wardrobe instead of attempting to simply replace the brands I was buying with more ethical ones. My perceived need to continually upgrade was exposed as simply that – a perception. And the seed of my new year’s resolution was sown.
I decided to set some boundaries around how I shop in 2017 – a way of forcing myself towards greater mindfulness with my purchases. But as with all achievable resolutions, the rules had to offer a little grace.
An offshoot of his commitment to me is that my husband has accepted me just as I am and this is so important. I feel beautiful when I am naked (even when I’m wearing no makeup and have a bloated tummy from pigging out). I don’t feel pressure to perform or to look especially sexy. I like to, and sometimes I’ll put in the effort. But I know that my husband already loves me, and my body is just a bonus.
So how’s it working out for me? Well, shopping (particularly gift-buying), is not as straightforward as it used to be. On multiple occasions, I’ve headed into surf shops intending to buy birthday presents for family members. Then I’ve had to make a quick U-turn as it dawned on me that I can no longer simply purchase something off the rack based on the “it looks good” criteria. I now have a new set of criteria to do background research against. Most off-the-rack items don’t meet my new standards which mean I need to become savvier with knowing which ethical online clothing stores suit my taste and budget. The “Good On You” app is a helpful tool for filtering such stores by clothing range and price. It’s a bit time-consuming and can feel restricting until you find your go-to websites. But on the other hand, I’ve also felt a new sense of freedom bypassing shops with big SALE signs plastered across the windows. Occasionally my concentration lapses and I habitually enter the doors only to realise, “oh yeah, that’s right, I don’t have to do this anymore.” Then I walk away feeling liberated that I saved myself time, effort and money by not even engaging in the quest of finding a bargain.
I’m sure there will also be mixed feelings of deprivation and regret along the way, especially when I see those special items that almost audibly beg to be tried on as if they are made just for me. But overall, there will be satisfaction in knowing that no people were harmed, mistreated or ripped off in the making of the clothes that I buy.