The most difficult part of this journey came as a surprise, which in itself is surprising because it should have been fairly obvious. The hardest part wasn’t getting rid of stuff but adjusting the way I think about getting new stuff – making a conscious effort to discern between ‘need’ and ‘want’, and accepting that paying more for things I really do need is not a bad thing if it means I can get better quality stuff that will last, and that I can sell if I decide it no longer serves me.
You’d think that once you have made a decision that you want to shop a certain way and support certain values it would be easy to adjust your behaviour, but so much of what we do and the choices we make is out of habit that it takes a conscious and deliberate effort to change.
Here are two examples in the last week where I had to give myself a mental kick up the bum to change my buying behaviour:
After clearing out my wardrobe, I was left with a bunch of ‘maybe’ clothes. Every day, I am making a point of wearing clothes I’m not sure about to figure out why I’m not sure about them, and then re-evaluating if they should stay or go. Dresses and skirts I knew loved were in the ‘maybe’ pile and I realised I never really wore them because they was uncomfortable. I’d put on so much weight over the last three years that I had developed ‘chub rub’ and avoided wearing them. I’ve never had chub rub in my entire life – I had no idea it was even called ‘chub rub’ until last week and I had no clue how to deal with it. A bit of Googling revealed a really simple solution that would enable me to wear the clothes I loved again: Bike shorts and a cotton petticoat.
Easy! I’ll just pop to the nearest high street and pick something up! It was an instinct – straight to the high street. Everything was artificial fibre (no thanks) or ‘body shaper’. I came to my senses, remembering I wanted to shop sustainably so Googled around trying to find eco versions but couldn’t find anything. In desperation I turned to Ebay and found exactly what I wanted, used, 100% cotton, from a really good brand, and half the price of the crap from M&S.
I have some black leggings from H&M. They have somehow lasted a year of regular use, but when I discovered a hole in the seam my immediate thought was ‘oh that’s annoying I’m going to have to go out and buy a new pair now’. I had to stop and remind myself that I don’t want to support fast fashion and waste money on cheap, poor quality, which seems to be the only thing you can get on the high street that isn’t ‘designer’. My ex had a saying: ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. I used to call him a snob, but he was right. So onto the internet I went to find some alternatives.
I found a nice pair by a company called Thought that I saved to my bookmarks tab.
Finding sustainable clothing companies that I actually want to buy from is challenging
A lot of their stuff seems to be aimed at one of 3 categories:
The ‘artsy over 50s’ – ladies of a certain age who like to wear big floaty/asymmetrical/ waterfall tops, big jewellery, cropped trousers, birkenstocks and platinum hair.
The ‘nouveau hippy’ – usually found in affluent and ‘trendy’ areas of the city, these girls favour the messy bun and hareem pants, and tell everyone within 10 seconds of meeting them that they’re vegan. If I’m not actually off to a yoga class, I don’t want to dress like I’m still in my PJs.
The ‘eco warrior’ who shuns modern society and dresses like a Peruvian shepherd. While I respect their passion and dedication, I’m not a fan of the style.
In other words, I may be a creative with a conscience, but I am not ‘boho’. And this makes shopping for ethical clothes difficult. If my style was to be labelled as anything it would probably be a hybrid between classic and Scandi. If you know any good companies please do leave me suggestions in the comments box!
It is convenient to go out to a store you know and buy mindlessly – I am sure I am not the only one who has gone into a shop to buy one thing and left with a ton of other things I don’t need or even really want because they caught my eye or were on offer for a limited time. It is not convenient to put time and effort and money into finding that one thing that is made well and fits well from a store that supports your values.
I think if we all thought a little harder about the industries we are supporting and spend a little more time looking for things we really love then we would end up with a lot less stuff and as a by-product have a lot more money and time to spend doing other things we love.
Just in case you were wondering what I did about those leggings in the end – I sewed them up.
After the third time of repairing them I realised they really were dead so I’m ordering the ones from Thought and hoping that at 3x the price of H&M they will be decent quality.