When I started my sustainability project earlier this year, I didn't really know much about what it meant. I knew about recycling and the poles melting, but that was pretty much it. Like a lot of people, I thought fighting for the environment was too big a task, something only politicians and people in power could manage.
But after doing some research and educating myself, I realised there is a lot you and I can do, every day, to make a difference.
Take our clothes, for instance. At first I was beating myself up for not having any organic clothes, and not even knowing what sustainable meant when it came to clothing. Sure I had heard the news about sweatshops collapsing, the poor conditions workers were under and how little they got paid. But I hadn't made the connection between those things and what I bought in the shops. Somehow that very obvious link was missing in my way of thinking.
I remember looking around during the sales in January, not buying anything because it wasn't organic. I was freaking out, thinking; how am I supposed to find new clothes? And I am by no means a shopoholic. I buy very few clothes, and I buy more basic items than fashion items, but still every now and then I enjoy shopping and treating myself.
Then I went home and actually looked at my wardrobe. It is true that my clothes weren't organic or sustainability made, but I have clothes in my wardrobe that are older than my daughter, and she is five. A lot older than my daughter in fact. And most of them didn't cost much at all. But I care for my clothes very well, I buy simple styles that last, and I wear them till they fall apart. I try to avoid synthetics (because I don't like how they feel), and I have a limited colour palette, just because I like it that way. Plus, I have a few vintage items too, that I love to bits, and take care of even more than my other clothes.
So all of a sudden I realised that it wasn't as bad as I had thought. It is not about only buying certain things, or not buying anything at all, it is about being mindful and practical. Do you wear a lot of basic white T-shirts? There are plenty of options for organic versions, so consider it. And when you have fallen in love with that amazing flowery dress, think what you have at home already. Often when we see something we like, we already have something similar at home that we might just have forgotten about. Really look at the item; will you love I as much next season, or will you grow tired of it? Do you really need another pair of jeans? Can you find something at a thrift shop rather than new?
The biggest power we have as consumers is our wallets. Where do you place your money? Who do you support, and what do you demand in return?
I was looking for a new sports bra just the other day, and went into the closest sports shop, picked one from a huge brand up from the rails and thought: that'll do. Then I stopped, asked myself: have you looked for a sustainable alternative? I put the bra back and have ordered another online. I chose to put my money elsewhere. With someone that shares my values, and wants to make a difference too.