I was so inspired by the 365 Day Personal Challenge by Christina Dean, Founder of Redress Asia, it had inspired me to attempt this challenge myself. I initially stumbled across the challenge via Eco-Vintage blog, written by Katie Thomas who herself have some very inspirational posts. One of the things I have loved during my research into sustainable and ethical clothing is finding these great bloggers and sites that support this movement also, who inspire me even more on a day to day basis.
However, back to my 90 day challenge…I knew, and anyone who knows me would also have an inkling, that this would be an extremely difficult challenge for me. I am after all a self confessed shopaholic, the proper kind, however on a mission to reduce my slavery footprint. After watching the video almost over a week ago however, I still had the message firmly impressed on my mind.
The solution? I am embarking on a 90 day challenge. This personal mission is to not shop for 90 days. The rules: I wear what I have in my wardrobe and can only purchase from second hand stores if necessary. The reason: To reduce my consumption, recycle my current resources and promote sustainable practices through purchasing already manufactured clothes.
I will keep you posted on my progress…this will NO doubt, be one of the biggest challenges for me however I am committed to doing this.
Approximately 500,000 tons or 1 billion items of clothing are sent to landfill each year – that’s 114,000 per hour and an average of 16 items per year per person. Source: http://www.treehugger.com
I recently stumbled across this pocket sized bible of Ethical Fashion and wished I had found this sooner.
The authors of this book, Helen Coates and Jenny Leach, have put a lot of effort into creating a handy, user friendly and practical guide to ‘Ethical Fashion’. This handy directory, chronicles 100’s and 100’s of ethical and sustainable fashion brands, locations and stockists. It also covers fast facts and tips, raising awareness of the ethical issues surrounding clothing manufacturing and commending the brands that are produced without exploiting the environment, animals and humans.
For example, did you know that the processing of a typical piece of cotton clothing has undergone chemical treatment amounting to a third of it’s weight worth of pesticides, bleaches, chemical fertilisers and other poisons. This processing is so harmful to both humans and the environment due to the fact that these fertilisers and chemicals run into streams and oceans killing natural wildlife and thousands of workers (mostly in developing nations rife with poor human rights and working conditions) die annually due to chemical poisoning. This fact definitely made me think twice about purchasing a cotton t-shirt in the future.
I am definitely not here to preach…only share the information I have found. The issues and resolution for ethical fashion is a slow moving wheel, involving many moving parts in the process. And I am not naïve to think that due to me not buying a cotton t-shirt, I am solving this problem. However I do believe raising awareness will improve this issue. In time, by letting the huge retailers out there know that consumers are becoming more and more aware of these issues, it will lead to, even force, brands to pay attention and start focusing on ethical KPI’s. Consumers will soon demand this as part of the brand offering. Just like when health conscious individuals and trends eventually forced food giants like McDonalds and KFC to focus on healthier alternatives (brands that people said would never cater to that market segment), clothing brands will soon not be able to ignore the voice of their consumers screaming out to produce ethically sustainable fashion.
I know one of the biggest challenges I faced when it came to finding ethically sourced brands, was time and access to information. I started contacting all the key brands that I purchased from and found that it was a very slow and ambiguous process to finding out information regarding ‘how’, ‘where’ and ‘who’ produced their products. Not too mention, and let’s face it, buying ethically sourced products can be expensive and time consuming. However, this little book has made it so much easier for me to commit to buying ethical products when and where I can. It resources a large directory of local brands I had no idea about…that were only a short drive or fingertips away (all hail online shopping).
I recommend a copy for anyone out there who is keen to build their awareness on these issues and also have a quick reference guide to their surrounding ethical traders.
So here is how you can help!! If you need clothes, than please check out my ebay shop to see if I have something you could use. I’d be recycling my clothes on to you, and I’d be donating the funds I receive to slaveryfootprint.org. It’s a win-win for all.
You get clothes, I reduce my slavery footprint (and more closet space) and slaveryfootprint.org get donations to assist them in their goal to create a free world.
I have a wide selection of clothes that I will be listing over the next few months so pop over to my eBay store: yostar81 and check out the bargains.
So fashion runs in the family in the sense that my very talented sister creates fashion, while I… just buy it.
Not long ago I posted that I had to remove temptations from my life help me along the way to my shopping sobriety. And like I said then, I say again…”Easier said then done.”
The first and biggest issue is:
a) I work for an online retailer. I get a great staff discount rate of 40% off.
This is akin to an alcoholic working in your local Dan Murphy’s bottle shop. Or a drug addict working as a pharmacist in a chemist…perhaps? But you get my drift. It’s not easy.
And point b) My sister is a fashion designer.
Sometimes, being the nice sibling that I am, I will help my sister out by being a fitting model. I get to wear her beautiful clothes, see them nearly everyday….it can get quite overwhelming.
Not to mention the daily temptations I get from all the on-line media that is put under my nose…the daily instagram shots, facebook fashion pages popping up in my news feed…the list goes on.
I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I can’t visit a Dr surgery without obsessively, flipping though magazines to get my daily fashion fix before my appointment is called. It used to be the same when I go grocery shopping. I used to casually stroll the isles as my other half was diligently working his way through the shopping list whilst I diligently worked my way though the fashion magazines. You see my problem! I couldn’t even wait 1 hour until our shopping expedition was over…no, I had to rifle through each magazine ‘AS’ we were shopping because I just couldn’t resist. Now…I sprint through the Woolworths isles in order to expedite our shopping mission and avoid the temptations of magazines.
But despite this bleakness…things are improving. I will always have temptations, but it’s just a matter of overcoming them…one way or another….
Recently there was a news report on ‘The Project’ @theprojecttv regarding slavery in the world and it directed consumers to a website, http://slaveryfootprint.org/, where you could actually view your own ‘slavery footprint’. It was an eye opener to see how my lifestyle and living inadvertently supports and fuels the slavery trade around the world. Living a relatively moderate life I believed…after all I don’t even own an ipad, laptop and the other horde of gadgets that my generation have acquired…my ‘slavery footprint’ would be minimal.
Of course, I had a sneaking suspicion that my biggest impact would in fact be my love for shopping and the purchasing of brands that may not necessarily take a conscious effort to source and manufacture their products, free from slavery.
I was right! To supportmy living and lifestyle, I had 60 slaves working for me. My biggest impact were the clothing purchases I had amassed over the years. It was an interesting little exercise for me at first however, as I started delving in deeper and researched the devastating affects of slave labour via consumer demand and also the companies that support it, I felt more than a little sick to my stomach to think I that something that brought me happiness and personal satisfaction was at the cost of another human beings happiness.
There are so many opinions out there that certain companies are in fact doing good by giving these communities/people jobs, even if it is well below standard living/employment conditions. Secondly, that these companies are only delivering goods and services, fuelled by a consumer demand.
After reading that opinion, it’s hard for me to not believe and feel the opinion of my own, that companies are just blatantly justifying their part in the slave labour through consumer needs and maintain their inability to make a change through a ‘this is the way it is’ mentality.
However, I too as a consumer, is taking part in justifying my spending habits and not taking action.
Now that I know my part, I am making a conscious effort to reverse my actions and reduce my slavery footprint. How? Well, being that clothing is my biggest contributor in having slaves work for me, the first step is to stop buying clothes that directly or indirectly, support slave labour.
This was a very big decision for me but an easy one. To be honest, most of the brands I buy are all manufactured within countries rife with slave labour. The next step, I have decided to start selling the clothing items from non slave free brands, either via eBay, gumtree or direct to friends. With all the funds I make from selling these clothes, I am going to donate to the slaveryfootrprint.org.
This is just a small step to freeing my conscious but most importantly freeing modern day slaves from slave labour. I am not wanting to point the finger at brands that may still use modern day slaves to manufacture their goods. However, I do hope, like myself, the awareness will cause these brands to take action and hopefully one day, I’ll buy those brands again when they are ‘slavery free’.
We can all do our part to make a difference. Take action today.
Keep an eye out on ebay for items I will be listing soon.
My name is Yolanda and I am a Shopaholic. Well I think that’s the way it goes?
So as my blog title states, I am a recovering shopaholic. I have come to admit that I have a major problem with shopping and clothes and have decided to take the first steps in getting help. To some people this may sound funny, somewhat like the hilarious comedy with Isla Fisher, “Confessions of a Shopaholic’. And although, I may have a laugh or two with my friends about my serious condition of ‘not being able to say no to a sale’, let me tell you, it’s not the hilarious comedy, with the happy ending as it may appear to be!
As much as I love fashion and shopping in general, I have come to realise that I do in fact have a very unhealthily relationship with these things. Just to paint this picture for you, I recently discovered that the local Courier who delivers all my parcels containing my purchased online items, in fact knows me on a first name basis and commented that I must have more shoes than Emelda Marcos.
So…I decided that I need to be serious about my recovery in this debilitating disease I like to call, ‘Shopaholism’, and attend some meetings. When I mentioned this to friends and family, they all chuckled uncontrollably like I said something funnier than Ricky Gervais, but yes, there are actual meetings for people like myself. People who can’t seem to keep their plastic in their wallets and their spending in check.
I read a few of the tips a.k.a. ‘steps to recovery’ and one of the tools to assist in limiting spending is to get a notebook and write down all your spendings to keep track of the ‘non-essential’ items. Well apart from the fact that I will need to do some serious debating with myself regarding whether or not that new pair of shoes was ‘essential’ is one issue but to highlight to you all just how crippled I am with ‘Shopaholism’, I actually nearly convinced myself that I needed a new notebook to write down all my spendings? And not just any notebook, a brown leather notebook from Fossil in a A5 size so it’s practical enough to carry around in one of my many handbags?
Of course I withheld, with great difficulty, and didn’t purchase the item. Wow, Compulsive Shopping – 0 and Yolanda – 1. I am nearly cured I think?? Anyway, my first meeting is tomorrow, so no doubt I will post an update about my first meeting on the way to full recovery from ‘Shopaholicism’.