Over the past few months I have become increasingly aware of my lifestyle and its environmental and ethical footprint. I was previously aware of environmental issues, but had never fully connected them to my every day life. Since learning more by reading books, articles, and blogs, and by watching documentaries, I have been making much more responsible shopping choices. I’ve considerably reduced how often I shop, changing what I buy and where I buy it from. I have recycled, resold or donated many unwanted items and will continue to do so throughout 2016.
If I can offer one piece of advice to those of you that want to starting consuming more consciously this year, it is to take the time to read into environmental degradation and how it threatens the future of humankind and many other species. Read about the conditions of workers in developing countries. There may be few options for people in countries like Bangladesh, but why are multinational billion-dollar companies not supporting their staff with safe working conditions and a sufficient wage when they can easy afford it? Why are we allowing the exploitation of these people and of our world? Take the time to fully understand and engage with the issues and you won’t need convincing on why you should change your lifestyle.
I would recommend:
- Cowspiracy (Documentary)
- The True Cost (Documentary)
- To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? By Lucy Siegle (Book)
- A Practical Guided to Sustainable Fashion. By Alison Gwilt (Book)
- The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years. By Yv
When it comes to making changes, follow these three key steps:
1. Have a clear out
Rummage through your cupboards and see what you really need. Any items you haven’t used in several months, and you do not believe you will use again, get rid of. And buy this I mean resell, recycle or donate. Do NOT bin them for landfill (read why not here).
Give unwanted clothing and accessories to friends or family, sell them through sites like eBay and Depop, donate them to charity, or deposit them at a recycling centre. Read my post on clear outs for more details on what to do with unwanted items.
A minimalist, tidy wardrobe can also help reduce the ‘what am I going to wear?!’ morning stress by ensuring you only have items you like and that fit well.
2. Shop responsibly
Only buy something when you really need it. Repair items until they cannot be used again, and then replace them. Do some research. Find out what brands are doing to reduce their environmental footprint and to ensure they’re treating their workers fairly. I hope my blog will help you find companies leading the way for sustainable and ethical practices.
3. Share your knowledge
Finally, it is important to share your new found, hopefully long-standing, interest in conscious consumption. This does not mean preaching about environmental and ethical issues to every person you meet. But by telling your closest friends and family members, you may influence their shopping habits too. You could also share photos and use hashtags on social media.
We need to increase the demand for high quality, responsibly-made products and services in order to generate change. Companies listen to their customers as without them they would not make a profit. We need to demand they operate in an environmentally responsible and ethical manner.