Hello my lovelies,
I recently watched a documentary called The True Cost – it’s on Netflix, please go watch it – and ever since I have felt that post-harrowing-documentary-compulsion to get up off my privileged butt and try to help the situation, instead of contributing to it. Like most of us I was already aware of the problem, but never really took the time to assess how I can change it. Right now, I am trying.
The situation is this. Fast fashion has become a poisonous force in this world. From the horrific treatment and low pay for garment workers in developing countries, to the pollution of their rivers and soil; the increased price of genetically modified cotton leading to suicides amongst Indian farmers who cannot afford the new costs; the severe health problems that result from increased use of pesticides. To pin this injustice into one singular, tragic event, the documentary focused on the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in April 2013. Garment workers were ordered to show up to work after cracks were discovered in the foundations of the eight-story building. That morning, the entire building collapsed on itself, and 1,129 people were killed, with another 2500 injured escaping. I’m sure you’ve all heard of these events, and the truths that emerged thereafter. That the Plaza was built on a filled-in pond which compromised its structural integrity, especially with the vibrations from heavy machinery and generators within. An additional three floors were built for commercial use beyond the original permit. Poor construction materials were used. All of which surround the lives of underpaid garment workers. Where is the social responsibility here? My work uniform may well have been manufactured by one of these people, who deserve a liveable minimum wage and decent working conditions as much as any of us do.
I won’t delve too far into this on this particular post, as I could go on and on with little progress. This post is a celebration of one of the (tiny) steps we can all take to support our world, and its inhabitants: Charity shops. Now, no fashion producer can be considered entirely ethical, but here is an option readily available to us all, in which we can offer the triple support of contributing to the funding of that particular charity, recycling items of clothing that may have ended up in landfill, AND you are actively saying to the fast fashion industry that you are a strong independent person who don’t need no poisonous garment regime in her life. Well, to a certain extent.
In posting this I am certainly not saying that I am innocent of supporting the fast fashion trade – the other day for instance, I bought a couple of bras from Primark, neither of which offered sufficient support in the end but that’s another story. What I am trying to say is that I am becoming more conscious of how I consume things (consume is such an odd word, there are definite om-nom-nom connotations). Instead of selecting the cheapest item possible, I am starting to think about the work that has gone into this particular item, and what I would be supporting if I purchased it. On a scale of flagrant nonchalance towards fairly traded products and boycotting sales altogether, I want to work towards the more ethical side. I’ve made a list of Fair Trade companies which I keep in my bullet journal, and although I consider a lot of their items quite expensive (well, I would compared to Primark’s prices), they do often have clearances, and their basics are very good investments to supplement the clothes you already own. I’m thinking about starting a series called “How Cruel is My Wardrobe” (inspired by a video by Justkissmyfrog) – in which I pick my outfit for the day as normal, and then look at the background of the companies behind it, and possible alternative sources. I don’t know, I’m still toying with this idea. But for now, before I head out, here is a fashion haul from a mixture of charity shops that I have gathered over recent months.
LET’S JUST ADDRESS MY BLATANT LACK OF IRONING WITH A SWIFT “OOPS!”
- Turquoise Sun Dress (£5.50) – Forgive me, I cannot remember the name of the charity shop, but it was in Knaresborough – I think it was Cancer Research? The dress itself is lovely, 1950s-style with lovely cut-out detail at the neck. It is a little roomy around the waist but I’ve just added a belt and hey presto, it fits.
- Gold Holographic Doc Martens (£25.00) – My sister bought these for me after she spotted them in a charity shop in Leeds. Brand spanking new, and absolutely gorgeous. They go with nothing I have, and yet in an odd way they seem to go with everything!
- Navy Polkadot Dress (£3.00) – I found this in Shelter (a homelessness charity). It is a size 16 which is two sizes above my usual, but again, once I’ve belted it up it fits a treat. It’s also some insurance in case I gain some weight!
- Yellow Floral Camisole (£1.50) – Again, this was from Shelter. Originally from New Look, it’s such a glorious summery top and I love it.
- Red Checked Camisole (50p) – This was from a delightful rack full of 50p tops in Marie Curie. I’ve been wearing it with a black maxi skirt and sandals and feeling very floaty indeed.
So there we have it! My first charity shop haul. It did involve a little snooping around, but it’s worth it to support such a good cause. I realise how preachy this sounds, but if I can encourage you even on the smallest level to reconsider some of your clothing purchases and opt for a more ethical source, then I consider this a solid effort. It does require patience but you can find gorgeous clothing in charity shops, and the prices are always undeniably awesome. And when you wear it, you can think that this item has had a previous life, but so what? Not everything I wear has to be made just for me. The second you take it home and wash it, and it bears the scent of your fabric conditioner, it’s yours. The option is there for you to try.