Just a couple of months ago, I wrote about my guilt around considering purchases that aren’t ethically made. The guilt hasn’t abated, and I started to wonder why I wasn’t able to just make the statement that I would only buy ethically made clothing.
I realized there are a few reasons I’m hesitant to take the plunge.
- There’s a bit of peer pressure. I’m really resistant to doing what “everyone else” is doing. It kept me from doing a capsule wardrobe for a long time.
- Taking a pledge like this feels a bit elitist, to be honest. It’s great for me to be able to say I won’t buy fast fashion, but what about people who don’t have my resources or privilege? There are lots of similarities between sustainable fashion and sustainable food, and this is a common criticism of both movements. If you are struggling to put clothes, any clothes, on your family’s back, you’re not too concerned about where they came from.
- Will I alienate people who read my blog or want to work with me? Will they think that by my doing this, I’m judging them if they don’t? (I’m not!)
- I’d have to only shop from places that are considered ethical or sustainable. How do I determine this? What is the official definition of ethically made? If they have fair labor but pollute the water, does that pass? If I see a retailer on blogger’s list of ethical retailers but don’t see any info on their site about it, who do I trust?
I was talking to mr. mindful closet about all of this, and I had an epiphany. It’s not really about any of these factors. It’s about my personality type. You may know I’m a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin. One of her personality type distinctions that’s been really helpful for me has been the moderator/abstainer distinction. If you’re an abstainer, you find it easier to rule out entire categories of things so that you’re never tempted by them. Moderators, on the other hand, “find that occasional indulgence heightens their pleasure, and get panicky at the thought of ‘never’ getting or doing something”.
Let’s take ice cream as an example. My husband is an abstainer, and he cannot have ice cream in the house without eating most of it in one sitting. I’m a moderator, and I like to keep sweets around so that I can have one bite after dinner. I realized that I’m a moderator when it comes to ethical fashion as well. For some people, it may work really well to draw that hard line and say, I will never buy another piece of unethically made clothing again, but not for me.
I’m not perfect. I do my best. I try to eat healthily, but I do occasionally eat McDonald’s (gasp). I use cloth napkins, but also use disposable wipes to clean my counters. We use cloth diapers about half the time, and disposable the rest. I care deeply about stopping the cycle of consumerism and I think carefully about all of my purchases. I try to buy clothing as ethically as I can, but every once in awhile, I buy something from Old Navy (case in point, the culottes pictured above, worn with my ethically made Elizabeth Suzann Petra top).
If you want to hear more about how you can get started on making ethical fashion purchases, join me on Facebook live this Thursday, June 15 at 5:30pm cst. It’ll be the beginner’s guide to sustainable fashion! Also, I’ve pulled together my favorite ethically made wardrobe basics and Ellie created and illustrated a cool interactive PDF. Get it below!