Living Consciously

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Today I'm going to talk about something that's been on my mind the last few months and something I'm particualrly inspired by. Ethical living, ethical consumption and primarily ethical fashion.

In a time so advanced and educated as the twenty first century it's mind boggling how much inequity, injustice and mistreatment that is excepted, ignored and allowed to continue in society.

Unfortunately we live in a society that loves things, that loves shopping, that loves newness and most importantly that loves low prices. We walk a shop pick up a product and make a judgement on its quality and worth based on price. With no consideration for the human investment, ethics or circumstances in which this product has came to be.

Price is king in the common shopper's mind. We, and I say 'we' because I'm guilty of this too, have become accustomed to paying bargain bag prices without thinking of the individuals behind the scenes in dangerous, crippling circumstances who are paying the consequences.

And thing thing that gets me is that many of us, in fact the majority of us, are completely unaware of the consequences of our shopping habits. You walk into a popular high street clothing store and pick up one of the millions of 'new season' cotton-polyester blend 'must have', 'perfect addition to you Fall closet' festive jumpers on sale for the bargain price of €20. You think 'Oh wow, what a great deal! I already bought last season's must have jumper but sure it's only €20 I might as well.' But what you aren't aware of is the crippling conditions that person (often a young women) who made that jumper is working under. Or the brand that sells you the 'perfect', 'bum friendly' jeans may be contributing to a flowing denim blue dyed river, its ecosystem completely destroyed.

A while ago I read a book called 'To Die For' by journalist Lucy Siegle about the inhuman, unethical nature of the fashion industry. It was eye opening and sparked an interest. I was more aware of the consequences of my shopping and was no longer fooled by  I'd recommend anyone who considers themselves a 'shopaholic' to give it a read.

I recently watched 'The True Cost', a brilliant documentary on Netflix directed by Andrew Morgan featuring interviews with Executive Producers Lucy Siegle herself and Livia Firth Creative Director of Eco-Age and founder of People Tree, Safia Minney. It touched on the same topics as 'To Die For' and followed the lives of garment workers. 

These pieces of work have inspired me to begin doing a bit of research on a few clothing companies and organisations who have ethics and true value at the heart of their operations. I'm far from educated on these topics and want to learn more and hopefully make a difference. I want to be part of the movement that challenges the current high street business model and raises awareness so that the general public sees the error of their ways.

This way of producing and consuming 'things' has to stop. We have to collectively close the cycle. We have to work harder to free the makers of our clothes, of our things, the producers of our food from the price cutting trap. I want to make a difference by living consciously. 

A few other sources I've been using are: Re-dress, Eco-Age, Clean Clothes Campaign  and Ethical Fashion Forum

And three clothing brands I've found: People Tree, Braintree and Reformation.