why we can't afford to shop ethically
It's been a week since publishing this website and I've already had several people approach me who want to shop ethically but legitimately don't know how to fit it into their budget.
Believe me, I get it.
I can't afford to shop ethically either. But I do...
I used to think that shopping ethically was only for the wealthy. In fact, if I'm being totally honest, I thought people who solely shopped fair-trade were a little pretentious.
Then one day the light bulb went off: I couldn't shop ethically if I continued to shop as frequently as I was used to, but I could afford to shop ethically if I just shopped less.
Unless you have a large amount of room in your budget for clothing, learning to simplify is really the only way to shop ethically.
Having less in your wardrobe may feel like a hard step to take, but it wasn't that long ago that a smaller wardrobe was normal for everyone.
I remember my dad talking about growing up in middle-class America. He told me that my grandpa (a successful banker) usually had just two pairs of shoes: a "nice pair" and a "yard-work" pair. When the nice shoes wore out, they became the yard-work shoes.
I don't think my grandpa was trying to make a statement with his shoe-buying habits. The fact is that clothes used to cost more, and people bought less...
In 1960 the average household spent at least 10% of its annual income on clothes and shoes. The average person purchased less than 25 garments each year. Now, the average household spends under 3.5% of its annual income on apparel, and the average person purchases over 65 garments each year.
Wait, did you catch that?
We are spending an average of three times LESS on clothing and purchasing almost three time MORE than we used to.
We've become accustomed to excess in our closets. Not just fashionistas, all of us.
Nowadays, my grandpa would be considered a radical minimalist for his lifestyle. He was just living within his means. Since everything at that point was made in the USA, he was "shopping ethically" without even realizing it.
So, why is it so hard for us to shop ethically? Because we have a choice.
It takes time, effort and self-control to save up and allocate enough of our budget to purchase responsibly. That's what this website is here for, to help with that endeavor.
The simplicity that used to be commonplace is now unusual since we have sales and cheap clothing everywhere we turn. But, I believe we can go backwards in our purchasing habits. I believe we can be content with less. Buy fewer, but better things. Shop secondhand. I think we can afford it.
So yeah, we can't afford to shop ethically if we continue to purchase three times more than we used to.
We can patch holes instead of replacing pants at the first tear.
We can scrub out stains instead of throwing out the sundress we "ruined."
We can take care of what we have and replace it responsibly when we have to.
I'll be blogging more practical posts about how I strategically simplified my wardrobe, so stay tuned!