Mindset + Philosophy
I’ve been home from the Philippines for nearly two weeks now. Within that timeframe, my framework for this blog post has shifted at least dozen different times. I’ve started multiple posts with contrasting viewpoints, I’ve lost sleep (ok, that part was mainly jet lag) while typing out rants on my iPhone notes, and I’ve tried to process the best way to articulate my experience not only to you, but also to myself.
Yesterday, I had the immense privilege of speaking on a panel at Portland's Sustainable Fashion Forum alongside four other amazing bloggers. As we sat on the stage, there was something I wanted to say to the audience of sustainability/ethics minded individuals, but didn't. So I'm gonna say it now…
Have you thought about the relationship you have with your clothes?
It affects you more than you may realize. Whether you consider yourself someone who is "into fashion" or not, you have a relationship with your clothes. You put them on every single day (at least I hope you do!), and they speak on your behalf to those around you before you even open your mouth.
It’s 6am. My steaming cup of green tea is warming my hands after the quarter mile walk from my husband's childhood home to Grandma’s house. The cup is small, porcelain white with a hand painted peach on the side. It’s an old cup, but you won’t find a stain from use or time. Grandma puts the toast in the toaster, apologizing for not having something home made for us. We tell her toast is just fine, not to worry.
When I look back at the evolution of my personal style over the past few years, there is no denying that this work has shaped what I wear. For the most part, I think this has been a good thing.
But if I'm being totally honest, blogging has also been detrimental to certain aspects of my closet.
Here's an honest look at the positives and negatives of this style journey...
I didn’t used to think much about the brands I was wearing.
I didn’t used to having an emotional connection to the clothes in my closet beyond vanity or insecurity.
I certainly didn’t have my worldview shaped or educated by the fashion companies that I chose to represent.
Shopping consciously has changed that. Beyond changing where I shop, it has changed me.
The weather starts to turn and I pull out my favorite pair of jeans. Slipping my feet through the legs, I begin to pull them up and suddenly feel that awful resistance. I fight for a full minute to coerce the jeans over my thighs and booty only to face another brutal battle when it comes to the zipper.
I feel betrayed by the jeans, but that quickly turns into feeling betrayed by my own body.
They used to fit.
My body used to be acceptable to these jeans.
When I stepped into this field, I was solely focused on the social justice aspect of fashion. I was (and am) determined to empower consumers to redirect their purchases in order to transform the industry. As I've dialogued with readers and clients, I've become keenly aware that there are aspects of "healthy fashion" that go much deeper than purchasing from ethical brands.
Fast fashion is a massive problem in our world. But where did it come from? Whose fault is it that fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world (second only to the oil industry) and a system that oppresses the majority of people working within it?
Who's to blame?
Most of us have enough clothes. Most of us have more than enough clothes. Many of us actually have too many clothes for our closets.
Yet we still flock to stores weekend after weekend to purchase new items for ourselves.
So why do we keep shopping?
Everyone is different, but these are some common reasons I've found myself and others doing unnecessary shopping... and some healthy alternatives to put into practice as we shift our habits.
Most of the content that I share revolves around (ethical) fashion. Nothing shocking there.
I want to pause for a minute and address something that's been on my mind a lot lately:
Being passionate about sourcing my clothing from ethical brands is not my sole mission in life.
The beast of "fast fashion" has been created over decades and is fed by millions of consumers everyday. Does one person's decision to stop contributing to that system actually make a difference? Why should you suffer the inconvenience of higher prices if there are still sweatshops pumping out merchandise everyday?
There can be a lot of confusion around the idea of shopping ethically. Someone recently asked me if I only championed brands who are ethically producing clothes in developing countries, or if I also support companies that sustainably produce clothes in the USA. It's a great question, and prompted me to write this guide to empower you to shop based on your values...
We're entering a season of giving... which concurrently entails a season of receiving.
How do you navigate the holiday season as a conscious consumer?
What do you do when you receive gifts that don't align with your values?
I've talked quite a bit about incorporating simplicity into your wardrobe in order to afford the cost of ethical shopping. Fortunately, minimalism is super trendy right now.
It excites me to have something that encourages simplicity be trendy, but sometimes trendiness complicates things.
If you were at the mall last weekend you would have seen me, shopping bags in hand, sitting in the H&M fitting room. There's nothing particularly alarming about that image unless you know my stance on ethical fashion. If you do know my convictions, you would have understandably been very confused.
The title of this post isn't clickbait.
I'm not going tell you something blindly optimistic like, "The worst part of ethical shopping is finding somewhere to display the trophies the world will bestow upon you for doing the right thing."
The phrase "conscious consumer" gets tossed around quite a bit these days. I find myself using the term frequently, but recently I've been digging deeper into what it truly means.
Today someone asked me if shopping secondhand is "ethical" since it usually means buying brands that aren't necessarily made ethically.
This isn't the first time I've gotten that question, so I figured it warranted a blog post.
The short answer is...
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...
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
Originally a command given by Jesus to his followers, this simple phrase has become a foundational life mantra for people of all beliefs, religions and demographics... So who is our neighbor?