Ilana Kohn Caroline pants (small)
James Perse brushed jersey turtleneck (several years old)
James Perse cashmere cardigan/coat (several years old) |
secondhand black cashmere cardigans at The Real Real
Golden Goose hi-star sneakers | secondhand Golden Goose at The Real Real
I am half-heartedly working on a year-end recap of what I bought and sold last year, but got really discouraged when I looked at my wardrobe audit spreadsheet and totalled up the number of items I added in 2018 (about 36). I sold a lot of things last year too, but I’m not sure exactly how many. Probably not 36 items. I’m not being too hard on myself, I lost weight early in the year as a result of my broken jaw, and ended the year pregnant, so….
I’m not trying to keep a minimal closet, or to a set number of items, but I do want to wear the things I have more often. As it stands, I have so many things I can’t possibly wear them as often as I’d like. On the other hand, is that a problem? I make a conscious effort to buy things made of natural fabrics, that are sturdy, practical, and will stand up to many years of wear, either by me or whoever I pass them on to. And I’ve become more comfortable holding on to things I love (that spark joy?) but that I don’t wear as often as I thought I would.
Lyn from Accidental Icon’s money diary – I love her, and also found her analysis at the end, looking beyond the things she spent money on to what spending that money MEANT to her: she is taking care of her health, walking a lot, visiting her mother, etc. She was also candid about shopping for her blog/business. Her blog is different than mine (obviously) – I post outfits, and she shoots editorials. She shops for those shoots with a look in mind, and those are business expenses. It made me think about tracking my spending for a week sometime. Might be interesting…
Plastic is part of online shopping (and life, really) – this is a long but worthwhile read. As usual Alden has written a thoroughly researched article that addresses the issue of plastic packaging no one really talks about or understands – the plastic that comes with online orders and even meal kit deliveries. Unfortunately plastic is nearly impossible to avoid altogether. I even saw a story on instagram about bulk items arriving to a bulk supermarket. How do you think they got there?? IN PLASTIC BAGS!!! Yes, it’s less plastic than if each serving or whatever was individually packaged, but still, there is no way to avoid plastic altogether for most food items, and even most clothing.
Side note: We can try to avoid as much plastic as possible IN our clothing though, which is why I was SO disappointed that Everlane’s new “cotton” cardigan is 27% nylon. I was all set to try one, but I saw that and said no thanks. It doesn’t need the nylon in my opinion, and also, as with anything we wash that includes synthetics it will release microplastics into the water ending up in baby turtles’ stomachs (unless you use a mesh bag to collect it). I was really disappointed by that amount of nylon and frustrated that they would make such an effort with their ReNew items and seemingly go backwards in this way.
INSTAGRAM ISN’T REAL LIFE – @renee.elizabethpeters has been posting on instagram about “the Truth most sustainable influencers won’t tell you” – which is that individual actions won’t change the world, and indeed, many of said actions aren’t available to a majority of the population. It is a great privilege to be able to buy organic fruits and vegetables, eat (mostly) vegan, and buy clothing from smaller designers (and then virtue signal to others on social media), but is that enough to “change the world”?
No, of course not. We need systemic, industry-wide changes, and global understanding. JUST TALKING ABOUT BUYING “ETHICAL” FASHION ON INSTAGRAM won’t change a thing. It’s an echo chamber.
So is the internet, incidentally – says the person who posts her mostly ethical & responsible outfits online. And here’s where I hold my own feet to the fire: I could do more than review and discover new, more responsible designers – we are not going to consume our way out of this. I can absolutely do a lot more in terms of reducing my own waste, using less plastic, etc., but I can also make a more concentrated effort to understand what sustainable living looks like all over the world, to others who are not as privileged as I am.
There is not one way to live sustainably. There are lots of ways to support and honor the people who make our clothes, and one of those ways might actually be continuing to buy clothing from H&M (think on that!) – a mega retailer making sustainability strides on a large scale. And yes, going vegan *may* be the “best” diet for people and planet, but the reality now is that people eat meat – shouldn’t we also be working hard to shift from factory farming to more local, sustainable and ethical farming, honoring the animals that feed most of the population?
We have to be careful not to get stuck in our ideas of what ethical/sustainable living looks like; it is different for everyone depending on where you live and your socioeconomic position. What we see on instagram of 10 piece expensive capsule wardrobes in clean, minimal cottages with white walls isn’t reality for any but the smallest percentage of a percentage of the population. Reality is messy and complicated.
But I also believe that with great privilege comes great responsibility; it is the privileged among us who consume the most and produce the most waste, so the burden is on us to consume less and produce less waste, is it not? If not us, who? We have the means and the resources to do so and no excuse not to try and make the biggest impact we can. So I will not stop trying to do better all the time, but I do NOT expect others who don’t have as much as I do to do the same.
As a business-owner, I do everything I can to reduce waste and encourage recycling. Although no solution is perfect, I try to better. I use 100% recycled/recyclable poly mailers to send nearly everything out for slowre, and I wrap items in old calendar pages, or packing materials I’ve received myself; I don’t use anything “new” for shipping. When I have to ship in boxes I reuse boxes I’ve received from online orders or consignors, and I wrap items in plastic bags I’m reusing as well.
BTW, this is mentioned briefly in Alden’s article about plastic in online orders, and I think I’ve addressed it at slowre, but items that are shipped in cardboard boxes NEED to be wrapped in plastic, or some other sort of other waterproof material; do you have any idea what boxes go through before they get to you?? It’s not happened to me often, but once or twice I’ve received a wet box but the contents inside were protected by a sealed plastic bag. Thank goodness.
Anyway, I echo Renee’s sentiment that those of us who have a voice and some influence shouldn’t be placing ALL of our attention only on posting ethical ootds, or photos of our zero-waste kits for eating out. We should actually be DOING the work, spending our time advocating for more systemic change and trying to understand what sustainable living looks like all over the world – supporting THAT, not our own (consumer-centric) ideas of what it SHOULD look like.
Nothing is so simple, and climate change, plastic waste, pollution, etc., are big issues that require big solutions. And as I mentioned above with H&M, we shouldn’t dismiss outright efforts by large corporations to make their industries more sustainable, fair, and ethical; large corporations have a HUGE impact, even when they do seemingly small things.
J Crew (& Madewell) announced a Fair Trade initiative for denim – they’ll be producing 30 styles of denim at the Saitex factory in Vietnam, which is the same factory Everlane uses, and Loop is working with companies like Tide, Haagen-Dazs, Coke & others to provide delivery and pickup service for certain products in reusable packaging – think about old fashioned milk delivery.
On social media, both of these efforts got a lot of flack for coming from large corporations, but honestly, I find those lines of argument tiring, and frankly way too idealistic. Of course, we should look at those efforts with a hefty dose of skepticism and analysis, but if we expect large scale change, who better to implement it than large companies, and yes, corporations with a lot of money? As much as we love Elizabeth Suzann, the brand isn’t appealing or accessible to enough people to affect the change we need to see, and quickly. (although smaller brands are definitely “disruptors” in the industry and are pushing the large brands to make positive changes).
All this said, I still believe that individuals can make a difference and we all need to do the best we can given our circumstances and levels of dedication. There is no excuse for those of us with privilege and the knowledge to do better not to do so.
Cleaning out the garage this weekend, finally getting around to organizing (Kondo-folding my clothes) my closet better, and reading. Lots and lots of reading hopefully 🙂
What are you doing this weekend? Oh yeah, the super bowl haha… watching that with my husband.
Have a great weekend!