James Perse dress (several years old)
Rag & Bone sweater (a couple years old)
Comme des Garcons Play X Converse sneakers (more than 10 years old)
TL;DR: buy too much stuff 😉 And I mean this as an answer to all the fluff pieces published this week about the little things we can “all do” to be more eco-friendly. Maybe we should focus more on the things we still do that are NOT very eco-friendly and try to make a dent in those?
(I’ve been working on writing this all week – I just don’t know what to say anymore. I am disheartened and frustrated with “influencer” marketing as it has become, and tired of so much virtue signaling, especially around earth day. I also have extreme emotional fluctuations lately and simply don’t have the attention span to write my thoughts coherently. I am so happy, but also confused about what I want to do now, and going forward. I want to write, and share my thoughts, but they’re increasingly difficult to put down on “paper” as it were. Anyway, I’m okay, thanks to all who are concerned, and Leo and I are leaving for our mini-vacation to Santa Fe today so I won’t write anything again until next week. I hope all of you are well, let me know what’s happening in the comments!!)
On Monday I was going to post links to some articles I found interesting for Earth Day, including a look at both Everlane’s and Adidas’ new “sustainable” sneakers, but as I scrolled through instagram, blogs, and the news, I became…I don’t know how to describe it…too disgusted, overwhelmed, and frustrated to write anything at all. I didn’t want to add to the noise, or feel like I was participating in Earth Day hype/greenwashing. I know it’s not all lip service, that some of the “influencers” (I really hate that term) are actually doing the work required to make an impact, but it also felt like virtue-signalling (as usual…) to the extreme, and all about “me:” look what I’m doing for the earth! yay me!!
We are all part of the “problem” because we live in a modern society, there’s no way around that. We are at the point-of-almost-no-return because of consumer culture – we have the privileges we have (some of us) because of capitalism; the ability to buy what we need. We also have antibiotics and medical devices made of out plastic because we live in a modern society, and I’m glad for that, those things save lives.
Affordable clothing made out of synthetics allowed people to clothe themselves for interviews, work, and/or play and led to a higher quality of life for many.
But of course, we consumers take everything to the extreme, and if we can have something faster and cheaper, why not? More of that please. More more more.
And THAT is the problem. We don’t need one quarter of the things we think we do to be comfortable, let alone survive; we can “survive” on much less. Yet we thrive on the idea that more is better, and we can afford it, so why not? Or we want it, and we can sort of afford it, and buying it will make us happy, either short term, or longer term, so go for it. No regrets, right? We can always donate or resell it later.
I am that person. I am part of the problem – I feel like I am adding too many new things to my wardrobe.
- I buy new things because I have credits I earn from writing this blog.
- I buy new things because I’m traveling and use shopping to alleviate some of my anxiety related to that.
- I buy new things because I’m having a baby at 46 and my body is foreign to me, as is this whole experience, and as I mentioned above, I deal with anxiety/uncertainty by propping up the facade, so that at least outside, it appears that I’m doing fine, thank you.
- I buy new things because I have made talking about clothes and getting dressed my job for the last fifteen years.
- I buy new things because I just really enjoy trying new things and talking about them.
- I buy new things because I can easily resell them.
- I buy secondhand things I probably don’t need because it’s easy, they’re already in my house 🙂
I keep thinking I’ve had enough; my never-ending cycle of consumption/purging has to end/slow down soon; I am getting overwhelmed. Even though I am also getting rid of things I don’t want anymore, endless buying/purging won’t lead to happiness, contentment, safety or longevity. Neither can I do so for my son; buying all of the new-mom/baby must-haves won’t give him any of that either.
That is the element I think is missing from any sustainability or earth-friendly discussion by most “ethical” influencers of late: that we must start buying less – both new and used, “ethical” designer and otherwise – and using/taking better care of what we already have. A closet full of Elizabeth Suzann, Tradlands, Everlane and Babaa will NOT save the planet, I’m sorry to say.
I think this is what upsets me most about Everlane’s new “Tread” line: they are launching a brand new product line that is supposed to be the “lowest impact” sneaker. Let that sink in for a second. Instead of making their existing factories or product lines zero waste, instead of focusing on using more environmentally friendly fabrics in their tees and top-selling items, instead of making LESS STUFF, they are making MORE stuff no one needs under the guise of having LESS impact. It doesn’t work that way.
Yeah, Everlane is my new favorite company to love to hate, and other companies start new, innovative product lines (Adidas), but they are not the darlings of social media and “ethical” fashion bloggers/influencers that Everlane is. There is a false assumption that Everlane is “ethical” (they are, generally, better than some companies, but even big corporations are being more transparent, AND using more earth-friendly fabrics, so Everlane’s “transparency” angle is losing water) so STILL they are given a pass. Even for chrome-tanned leather. And carbon offsets, which are cop-outs, in my humble opinion.
Enough already with the “buy this, be more sustainable” message. Buy as little as possible.
Ultimately as I’ve said before, I am just a person moving through this modern world, buying things, trying to be better, and have a smaller footprint, but failing a lot of the time.
I fail when I
- Buy new leather shoes, and I don’t know enough about the sourcing of the leather
- Take long-ass showers
- Buy new clothes
- Buy food with excess packaging – buy food in packaging PERIOD
- Drive everywhere
- Bleach/Dye my hair
- Run the dishwasher every day
I also do little things every day to try and offset those failures, but probably not enough.
I still believe the answer is to do the best we can, no matter what that is; I do think that everything counts. But ultimately, as far as personal efforts go, buying less of everything – creating less waste overall – having less stuff, will have the greatest impact long term, especially as it sinks into the next generation.
Let that start with me.