On Saturday, I was so lucky to be able to meet up with Tiff from Velé. Over coffee, we shared our stories for how we got interested in ethical fashion and sustainable living, and our hopes and dreams for the future. It’s truly amazing the opportunities social media can bring. I have truly enjoyed connecting with others who share my aesthetics, my interests, and my goals.
One thing I’ve been struggling with in my journey towards ethical and sustainability is my impatience, and then the guilt that accompanies the actions brought upon by my impatience. I feel guilty for shopping at non-ethical or non-sustainable stores, even just window shopping felt taboo. I felt weird when I received a gift card to Zara from Brandon’s mom for Chinese New Year–not knowing how to spend it or whether it’s still unethical to shop there even with a gift card. I felt guilty considering redeeming free underwear with a coupon I received in the mail from Victoria Secret. I feel guilty for impulse buying things from ethical brands, and using the justification that it was from an ethical brand to click “place order.” I feel guilty for feeling frustrated that shopping ethically or sustainably is not convenient and is a luxury.
But after meeting up with Tiff and after reading this post from Simply Liv & Co, I began to sing myself a different tune.
Similar to dieting or doing a 30-day bootcamp challenge, I feel like shopping ethically or sustainably could turn into a fad because it’s the “trendy” thing to do nowadays. But if you want to truly be healthy or be sustainable, then you’re going to have to change your lifestyle. And changing your lifestyle takes time, a lot of time. I’m in the midst of trying to do both actually, and every time I “cheat” with a burger or with fries, or by shopping (even just window-shopping) at places like Madewell or Nordstrom, I would feel incredibly guilty. Brandon would then remind me that I’m trying to undo 28 years of habits and that it’s crazy to think they could be undone within a few weeks, or a few months, or even a year. What matters is that I be gentle and patient with myself, and that I keep going, because this is going to be a long and slow process.
So utilizing Liv’s post, How to Be Patient With Yourself on Your Sustainable Life Journey (which was a guest post by Emily from Conservation Folks)…
Reframing Your Focus: It’s been so easy to get overwhelmed by the morality and ethics that comes along with fashion. Not only is there the component involving unfair wages or awful working conditions for the people who make the clothes, but there’s also the environmental impact of making clothing itself on our planet. To be honest, when I stop to think about all this, it makes me want to stop shopping altogether. Eventually, I do want to only buy from brands that are ethical and use sustainable fabrics.
However, I think right now I want to focus on my shopping habits to be intentional and less impulsive. This whole journey began because I realized my shopping habits were not sustainable and I was so wasteful with my money. I’ve also always dreamed of having a curated and minimal closet. I want to focus on my initial goal of having a capsule wardrobe, because at the end of the day, I wear what I love. What would be the point of having a closet full of ethical or sustainable clothes, but not wear any of them? Once I achieve fixing my shopping habits, I can focus on shopping only from ethical and sustainable brands (only when I need to of course).
Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself: I will try to be gentle myself when I make a mistake. I need to remind myself that eventually I will leave a smaller carbon footprint on our Earth, but I need to go easy and slow because I don’t want to give up and never get to my ultimate goal. I am not a saint, but at least I’m trying the best I can!
Be Comfortable With Saying No (Whenever Possible): This has been a “resolution” for my for years. I’m definitely a yes-man, especially when it comes to shopping. Yes, I deserve this. Yes, I need that. Yes, I will wear that all the time. But the one big thing I took away from my shop-free January was that I can say no and should say no more often to shopping.
Be Grateful For What You Have: This was also the second biggest thing I learned from my shop-free month–I do have so many great clothes that I’ve accumulated over the years. The capsule wardrobe has been so great for me because with each changing season where I need to put clothes away and bring clothes back out from past seasons, I feel like I’m getting a whole new wardrobe without having to buy anything new. I also miss the clothes that were stored away and have a new appreciation for them.
Reward Yourself Along the Way: I think so far at this point in my journey, having a more curated closet has been a reward in itself. However, I do think that shopping purposefully, ethically, and sustainably is also a reward in itself because ethical brands do tend to be more expensive; and so I feel like I do have to be intentional with what I buy from ethical brands because it is a luxury.
So what does this mean moving forward?
I’m still going to spend the Zara gift card I received, but I’m going to spend it on something I need, something I really love, and something that will fit in nicely with the rest of my closet. I’m still going to redeem that pair of free underwear from Victoria Secret, because self-care and free is free. I will definitely try my best to continue to be mindful with what I consume.
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