Ethical 366: The End of an Ethical Year

It has been a big year – not just because of the extra leap year day!

Since I started my quest to clean up my clothing act in February 2016, life has brought me a whole basket of goodies – dealing with loss, love and the world has proven to be more time consuming than the time I had to give. Writing was one of the things that had to fall by the wayside, but my drive to improve the ethics of my shopping did not.

In exploring the world of clothes manufacture and the murky and complex supply chain of many mass produced fabrics, I came to see that almost all brands struggle to be able to even definitively state that new clothes had not been made in a way that was harmful to the environment or made with child or slave labour. It was obvious to me that, with the new knowledge I had gained, fast fashion would no longer work for me and I needed to be more conscientious in my fashion choices.

Sticking to my budget of £26 each month, in line with the national average spend on clothing, I’ve found charity shops to be the best way of keeping in style within a budget. Charity shops have proven an absolute cornucopia of goodies to support a better way of dealing with fashion on my own terms – re-using fast fashion and giving something back to the world.

I’ve found that less money and more conscious shopping can mean better quality, greater consideration of wardrobe and braver attitudes to a “dry clean only label”. If you go to most charity shops you’ll find a lot of label items, usually having landed there because their owners don’t want to face taking the item to a dry-cleaners but cannot bear to bin it. This has been to my benefit and I’ve found Ralph Lauren, DKNYC and L.K. Bennett and many other brands I’d never be able to afford new and in a variety of luxurious fabrics. A word to the wise – wool must be treated with respect – silk and other fabrics you can be a bit cavalier with but not wool!

I’ve learned that you should think carefully in buying any piece as to what you will use it for and whether or not certain low quality fabrics are worth it even when your outlay is just a few pounds – note to the discerning shopper – if it is made of silky polyester it is probably not going to make it through more than a handful of day-to-day wears without a tear or two.
Even though the year of the Ethical 366 is over I have no plans to abandon a more considered and ethical approach to shopping. I’m not sure for a start I could return to the overwhelming High Street, with its lack of diversity and overwhelming ranges of clothes of questionable provenance (at best). The whole project has left me with a need to make more change in my own and my family’s life and to seek out a way that limits the impact on others and the world around me.

So, with that in mind, I’ll still be writing about my charity shop and ethical clothing goodies, and will also explore ethical cosmetics, cleaning products, ways of working, community projects and, frankly, any fantastic things which help me to embrace my approach to living a more sustainable and conscientious life – look out for the upcoming Life, With Intent series starting soon!

• Have you followed the progress of the #Ethical366 project? Has it inspired you to change in any way? Would you change the way you shop? Please let me know….

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