Combating Conscious Shopping Excuses

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Hey Planet! I love you but nah.

When it comes to being ‘eco’ we fashionistas (along with everyone else) are really good at making excuses why we can’t make more earth friendly changes. It really doesn’t matter how far along you are with your environmentally minded evolution, there are always ways to improve. It’s just the barrier or comfort zone pushing that can make the transition scary. Being the stubborn species that we are, these eco evolutions require us moving past a mental hurdle and shift our ideals or habits. Let’s look at some common hurdles (which is a nice way of saying excuses) and how to move past them.

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It’s too hard!

Yep, we have all uttered this at some point. Whether it’s trying to work out algebra in grade ten or attempting to find a bra with some ethical or environmental kudos, the ‘too hard’ basket is a favourite for all of us. Truthfully shopping consciously for fashion (or anything else) can be frustrating because most places aren’t equipt for you to just walk into a store and buy whatever you like.

This being said,’too hard’ can be an easy scapegoat or a get-out-of-eco-free pass.

Everything seemed too hard at one point. Like finding your feet for the first time, learning to walk, or getting your head around the state of politics in the USA. Some things need some work but they aren’t necessarily impossible (except Trumps hair… it defies logic and gravity). When it comes to eco fashion there are resources bound merrily over this hurdle with antelope finesse. These following resources will help you caption #nailedit for your eco-shopping ventures.

When you have exhausted your search and decide that finding the right item is pretty much impossible then congratulate yourself on your effort. A fruitless search is not going to solve your closet mystery, but the fact that you put the effort into looking in the first place is a indication that your evolution continues. Let the ‘failure’ fuel your desire to do good with another purchase (redemption, spite- whatever you want to call it, emotions like this can be powerful motivators for change)

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I can’t be bothered.

We all get busy. The reality of the hyper-connected world that we live in is that most folks are busy all of the time. Even when we aren’t busy our devices give us the opportunity to be busy or occupied through social networking, live streaming and other fingertip activities. The ‘I can’t be bothered‘ excuse to be Eco-lazy likely comes from a place of exhaustion.

Whether it’s compassion fatigue (it really does get a little exhausting hearing how we are all doomed all the time), depression, or life’s distractions (work, kids, fun, social lives etc) being over it is a real Eco-buzz-kill.

A good incentive to keep up your green habits is to work out your green-motivation. This is whatever drew you to care about the planet, people or animals. It needs to be present every day in your life.

The more disconnected you feel from these motivators the less you will care about sticking to your Eco habits. If, for example, you are passionate about zero waste because you hate seeing landfill pile up and don’t want your children to be living in your filth. Then keep motivators around that remind you why you are aiming for zero waste living. A visual reminder could be a photo of your children in your wallet in a pristine national park. If you are more motivated by audio you could listen to an album that was the soundtrack that brings back memories your hiking trip in the mountains. If you are tactile you could keep an office plant. Every time you feel like buying a pre-packed packet of biscuits for afternoon tea you could touch your office plant as a reminder to walk two blocks to go buy a slice on a plate from the nearby cafe instead.

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I can’t afford it.

Financially, emotionally or time wise, limitations can be real barriers to evolving your ur Eco habits. However, automatically thinking that you cannot afford the time or money required to hunt down a pair organic cotton ethically made jeans is an easy way to justify lazily buying from a fast-fashion chain store. While barriers like financial constraints or a time shortage might severely limit the capacity to shop or act consciously, there are ways to get around this being a permanent excuse ignore Eco or social impacts.

Economic theory actually gives a really good model for justifying cost.

Opportunity cost looks at all the other options we forego when we make a desicion. The decision to purchase a fast fashion sweater from the supermarket that was made under unethical conditions and excreted dyestuffs into a waterway during its manufacturing processes has a few opportunity costs. The first being that you have forgone the opportunity to support and ethical retailer as you have filled the void in your closet with the unethical sweater instead.

You valued your own time over the environment and the people who make your sweater.

If your decision to shop this sweater was due to a lack of an affordable alternative the opportunity cost was that you had to forgo buying a Eco/ethical alternative because your budget couldn’t match it. Which might be a a sustainable choice for you in the long run if you happen to wear that same cotton sweater for two decades, while your friend buys 200 non biodegradable sweaters (filling up landfill and shedding micro plastics in the wash) in the same time period. It may also have been a missed opportunity for you to have spent a little more time to find a secondhand sweater that fits your budget and keeps waste out of landfill for a little longer through your usage.

Purchasing a sweater (new or secondhand) also means that you are foregoing the opportunity to make yourself a sweater, or get really thoughtful and understand why you want a sweater in the first place. Both learning to create something, or learning to life without something Are useful tools for self development and buying the fast fashion item costs you the chance to explore both those areas.

As you can see, there are many ways to approach thinking sustainable about your closet (and the rest of your life). So the ‘I can’t afford it’ excuse should be looked at with an open mind and addressed from at least three points of view:

  • Time : can I invest time into looking for a conscious shopping solution?
  • Money: can I afford to pay for the most conscious shopping solution or is money a barrier that can be overcome with some time and energy?
  • Emotions/energy: can I invest some of my own emotions or energy into coming up with a conscious shopping solution/alternative (like a DIY).

What is your favourite way to procrastinate, complain about, or avoid your Eco commitments to yourself? Perhaps you have another phrase you like to use? Please share with us, there is no judgements because we are all guilty of this from time to time!

Author: Katie

Katie Roberts is a self confessed 'write-a-holic' Environmental Scientist with a passion for Sustainable Fashion.

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