Sustainable consumption is all about considering the implications of every purchase and trying to make the best possible decision for you, at the time, within your means.
The process of decision making for my big and exciting post Wardrobe Workout ‘leggings upgrade’ resulted in the following shopping analysis based on my personal purchasing values. The first step of the purchasing process was working through the ‘Shopping Ethically‘ infographic shown above.
Do I Really Need It?
After spending the year ‘living’ my closet I had a fair idea that new leggings were on the cards. Months of my poor partner enduring my complaints about my leggings being worn out, in addition to identifying (through a lifestyle analysis) that there is a huge gap in my closet, I felt I could safely say there was a ‘need’, not a want, for replacement leggings.
Does it Need to Be New?
There was absolutely no need for the leggings to be new. However, it is VERY difficult to find secondhand gym wear in thrift stores where I live. There are usually pieces in larger sizes as many start out their exercise journey as a curvier woman and as they drop weight donate their now-too-large items. As an Australian size 8 you have to be extremely fortunate to come across a small pair of leggings in good condition, let alone finding something that fits properly and is the right fabric. Most avid exercisers I know will just demote leggings from exercise worthy to house cleaning or lounging attire once they start to wear out. Ebay is a possibility but the brand and style of legging I usually buy are nearly as expensive to buy in good condition second hand , or ‘new with tags’ as they are to buy brand new in store. This money, for me, seemed better spent supporting an ethically made brand, than in the pocket of an ebay seller.
Can I Buy it Ethically?
Yes! There are many ethically made sportswear brands but it was a matter of finding the ones that were exactly right for me. Which is where my set of purchasing values came into play.
This involved a thoughtful contemplation of the following factors;
Items to purchase should be:
- Fit for purpose: There is no sense in buying something for its ethical or eco credibility if it doesn’t serve the original purpose. For me the underpinning message of shopping sustainable is getting the right item, in a quality fabric and construction, that you will love forever. Despite the fact there are lots of online shopping options for ethical or eco leggings I opted for a company in my local area as I could try the product before I buy, saving on transport costs and carbon emissions. This way I was able to bend, squat and flex in them before buying ensuring they were the perfect fit and fabric. Fit for purpose! The additional benefits of buying locally is supporting a local business, even though the leggings are made ethically in Brazil it was nice to see profits go to a small business owner who is trying to do the right thing in a difficult economy. Buying local is something I am extremely passionate about as far as produce is concerned so why not buy my pants locally!
- Made with heart and soul: It would be ideal to have eco friendly fabric (recycled, organic, natural dyes), locally made or supporting offshore ethical production, charity affiliation, supports an end of product life recycling program, and aesthetically pleasing. Getting all of these boxes ticked would be a dream, but obviously isn’t possible for every purchase if things are to be the best ‘fit for purpose’. As I have mentioned recently, leggings are one of the few items where I prefer a technical fabric over a organic natural fabric (they last so much longer and don’t pill or bag out) so I was very pleased to settle for ethical manufacturing, a brand with a focus on conscious living, and the exact cut and fabric as my current worn out leggings (which will be demoted to dog walking).
- Make me feel happy and fit with my current closet: If something doesn’t feel quite right with you when you try on a garment then you likely won’t ever get comfortable with it. As much as we try to tell ourselves clothing is just ‘stuff’ that we put on every morning it really is an extension of our personal expression and the first thing that others see. No matter what the sales assistant or your friends say, if something doesn’t feel right then don’t buy it even if it is fit for purpose or ticks all the ethical/eco boxes. Sometimes we can swing the other way in the fitting room, trying on something so different and falling in love with it. There is a fine line between challenging your style preferences to try something new, and being totally sucked in by the atmosphere or the moment. When you are standing in a trendy athletic store it is easy to fall in love with those fluro-orange leggings. They look so good on! Normally your wouldn’t wear fluro orange but these really suit! The music is pumping in store, the lights make you look super toned, and the tank the sales assistant gave you to try with the pants is so slimming. Post purchase you head home to try your leggings on with your current closet and realise it just doesn’t work and you look like a highlighter. This is a wasted opportunity and a waste of time. Always take into account your current closet when making purchasing decisions. It is nice to contemplate the thought ‘would this item go with at least five things I currently own’.
After working through this thought process I was happy to purchase my new collection of leggings from Hatha Clothing yesterday afternoon. What’s even better is I trialled my new ‘paint brush’ leggings (above) yesterday at the gym and they performed perfectly. No riding up or down and after a sweaty workout they fit like a second skin! In fact they made me that happy that it felt a little upsetting to have to take them off to shower and go to bed. The purchase of these new leggings un-intentionally coincided with my 500th gym visit, and will henceforth be known as ‘party pants’ in my mind.
There is something immensely satisfying about going through this extensive process and coming out with the most fabulous item first time around! Ethical shopping, while a far more involved process than heading to the local department store, is such a satisfying experience and one that you can’t help but want to share!
Stay tuned for an interview with the founder of Hatha Clothing (she is such a beautiful Brazilian sweet-heart!)