Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Longing to be an Ethics Girl

Probably the most powerful consumer choice I have made recently is NOT to buy things.

So far this year, my only clothing-related High Street (online) purchase has been a scarf from Uniqlo's Laura Ashley collaboration, pictured in this post.  A small percentage of the proceeds went to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  I would love to tell you that I knew this before I pressed "Purchase", but I didn't.  It was a moment of blind consumerism, which turned out to have ethical credentials - lucky fluke, eh?!

I have been reading a lot about ethics and fashion in recent weeks.  I am particularly enjoying the intelligent analysis to be found over at Empty Emptor.

Just this morning, FL commented on how I may not be buying clothes but I was certainly accumulating stuff.  He didn't mean it as a criticism, and let's face it, he has no room to talk about hoarding in light of his newsprint addiction, but it brought me up short.  I don't enjoy the heavy feeling that having too many possessions induces.  Time for another paring-down session I think.

That Etsy pattern shop is on its way!

I also intend to cull my fabric stash.  Why am I holding on to fabric that I don't love?  I may eventually sew it up into clothes I don't like... and then what?  What a waste of energy!

I have been operating on a principle of "one out, one in" in terms of books.  I recently sold a dud knitting book and purchased a Japanese sewing book to take its place. That feels OK:  a balanced approach.

Ali recently wrote about her own feelings of guilt and the desire to live with less, here.   I commented that I needed to think more about "longing".  Ali viewed "longing" as a negative concept, and this startled me.  "Longing" is such a wonderfully evocative word, conjuring images of a Victorian heroine.  Lucy Snowe in Villette comes to mind.  For me, "longing"  has connotations of secret love, repressed aspirations, and inner fire.  It is about building up inspiration and imaginative resources in the face of adversity, so that one day, I will be ready to... be myself, to seize the day.

But perhaps I ought to be seizing the day right now!  I could be ME... now! Really?!

Meanwhile, I found another source of ethical fabrics.  Go and have a look.  I am thinking.


Ali said...

How well-timed! I was just about to respond to your comment on my blog, but all the better to respond to it here.

I agree that longing evokes many positive connotations. Like yearning or aspire, such great words. But I spend an awful lot of time longing -- wanting things I don't currently have and that sometimes leads me to feeling like I don't have enough. I want to long, absolutely. I want to doodle and dream of projects. I want to imagine something fun/creative/better/interesting. It's often the path that gets me to doing and making.

But goodness I spend a lot of time oogling things on the internet, longing for more things than I could possibly use. Patterns and fabric and too-expensive dresses and swimwear. So I'd like to spend a little less time longing and little more time feeling grateful for what I do have.

I've been reading the Empty Emptor posts too! Thanks for this post -- it's great to see how others are grappling with these same issues -- and know I'll be longing for some of your patterns in your Etsy store ;)

Lucy said...

Ooh, what a wonderful source.

I know exactly what you mean about always wanting MORE. Problem is, I've yet to find where my happy equilibrium is (and I mean my equilibrium, not yours or my mother's or my husband's or what anyone else thinks it ought to be.)

Scruffybadger said...

Yes a beautifully provocative post that helps us realise that it' s ok to long, because actually the world of having everything we want can be pretty vacuous, hiding lack of something more fundamental. I think I mean two things: 1. I really appreciated not having a tailors dummy for over a year, or more, saving slowly and pathetically, and being topped up as the best birthday pressie. I could have just bought it and said stuff it, but as a one off purchase it was a lot. Therefore it had so much more meaning. 2. Why do we think we need so much, what are we compensating for? Me? I'm compensating for wishing I could have more me time and not work full time.....

Sølvi said...

I am loving the offset warehouse! Thanks for the tip. And I like the word longing as well. I long for spring, for instance. :-)

House of Pinheiro said...

Indeed, I have been also reading about this issue for an assignment . Nearly 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used throughout the world to turn raw materials into textiles. According to Technical Textile Markets , demand for man-made fibers such as petroleum-derived polyester has nearly doubled in the last 15 years. According to UK Government figures, the industry dumps 1.5 million tonnes of unwanted clothing in landfill every year. It means that truly sustainable fashion is a huge challenge for the future.


Felicity from Down Under said...

Sometimes it is just too difficult to be ethical about clothing purchases (we are when we can be, I suppose) but we shouldn't beat ourselves up because we occasionally fall off the wagon. That isn't productive either. And longing? Yeah, it's a word with many connotations, isn't it? Longing for sunshine and laughter is one of my pet themes.

I wanted to post this but I can't read the verification words :(

Christine Laennec said...

Great post. If we really thought about the human implications of so many of the consumer goods in our everyday lives, I don't think we'd take them so much for granted. It's almost paralysing - but good to see that it's possible to choose another way (especially if you can sew your own clothes). I'm curious to see the Mary Portas show about pants made in Nottingham.

Minnado said...

I like the Offset warehouse, thank you for the link. I have been accumulating more stuff recently,nearly all from the charity shops though and still am trying to rid myself of what I already have! I can see I am going to buy stuff because I am walking past the charity shop every day with my pram and find it hard to resist going in for a look. I think it is making me feel better for lack of sleep and sane adult company!!

Shannon said...

I yearn to live a life with less accumulation, but I've never really got it started. I love the feeling of a house with less stuff in it. I good purge and donation feels wonderful, but I'd rather not "collect" anyway. I buy alot of baby things these days with the justification that "we'll have more kids and won't have to buy this stuff then", but that's wearing thin. I must make more effort - thank you for the reminder.