#11: How to "buy less, choose well, and make it last"
Or how I stopped being a damn hypocrite when shopping
“Buy less, choose well, make it last.” - Vivienne Westwood
Yes, this is a note about fashion.
See, I’m really good at helping underserved people from a business strategy lens. Want me to articulate your nonprofit’s business model? Done. Can I help make a case for impact investors or funders about how impact and revenue align? Absolutely.
Yet lately I’ve been a bit more introspective and self-critical of not just walking the walk in my consulting work, but also in my daily life. If I’m getting paid to help an ethical brand better support the economic opportunity of the artisans it works with, but then turning around and shopping at fast fashion retailers and buying clothes made in sweatshops where human labor is just a line item on a P&L statement (let us not forget the tragic and preventable collapse of the clothing factory in Bangladesh that happened five years ago this week), I’m a damn hypocrite.
A year or so ago I also started branding myself on Instagram, and found this whole ethical fashion community that not only shows pretty pictures of cool clothes and accessories but also empowers consumers with resources to easily evaluate and find ethical brands.
There’s this whole other sustainability and environmental impact component of ethical fashion as well (note there: the number one action item you can take is to take no action at all and stop buying new sh** all the time). As a professional I have no claim to impact in the sustainability space, but as a consumer and individual I 100% want to minimize my footprint there, so these resources have been awesome.
This week is Fashion Revolution week, dedicated to celebrating ethical brands and calling out those brands that may not be so transparent. The Fashion Revolution site has a ton of resources and calls to action. Take one today; it doesn’t have to involve shopping – you can get involved through social media, letter writing and more.
And next time you do buy some stuff, think about where it came from. Think about the people and resources involved in its construction. Consider how long it’ll last. If you’re like me, in the first few weeks or months of this you’ll probably just get overwhelmed and walk away from a lot of purchases, which has a fantastic impact on your wallet – and in turn you’ll all of a sudden have funds to buy just a few, high quality, ethical things. Just like Vivienne Westwood told us all to do.