What is Ethical Fashion and Why Should I buy it?

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Today, Monday 22nd until Sunday 28th is Fashion Revolution Week. Fashion Revolution is an organization formed by Orsola di Castro??

What is ethical fashion?

To really define ethical fashion is quite hard. I always saw (and still do see) ethical fashion as fashion that focused on social aspects of the fashion process, ethical and fair trade labor, companies that made sure that workers were paid fairly and worked in safe and humane conditions. This is also often the use I see from a lot of brands promoting themselves as ethical.

In its essence though, ethical fashion is a wide definition of designing, producing and distributing fashion with ethics in mind. This means ethical in regard to all. To the planet, the people within the supply chain, as well as animals. Thus it encompasses both eco-friendly/sustainability, cruelty-free and fair labor.

If we look at an example, Everlane is often championed as an ethical brand. The reason for this is that they are somewhat transparent and use ethical factories. So nothing really about the environment or animal welfare. This is what makes the term quite confusing.

Why is it needed?

According to Fashion Revolution  women in the Guangdong region in China (where a lot of fashion is made) have to work up towards 150 hours of overtime every month. In addition, only about 10 percent of them have access to social insurance. In Bangladesh, the workers are only earning about one-fourth of the living wage, about 44£ a month! At the same time, the amount of fashion that is produced per year has more than doubled since the year 2000. In 2014, we bought 60 percent more garments than in 2000, while only keeping each garment for half the amount of time.

No matter if it’s the planet or the people you are more passionate about, these statistics clearly show that the speed of which the fashion industry is moving at is ever increasing and the planet and the people in the industry are paying the price. Fashion is a huge industry and it has the chance to make a great impact if it were to make sustainable changes.

Why is it more expensive?

Today most of us have access to fast fashion and have probably bought a t-shirt for less than 10€. So it makes sense that a lot of people would be shocked to see an ethically produced t-shirt cost four times as much. Ever since fashion was outsourced to cheaper countries, there has been a race for cheaper. When one country’s labor becomes too expensive (ergo, they get better paid), companies simply move their production to another, poorer, cheaper country. Until that country gets better wages and they move onto the next.

Fast fashion has given us a screwed view of what things actually cost because when you shop for fast fashion there is usually someone else paying. When you buy a cheap t-shirt, there really is no room for paying the workers fairly because after material costs and markups there is next to nothing left for the workers. It’s simple math.

This doesn’t mean that all items that are slightly more expensive pay fair wages. It might just be a higher markup to ear more money. But it’s safe to say that if you cannot believe how cheap it is, you can be pretty sure that someone along the line wasn’t paid.

Who made my clothes?

This is the question that Fashion Revolution wants us to pose to our favorite brands. Even though most brands write in which country the item has been produced, very few share who or even in which factory it was produced. A lot of times they do not even know. The supply chains are today a huge net of factories in many different countries and continents and the traceability is lacking. By demanding brands to answer the question of who made my clothes you are demanding a fairer production and a more transparent production.

So who will you be asking?

How you can score new things without buying

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We know that overconsumption is a problem and that we need to find a more circular approach in fashion, as well as buying less in general. So to follow up my latest post about shopping bans I wanted to share some more ideas on how you can get more variety in your closet without buying anything new.

5 ways to renew your closet without consumption

Swapping

Swapping parties have become a huge thing lately, and it’s because they are a great way of both getting rid of things you don’t like anymore or wear enough, while also scoring some new finds. It’s usually free or at a small fee to attend a swap party. If there are none in your area, why not try organizing your own one? Maybe bring together some friends for a swap date or organize one in your office after work.

Borrowing

Another great option to inject a bit of variety into one’s closet without consumption is to borrow clothes. Borrow from friends, parents, siblings, a partner or whatever makes sense to you. For special occasions like weddings and parties, it’s a great idea to look around with your friends to see if anyone has formal wear you could borrow. Borrowing in your friend group can allow you to attend every party with a new dress without straining the environment or your finances. Borrowing is not only for formal though. I do it for everyday things too. Borrowing a cardigan from my mom when I feel cold, or a shirt from a boyfriend to get that perfect oversize fit.

Refashioning

This one requires a certain amount of craft skills, but don’t be put off, you don’t have to be a tailor to refashion or upcycle garments. One simple thing one can do with an item is to dye it in another color. Maybe you can update your old jeans by cropping them or adding some simple embroidery? Take the sleeves off a t-shirt to make a sleeveless top or crop it to make a crop top? If you are good with sewing the sky is the limit! Dresses can be shortened, made into a shirt, made into a top or redesigned completely into a new garment.

Renting & subscribing

Obviously, this option still costs money. However, it is a way of consuming that means less strain on the planet (sharing is caring) and it can help you avoid expensive purchases you only use once. If you have a thing for trends, subscriptions are a great way of exploring trends without having to expand your closet.

Use (all of) what you own

Most of the time we own a lot of clothes that we barely know exist. It is said that we wear 20 percent of the clothes we own for 80 percent of the time. Just by doing a dig through your piles of clothing you can find an old favorite that you forgot about. It’s like finding money in your pocket you didn’t know you put there!

Start getting creative with what you own. Try using and combining items in a way you never did before, dress up casual items, dress down fancier ones, and add an accessory to elevate a look. With just a few clothing items you can come a long way when combining wisely!

Why and How You Should Do a Shopping Ban

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A shopping ban is exactly what it sounds like, a ban from shopping. But the exact rules for a shopping ban tends to differ depending on who you ask. Most people, however, would include any shopping in the form of clothes and apparel, as well as shoes and accessories. Many would also add any items for the home or tech appliances.

So why should you try a shopping ban, and how do you do it?

Why should you do a shopping ban?

There are many reasons for doing a shopping ban, but I would ultimately say that they all include something. And that is sustainability. Ther reasons might be:

Financial sustainability

It’s quite common for people that are in debt or are facing tough financial times to cut their shopping for a shorter or longer period. It allows them to cut their unnecessary spendings from shopping to better their financial status.

Environmental sustainability

More and more people are getting aware of the fact that overconsumption is killing the planet and the people. Buying less stuff will have a positive impact on one’s personal impact on the world. It will mean fewer resources used to produce products for you, as well as fewer things to have to recycle, reuse, repurpose.

Mental sustainability

There is a reason why Marie Kondo and minimalism have become a big trend. Living with less can give you more time for the things that really matter. If you are a shopaholic and only find joy in buying new things all the time a shopping ban can be a great way to kick the bad habit.

No matter why you want to buy less a shopping ban is a great way to detox your shopping habits.

How to do it?

Set clear rules

The first thing to do is to set rules that work for your situation. If you have kids it might be hard to ban all type of shopping you do, but you could decide that purchases for the children are okay, but not for you. Some people think that gifts are okay to buy, as they are not for yourself. Some people include almost all purchases in a ban, even experiences such as travels, concerts and restaurant visits.

If you have any purchases you know will be needed during the time of the shopping ban, it’s a good idea to write out a list of needed items that are exempt from the ban. You might need to buy a bridesmaid’s dress for your best friends wedding, your running shoes are starting to break, or your computer is really old and you do not know if it will survive the time. The rules are for you to have a better experience and to hold yourself accountable.

Be realistic

This one is probably the most important one. You need to be realistic with both the rules of the shopping ban and during the actual process. What works for others might not be for you. I know people who have done modified shopping bans where they are not allowed to buy anything new, but they can buy second hand.

Also, don’t be a Scrooge for things like your health and wellbeing and don’t feel bad if unexpected expenses come up. You might get a bad toothache that will result in expensive appointments. There is nothing you can do about this (except maybe keeping a buffer for unexpected events), so just deal with it and move on. You simply need to give room to life happening, e.g. it’s okay to replace something you really need that breaks, it will not make you a bad person. The ban is a detox, it is meant to change your habits, not get rid of them all together!

Remove & avoid the temptation

Just like when you’re on a diet (not that I really do diets, because they kinda suck) it’s a good idea to remove and avoid all temptation. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

A great first step in removing temptation is to unsubscribe from all sources that usually triggers your shopping behavior. This can mean unsubscribing from e-mails or send-outs from companies, as well as muting or unsubscribing from brands or influencers on social media. Avoiding temptation can mean that you avoid going into stores all together or at least the ones where you usually shop. It can mean that you avoid going to the mall since it might trigger you. Sometimes it might even involve avoiding certain people that seem to trigger your behavior…

Change your habits

Changing your habits and exchanging them for new (healthier) ones is key to remaining the behavior after the ban is over. Otherwise, you risk returning to bad habits once the ban is off. It doesn’t really matter what you fill your time with, you could swap scrolling through online shopping sites for reading a book, or knitting, or whatever that makes you feel good. But try to swap it for something positive. Sometimes we do not understand how much time we actually spend consuming or looking to consume, but if you use that time wisely, you can come a long way!

Remember it’s not forever

Maybe this seems a little bit contradictive to the last point. Obviously, the intention of the ban is to challenge one’s perceptions and habits. Still, remembering that it’s not forever can help deal with it. Hopefully, when later comes and the ban is over, you won’t have the same urge to buy anymore, and you will have a more conscious relationship to shopping.

Find your creativity

When you are not allowed to follow in your old habits of buying new every time you feel uninspired or bored it is vital to get more creative with what you have. If interior decor is your thing, you could get creative by using items from nature, upcycling things (maybe making a nice candle holder from a glass jar?), or simply rearrange the furniture a bit. If clothing is your biggest vice you could try borrowing from friends, refashion things you already own or try find a way to use something in the not intended way (like a dress as a skirt/top…). I have also found help in using the Cladwell app. It can give you suggestions on how to combine the items you have in ways you didn’t think of before.

Are you up for a shopping ban?

April challenge – shopping ban

Shopping mallIf you didn’t know, during April it’s Fashion Revolution Week. It was created as a reminder of Rana Plaza, the clothing factory in Bangladesh that collapsed on April 24th in 2013 killing 1134 people, and tries to raise the question of fair and ethical conditions within the fashion industry. As a way of honoring this week and the horrible conditions many (most) garment workers face today, I decided to make my April challenge a shopping ban.

So why did I decide to do a shopping ban? Well, mostly because over-consumption is one of the biggest problems in fashion today! In the last decades, the consumption of clothing has drastically increased, while the prices and thus salaries for those making the clothes have gone down. One of the best ways of decreasing one’s own impact through fashion is to buy less, so that’s what I’m doing! One month is a pretty short time, but sometimes it’s harder than you think because our entire society is built around shopping and consumption. We are constantly told to renew ourselves, our closets and our homes and this pressure can make even the most conscious person go crazy. For me, one month is a start and probably, I will challenge myself to a longer period soon.

So what does this small shopping ban entail? Well, it means no buying clothes, shoes, accessories, home decor, books or anything. The only thing I am allowed to consume is necessary stuff such as hygiene products, medicine, and food.

Have you ever tried a shopping ban or have you thought about doing one?

Declutter your tech: computer

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Just like a smartphone, many of us tend to use our computers a lot of the time, whether it’s for work or just personal use. A decluttered computer with freed up space can help you be more efficient and experience less waiting times because of a slowed down system. Compared to a phone, we tend to stock even more unnecessary things on a computer, since it has more storage space. We tend to save old documents, family photos and videos, music and what not. Even though the files look small, it easily builds up until you get a notification that you have less than 1% storage space left. So how do you deal with the computer? Where do you start in the decluttering?

Programs & Apps

Well, I say start with the biggest (and probably easiest) first. Programs and apps. Depending on how your OS works you’ll have programs or apps installed on your computer. These you should go through, delete anything you do not need or that takes up too much space. If you have a Mac, go through the dock to see what programs you actually use on a regular basis, the others you can remove from there (I don’t mean delete completely, just from the dock). If you have the option to group programs together, this can be an idea too (I have grouped all Microsoft programs together in a folder, as well as Adobe).

Photos

After arranging the programs I would continue with photos. Start with deleting all bad photos, duplicates, etc. then do a back-up either to an external hard drive or to an online cloud service or similar. Or do both. I have previously used Flickr for storage, but unfortunately, they no longer allow free unlimited storage, so if you have a lot it might not suffice. I also use Google Photos (mostly for RAW format). I also keep an external hard drive around for extra safety. When the deleting and saving part is done you can either leave it or you can continue with organizing it all. I have all my photos organized into years and months so that I can easily find what I am looking for. Special trips are also in designated folders. Newer cameras and smartphones will also have the geotag option which is neat for grouping albums together. Whatever suits your needs best is the best option!

Music & Video

After photos, go through other files, such as films and music. If you are like me and you use streaming services for everything connected to media, then maybe you don’t need to keep your old library of iTunes songs that take up space? If you do not use them, but still do not feel ready to part with them, maybe a solution can be to transfer them to an external hard drive for safekeeping? Either way, the same procedure applies here as with photos. Delete everything not needed, back-up and then organize the remainders in a suitable way.

Documents

When all media is done and sorted through it’s time to deal with all your documents. Delete everything you don’t want or need to keep. Then back-up all (I keep mine in Dropbox). Something I try to avoid are “lose” documents. I put everything in folders named related to what it is so I can more easily find them. For example, I have folders that are called *School”, “Work”, “Important”, and under each, I have further classification like “Master’s”, “High School”, etc.. 

E-mail & Bookmarks

Finally done with all files, it’s time to take on the online stuff, like your e-mail and saved bookmarks. Go through e-mail, unsubscribe to all that “bad stuff” you do not need in your life (like online shops that spark your inner shopaholic, things you never signed up for…), create a system of how to categorize the e-mails you need to be saved (I use folder for this too, like “Work”, “Payments & Receipts”, “Important”). Then starts the big job. To get the inbox down to (more or less) zero. It’s not necessary to have a completely empty inbox (I, for one, like to leave important e-mails in the inbox as flagged as to not miss/forget them), but it’s really nice when you have had an inbox of 1000+ e-mails to get down to 20 or even 50. A good way to avoid getting a cluttered inbox is to delete the irrelevant ones directly. I try to do this immediately when I read them, so I don’t have to go over 1000+ emails every time I feel like decluttering. Also, don’t forget to go through your saved folders every now and then. Something that was important a year ago might not be today!

Lastly, go through bookmarks! I tend to save a lot of stuff to my bookmarks, which in the end can make it quite hard and annoying to find things. Go through them all and rearrange those you want to keep and delete the rest.

Now what?

Now you can enjoy a computer that is less cluttered and less stressful!

At least until the next decluttering session!

Declutter you tech: phone & tablet

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How decluttering your phone can make you feel better

Let’s face it, most of us rely on our phones a lot. We use it as a camera, we use it as a calendar, for reminders, for grocery list and all this is in addition to its original use communication.

When your phone is cluttered, it can feel crowded and stressful. There are too many apps taking up storage, you have trouble finding all your pictures because there are so many and you have no system for them. Also, you never seem to find the right number you are looking for in the contact list because you seem to have kept all contacts since you were in junior high. Then all of a sudden it starts acting up because you have no storage room left (this seems to happen no matter how many GB there are in there…).

Easily put, decluttering your phone will have the benefit of making it more easily manageable, which in turn will lead to you having to spend less time using it. This, of course, can lead to you clearing up precious time you could spend on more fun things. Decluttering your phone is similar to decluttering your home or your closet, you can expect less time looking for things and more ease of mind.

So how to go about it?

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I always like to start with something easy, just to get into it a bit. For me, this tends to be apps.

Go through all your apps and delete the ones that are not being used or that take to much energy or time from your day (or that give you anxiety or maybe even an urge to shop!). Then arrange them in groups/folders according to what they are about, so you minimize the space needed. Then you drag them to the second and/or third page and only leave the most used/necessary ones on the home screen. It’s less stressful to be met by a clean, decluttered home screen than a crowded, messy one. I also would suggest a clean background that does not distract. If you want to use a family photo or something fun, maybe that can be used as a screen saver instead?

After apps, I suggest moving on to pictures, which if you are like me, might be a slightly more time-consuming feat. Go through all your photos! Delete old screenshots, duplicates and just plainly bad photos that you have no use or joy for. If you feel like more decluttering in the photo department you can transfer them to your computer or a cloud service and delete them locally, which will allow you to open up more storage space on your device. If you are more like me, who likes to keep things on all possible devices, or you have no problem with space, create albums that are based on happenings, what type of photo it is, or based on time (+ also make sure to have a back up anyways, since your phone might give up on you). This will allow you to find photos you are looking for quicker.

One thing I am guilty of is keeping all contacts. Honestly, will you ever again call your old soccer coach you haven’t seen in six years? And if so, don’t you think you could find his number on the white pages? Also, today you can pretty much reach anyone through Facebook, so if you get FOMO from deleting someone’s number, don’t!

Text messages. I honestly, don’t really use them anymore. Most of my communications go through Facebook messenger or Whatsapp. Still, I do get a fair share of messages for important things (or from grandma), so doing a clean here can be beneficial. You will have to decide yourself what is irrelevant here. I delete all promotional and reminder e-mails and only keep the conversations from friends and family. If you are not at all sentimental, you could always wipe it completely.

Lastly, we have video and music. If you are like me and you use streaming services you won’t really need to do much in this area, but if not. Look into what you actually need on your phone and what you can be without. Another thing I would like to add here is podcasts. I love them, but they tend to take up more space than any other app or file, so I try to make sure to “unsave” the episodes every now and then.

Tablet

This obviously only applies if you have a tablet, which I do. I use it mostly for reading, watching clips and movies, as well as playing games. This also means that I do not keep a lot of files on there.

For the tablet, the same process as for the phone applies: apps, photos, movies, and music.

Here I also keep a good amount of downloaded documents in iBooks, so going through them to delete all the old things I do not need (looking at you pdf from second year of uni…) is a must.

Extra

If you want to go even further in your decluttering, go ahead with your other tech.

If you have a camera:

  • Delete all duplicates and bad photos.
  • Transfer all photos to a computer (or wherever you tend to keep them).

Another neat thing to do is to look through all the chords and devices you have at home. Do you use all? Do you need all? Have you maybe thrown away the device that actually goes with that one chord? Then that should go too!

 

How to Stay Mindful on Social Media

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Social media can be a great source of inspiration and a way to keep in contact with friends and family. It can equally be a source of great stress and anxiety, leading us to feel bad about ourselves and our lives.

So what can one do to maintain a healthy relationship to social media?

My first tip is one that I live by, only follow people or accounts that make you feel good or inspired! When you notice someone’s account or pictures on social media are constantly bringing you down and making you feel bad, unfollow them, forever or for a while. Maybe you are in a bad place right now and you cannot handle that influence. If it’s a friend or someone you don’t want to hurt, try just turning off their visibility or notifications. I have over the years gone from obsessively following fashion people, who after a while made me feel bad because I just didn’t look that way or could afford the things they were consuming, to only following fitness people, which in the beginning motivated me, but in the end, just made me feel unworthy. Lately, I have been weeding out all accounts that are wasteful or don’t care about sustainability, they tend to anger me and I really don’t need that type of negativity in my life.

My best way of keeping this balance of only following accounts that makes me feel happy or inspired is to occasional audit and sort out irrelevant accounts. Sometimes it happens simultaneously when I am scrolling in the feed and I see something that makes me feel bad. However, I try to take some time every now and then, when I notice that social media makes me feel more anger and sadness than joy and fulfillment, to go through all my followings and contacts.

Lastly, a simple reminder to all of you. The most important one. Remember that social media is not reality! It’s easy to get wrapped up in other peoples’ accounts and believe that it is how their lives look like all the time. But comparing yourself to someone who gets clothes for free and has a personal photographer or who has the money to travel 300 days out of the year is not going to make you happy. And to be honest, they are probably struggling with many of the things you are, even though their lives seem like a dream to you.