Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Accidental Environmentalist

Growing up I always thought that "Environmentalist" was a bit of a dirty word. It was used as a put down, a slightly more acceptable version than "Hippy", but none the less it tended to be said with scorn. The people I knew who cared about trees and nature were a rather smelly bunch, all knee sock with sandals, unshaven in various forms. I secretly referred to them as "wholemeal people". Yet somehow their message reached me in such a gentle way I never knew it was hidden inside me until recent years.

I consider myself very fortunate to be of the generation that grew up right before the mad mad sense of consumerism we have now hit. There was no tween fashion, no fast fashion and the concept of buying something new everyday would have had people in stitches. Only the crazy rich people did that sort of stupid thing, we thought. Yet slowly, slowly this has become the norm. As everything has the bejezzus merchandised and marketed out of it, we seem to walk along in a haze of consumerist fog. But there is hope on the horizon.

Living in Australia, land of drought and natural resources, I have gradually become more conscious of doing my part. We have rain water tanks collecting what little comes from the sky, power meters to monitor and reduce consumption, and have even been known to do a little vegetable growing. Yet it was the change in my wardrobe that has surprised me the most.

While continuing with the major household purge project, I stood in front of my wardrobe wondering where all this space I was supposedly reclaiming had gone. And while it seems that my closet still runneth over, I noticed something very interesting. About 85% or more of my wardobe is recycled or made by me! This means second hand finds, vintage clothing, hand me downs and swaps, as well as the many items I have successfully made. Unlike some other ethical fashion bloggers, I did not set out of a particular mission to buy nothing new, or consciously boycott the need to consume, as you well know I am a legendary shopper. But somehow, the concept of waste not want not, and the belief that there must be a better way has painted itself in broad strokes across my wardrobe.

I consider myself fortunate that I want for nothing and can afford to go out and buy whatever I want at any time, yet I wonder if looking at a wardrobe full of new fast fashion purchases would make me feel as proud. I love the challenge of creating a stylish outfit from my treasure hunts and not looking like a bag lady or starving artist. There is more opportunity for creativity, art and personal flair when you are not lifting your look, item for item, from the pages of your favorite glossy; and indeed a much greater sense of achievement. But even more so to realise that your fashion choices are the right ones for generations to come.

Not only will I teach my daughters to dress well by example, but to learn the art of ethical style. Perhaps if we women, the biggest consumer group of all, learnt to change this one compulsion, we could single handedly change the course of global warming? We will without a doubt make a difference in the amount of product wasted; in poor working conditions and environmental damage; and in supporting our local economies.

It seems like such a small thing, looking at my wardrobe, and would have been nothing earth shattering to our grandmothers; but given the frenzy we have all been in, it is. Perhaps the title of Environmentalist may not fit me yet, as I am a long way off spending my weekends on reforestation projects. And my look has a lot more hip than hippy to it. So for now lets just say, Super Kawaii Mama - Giving A Damn.

10 comments:

Mademoiselle Baudelaire said...

I know you're gonna get this alot on this post, but those shoes are gorgeous!

ps. I like the way you think, it's very admirable. I am not a fan of 'throw away' fashion, and things people would only wear once. wedding dresses excepted!

Maggan said...

Hi there! Just wanted to say that i like your stile! saw your "hair videos" in youtube.. great tips!

/ Magdalena in Sweden.
www.magggan.blogg.se

Barry Wright, III said...

This is wonderful to hear. Eco-fashion can still be (awesome) fashion! The underlying attitude you have is one that needs to be spread, and hopefully companies will have to follow suit.

Emer said...

Here here! I hope once I get my vintage-fashion feet on the ground my shopping will become less and less and my making things will become the norm. I thrift now, but I'm sure I could be thrifting more...

Eloise said...

Hi, i think you're right, as often!Making new clothes with old ones is in general dedicated to poor countries, as in Africa for exemple (i think about cameroon) where they create some nice things. For exemple, my mom sent me a picture last time of a leather couch made of old italian shoes, that was pretty and fun. And about re-using things my bro keeps his hi-fi and cd in an old fashioned 50's orange fridge!
Anyway your style is just wonderful and so personal, there's no price for that!To end i'll quote India Arie because anyway "a lady ain't what she wears but what she knows", and we know that you are a wise woman.
ps: tanx for answering my email!

Miss Lady Finger said...

Yes! Yes yes yes yes yes.....
I'm so happy to read this post! I must ask, do you know of any 'ethical fashion' blogs? Please share? xxx

Elizabeth Bennet said...

Miss Lady Finger - I'm not sure if it comes under the heading "ethical fashion", but my friend Cate makes and sells accessories from recycled materials and is a great advocate of "no-spend" crafting. You can check out her blog at http://rabbitwithpolkadots.blogspot.com/

On a slightly self-promotional note, I was wondering if SKM and her readers would like to enter my competition? By posting on my blog at http://lilylovemenot.blogspot.com you could win a print of one of my photographs!

hehe.. sorry for the advertisment, but I want everyone to have a chance!

xoxo

flair to remember said...

What an absolutely fabulous post!! I feel exactly the same as you on this one! Bravo!

xx

Alternative Fashion Blogger said...

Huzzah, well said!

The Sequin Cat said...

Great post!