March update – a year of shopping consciously

When I set up this challenge for myself, I hadn’t anticipated just how much rewiring it was going to take. It’s so easy to revert to old thoughtless habits when you’re struck by a good offer!

In summary, progress so far has been hit and miss, if I am completely honest. I certainly still have a long way to go. However, one of the biggest things that has surprised me is that a lot of companies are using more conscious materials in their products. These are not companies that advertise as being eco-friendly and is certainly not their sole purpose. They are somehow responding to a shift in demand. I’m not clear on their reasons, perhaps they are driven by the consumer market, perhaps they are having to adapt to new rules, perhaps they want to appear more ‘woke’ and appeal to a younger audience. Whatever the reason, it should be encouraged and I would love to see more!

Woden Magda boots

Purchases I have made have been varied. The larger, more expensive items have been a little easier to achieve. These are the purchases that cost more and so I tend to research more and are generally more considered. It has also been relatively easy for me to find brands that use some recycled/sustainable materials, though admittedly not all materials. For example, I needed some boots for wet and sometimes muddy conditions and came across a brand called Woden. The boots are waterproof, have cork insoles, made from 100% recycled lining and webbing and with natural rubber and some recycled. A huge bonus is that they are stylish!

The pitfalls in purchases have been the convenience items and the stuff in the sale. For example, when out with my sister trying to find a coat for her, I came across a couple of good quality, timeless dresses reduced from £65 to £26. It was hard to say no… the better person would just not buy them and be content with clothes they already own. For me, clothes are a real expression of personality and a chance of empowerment. Many of my clothes are compromises with budget and don’t fully match ‘me’. So, when I saw a good deal on something that matches me perfectly, I didn’t even think.

This is a wiring issue that needs resolving ASAP. In fact, last year I bought some great second hand clothes – two tops and a dress for the sum of about £15. And have had many complements while wearing them! I certainly need to make more effort to shop second hand. The hardest bit with it is the sheer openness of it. It’s difficult to find something when you’re looking for a specific item, or for a specific occasion. It’s also a challenge for me to rummage through rail after rail, I’m one of those scan from a distance types. In any case, this has taught me to just try a little harder…

It isn’t all doom and gloom however. There are some habits that have been developing over the years that are well embedded now. We use eco-friendly washing up liquid, recycled toilet paper, clean with soapy water as much as possible, try to buy plastic free products from Lush. Some investment pieces that come highly recommended are a safety razor, reusable ear swab, natural body sponge, reusable cotton pads and bamboo toothbrushes. I’ve also been slowly growing towards avoiding fast fashion and making fewer bigger purchases with the hope that the items will last longer and be a bit more timeless. I categorically avoid Primark, but appreciate even some higher end brands don’t exactly follow ethical procedures. The balance between fashion, sustainability and budget is a hard one to master and I can only hope I keep getting better at it. At this stage I’m disappointed in myself for not trying a bit harder, but try to stay positive and remember that doing something is better than doing nothing at all!

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