So we’re onto the third instalment of Walking the Ethical Tightrope and today we’re talking about how people have reacted to my decision to try and only shop ethically. If you’re just tuning in now I recommend scanning over my previous two pieces (which you can read here and here) about how I got started as well as all the mistakes I’ve made.
So as I’ve mentioned previously, when I decided to start shopping ethically I felt a golden light spring out from my body and surround my being, much like a demigod. Here I was trying to better the lives of others and better the planet around me, surely everyone would immediately drop to their knees exclaiming what a heavenly creature I was and congratulate me on my valiant efforts to make a difference in this world. Boy, was I wrong.
I was under no illusion that everyone around me was going to throw out their fast fashion clothes and try to make the change, but I what I hadn't prepared for was for people to assume I was better than them because I’d made that personal choice. Here’s something I learnt very quickly, when you are trying to do something that is different to those around you a lot of people assume you think their personal choice are wrong and are disgusting. And as soon as people think you are looking down on them they get super defensive. I mean, shit, if I even get a whiff of someone thinking their better than me, then immediately I claw at their high ground and try and give them the whoop ass that they deserve for daring to think they’re better than me. I truly understand the reaction, I do, which is why I was quite happy to explain that I don’t think any less of anyone who doesn’t shop ethically, or sustainably, or whatever you want to call it. I don’t think less of someone who shops differently to me because it’s fucking hard work, not to mention there is a huge amount of privilege that intersects with it (more on that next time).
Once I’d got over the hurdle of explaining that I didn’t think any less of anyone for their retail choices, then came the need to point out all the ways what I was doing wasn’t going to make a difference, and in some cases it was going to worsen the lives of the people who work in clothing factories. However, most of these opinions came from people who had done no research into the fast fashion industry. I enjoy a really good thought-provoking debate as much as the next person, but guess what? I don’t need to hear your negative Nelly comments every time it comes up in conversation, so when someone isn’t going to come to the table with at least the decency to listen to my explanation then I’m not going to sweat over pulling your heels from the mud.
Now that was all pretty negative, but I have had some really great interactions that have come from my attempts to shop ethically. Some have supported me whole-heartedly, and even if they don’t shop ethically themselves, they at least listen to me ramble on about, because they understand it’s something that I’m passionate about. I’ve also had some amazing conversations with shop assistants, special shout out to the White Stuff assistant I spoke to who knew her shit and was more than happy to explain the company’s ethical policy to me, despite my inability to shop there because it’s above my student loan life. And some people have been really interested and have even started to think more consciously about where they’re shopping and where their money is going.
So on one end I’ve found myself having to defend something which seemed like such an easy decision to me, and on the other I’ve had inspiring conversations with friends and random people on the internet. It’s swings and roundabouts, but honestly, it’s the passionate and inspirational people who swing it for me and make me want to persevere.
Disclaimer: For the record, in no way do I judge anyone who doesn’t shop ethically, this is a personal choice that I am able to subscribe to because of the privileges in my life, and I fully understand that not everyone has the luxury to join me.