Tuesday, June 28, 2011

at what cost?

I have never been known to be fashionable, or have the latest, the greatest, in anything.  I don't want to follow the trend, I like what I like, I know what I like and I wear what I like - it really is that simple for me.  I know, I am special, what can I say.  

First and foremost I love op-shopping, no matter what town we are in, op-shops rule.  I love old stuff, I love stuff that has been loved and looked after so well that it still looks new.  I love that it's not in landfill, I love the price tag and I love that through most of my op-shopping, my purchase is going towards helping a particular charity.

I am trying to be more aware of what I purchase, and where it comes from.  This is fairly easy when it comes to food, thanks to people power, we are now getting items labelled correctly and honestly (some of the time), and for me, I have the power to make  informed choices, because there are people out there that are willing to search the truth, willing to put themselves forward and share their knowledge to inform me, the shopper, on what I am buying and where my money is going when I purchase certain items.  I like that.

So what about my clothes then?  Where are they coming from, who is making them and how do I know my money isn't being used for evil?  

I don't know.  

I really would like to know.

I have seen the odd documentary on sweat-shops over the years and each time I am horrified at the abuse that is wrought on those that slave 'work' there.  Oh and I am guilty, most certainly 100% guilty, because I am a purchaser of clothing.  

I recently read one of my absolute favourite blogs, notions.  Here's the nail, and here's the head, thanks Rosie for putting it out there. 

Then, I was out shopping on the weekend, stores screaming 'sale' from every window, with cheap posters and flashy signs - such a waste of beautiful trees - each store with prices lower than the one next to them.  I did stop, I did look through the racks, I was taken in by the hugely discounted price tags, sheesh, I am a girl after all.  But then I stopped. . . . . . I put the items back on the racks and I walked away.  I don't need these items, not at all, I don't need any of them.

So how does it work?  Is there a little family starving tonight because I didn't purchase those items on the weekend?  Is there a Mum selling her body on the street just so that she can put a mouthful of dry rice into the mouth of her child because she has lost her job at the clothing factory?  Will I ever, in my lifetime, know where my clothing comes from or the fabric that I sew with?  Don't I have a right to know these things, to be in control of where I choose my money to go?  Would I allow my children to become slaves all day and all night?  So why do I so easily accept the fact that another Mothers children are?  Just because I cannot see something happening, does not mean it isn't.

I do say a huge thank you to those that are fashionistas and turn their entire wardrobe over with every season.  Without these people, I would not have the pleasure of op-shopping.  The op-shops would not have the pleasure of making a bit of money to give grocery vouchers to those that need it.  But does that give me the right to feel at ease with myself because I op-shop?  The clothing was still made by the same hands no matter how many times the item has been donated.  I am just keeping it out of landfill, and giving money to a charity.

So where does that leave me now?  Is there a nudie run in this at all?  Then of course if we all go back to birthday suits, what happens to all those mammoth shopping plazas, and job losses.  Don't even go near the gazillion lightbulbs being used, or the electricity that is used to even open the store doors. . . . . . . . . I know, how far does one take it?  I am not even touching the subject of the toy sales.  I am just hoping right now in every major chain store that none of them have a fire over the next 3 weeks.  We will all choke on the fumes of melted plastic. 

Moderation and awareness could well be the key to sorting out this mess.  I am going to start with me.  I am going to start asking more questions, finding out more information.    I do hope to get a hold of this book.  You can read a review about it here.  (Thanks Rosie)

I typed this post out last week, however, I have not felt comfortable in hitting the 'publish' button.  I am not sure why, possibly because I don't know enough on the subject, possibly because I cannot express myself quite so 'artfully' as others.

I had come to the conclusion that I would link the article but not comment on it, until, after a conversation (totally unrelated to this subject, but equally real) with my lovely and very intelligent neighbour, she made a comment to me that although each of us are 'one person', we should not fear wanting more information, we should not fear being able to express our concerns, and we really can make a difference if there is enough of us willing to do so.  Now you have it, I have hit the publish button.  It's out there, my mish-mash, shared with you.

Please read the article, and if you feel as strongly as I do and would like to, please pass it on to others.  Please leave a comment of your own thoughts on this topic whether it be on your blog or in my comments.  If you post and comment on your blog, please let me know, I would love to read your post.  I would so love to hear from you, I would love to learn more if you have more to share.  

Thanks so much for stopping by my place today.  


Penelope said...

Hi Joyce, it's so weird that I have just been reading on one of my favourite blogs called 'A Thrifty Mrs' this exact dilema and she has 3 really good links to other blogs talking aout the same subject which have their own links to other blogs etc etc. Have a read if you like on: http://www.athriftymrs.com/

I feel the same as you in many ways, it's SUCH a dilema and I also shop in chariy shops, make my own clothes and by vintage and very occasionally from a certified ethical company but sometimes it get gets so confusing as to who made the fabric, who sewed the clothes who is ethical / unethical. I think it's about starting little with yourself and spreading the word with friends and debating these issues with possible practical solutions. It's about being aware and thinking before buying for sure and defnitely trying not to be too greedy in our world of plenty.
Great post Joyce, feel the fear and do it anyway... it takes courage but I'm glad you've opened up the subject xox Penelope

Sandi said...

You come from your heart and we hear that. I too find myself thinking along the same lines and it always brings me to the fact that society is quite out of balance, it's not right that we have the poor beyond poor people who get nothing for what they do and then the parasites that feed off that and become rich beyond rich. It brings me to tears at times. I don't know the answer except perhaps bring it to people's awareness and maybe it will bring pressure on society to change and start looking after each other, instead of just looking after number one exclusive of anyone else. Not sure if you get what I mean, bit hard to put into words.
Mind you I have faith that things will change with all the lovely blogs I read, everyone in blog land are pretty much aware. Thank you for posting what you did, as Penelope said it took courage and that we can be grateful for.
x Sandi

'Joyce' said...

Thank you so much for your passion for change. Penelope I am heading to your link now. Thank you so much for sharing the info. I was a little nervous about popping on here after putting my post through. Thank you for your thoughts and for sharing how you shop with me. It's such an important issue, and we really do need to spread the word.

Miss Prudence said...

This is great! As I just said to Rosie - this would of been much greater had I have read it before i went out returning with a BIG bag of clearance goodies...but in my defence i have truly curbed my ways - like you i have begun to see much of this "junk" as landfill. It is the $2 shops that really bother me, I see many people I work with needing a "retail fix", but being on the pension that stock on bits and bobs (crappy little bits of nothing) that are thrown away sooner rather than later. The same shops selling knock off toys - if mattel and hasbro don't make enough landfill , then the knock of spider man enters the landfill usually within the week of purchase because it has fallen to pieces.

Further to this problem - the country's economy, the worlds' in fact - is largely dependant on retail consumerism. This can be evidenced by Mr Rudd's economic stimulus packages a few years back - how many tv's were purchased?
TV's there is another issue! Ugh!
Well this dialogue needs to continue, like I said to Rosie, is needs to occur across blogs, the dinner table, the bus stop, the train platform, the supermarket checkout, the office, the boardroom...it must continue no matter how much of a headache it gives us....

Truly Joyce, I get a bit scared about what we have created in this world, movies like Tank Girl, Mad Max etc are seeming less fiction like in potential!