Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Conscious consumption

I loved watching this clip of a 3 year old Brazilian boy who doesn't want to eat his (fish) dinner. It's funny the way that children can see so much clearer than adults. I became a vegetarian at 13 years old, 27 years ago. Not eating meat is as much a part of me as my hair or fingernails. Sometimes I don't even know what to say when asked why I'm vegetarian. I explain that in my early teens I was very much into environmentalism (and still am but to a lesser degree, my mother mind is on other things). As well as not wanting to eat animals, I was a young member of Greenpeace and hugely into recycling long before the UK government promoted the idea or provided containers. I remember filling my parent's kitchen with cardboard boxes, much to my mum's pleasure. At this age, I was also into fashion and music but my biggest role model was the late Anita Roddick who founded The Body Shop. I can't remember how I came across her book but it was like a bible to me.  Looking back, I'm quite proud that at such a young age I was concerned with such deeper issues than the kids today whose lives are dominated by celebrity news, reality tv and multimedia.

I've always admired pioneering women in the beauty industry who are fighting for environmental causes. I've been following the work of Liz Earle for over two decades and I greatly admire Livia Firth. Eco-consciousness has and is an everyday part of my life and The True Cost film leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

For the last few years I've always checked clothes labels and toy boxes to see where things were made. I am very far from being perfect on this point, I like a bargain as much as anyone. But I am big on second-hand clothing, for the children and myself. The lower costs of used clothing allows me to dress them in the eco-conscious labels I like. I also beg family and friends who knit for us and wait for the sales to invest in a few pieces which were ethically made. My children know I get a rash when close to things "made in China" and we've had the odd conversation about the provenance of toys. 

In a time of fast fashion and over consumption, if everyone shopped more mindfully then it would be a step forward. As Alyson Walsh says, "Don't buy shit clothes."

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