When thoughts collide….

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog post over the last couple of days, inspired by a newly discovered blog and worried by the tragic events in both Bangladesh and the earlier incident in Pakistan. 

I’m referring, of course, to the building collapse in Bangladesh, killing hundreds of (mostly female) factory workers, labouring in a clearly unsafe building to feed the fashion addiction of the west.  And if you think back about eight months you might also recall a similar incident, this time a fire in a textiles factory in Karachi where over 250 women died being unable to escape through the locked doors.

If I look through my wardrobe and or the girls’ cupboards I will find many labels with Made in Bangladesh, most costing very little and coming from one cheap department store or another.  Even those clothes I or others have bought from smaller manufacturers and at greater expense carry a tag declaring it was made in some less developed part of the world where worker safety and salary are questionable to say the least. The quest for ever cheaper, constantly changing fashion of the major labels seems to have been at the expense of other women.  A feminist issue if I ever heard one.

The other side of this story is the Zero Waste Home, a blog written by Bea.  It’s an unbelievable journey that Bea, her husband and two teenage sons (or tween perhaps, I can’t remember) have embarked on, to live a life of zero waste….. I mean ZERO (she takes her own large plate to the pizza shop when they get take away, she’s used the same single hair tie for over a year, you get the idea).  I’ve taken lots of ideas away from my reading so far, but it was her take on fashion that has got me thinking the most.  Bea has a small wardrobe, everything inter-changable and adaptable (13 ways to wear a LBD anyone?) and everything bought second hand (unless it was purchased before the journey began).  Every 6 months she goes through her wardrobe, takes out the items (that have been well cared for and still in good condition) that she has grown tired of, returns them to the op-shop and replaces them with an equal number of new op-shop items.  More substantial items, like her gorgeous white blazer, she pays to be tailored so they fit well and will make up the permanent fixtures of her collection.  Shoes are taken to the cobbler for repairs to increase their useable life, socks are darned and clothes are patched.  Everything about this approach makes sense to me.

All this contemplation is quite timely for me as I contemplate my own wardrobe.  It’s really not working for me, after two years of weight loss nothing fits quite right (or at all) and I’m especially struggling with finding clothes for the cooler weather.  So instead of going out to buy more new clothes (that, let’s face it, may not fit in another year, the weight will come back eventually I assume) I am going to attempt to revamp some of the items I already have and seek out a few op shop finds to fill the remaining holes.  As for the girls wardrobe, quite a lot of that is out of my control… to be honest I buy very few of their clothes, most are either presents from grandparents or hand-me-downs from friends (the latter fits nicely with this philosophy).  But when I do need to stock up on some basics perhaps I will try to do so in a more ethical way.

I will write again on the Zero Waste theme as I get my head around some of the other concepts.  I’ll also share my fashion finds, successes and probably failures.  In the meantime, I think I might have my blogging hat back on…. we’ll see how long it lasts.

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5 Responses to When thoughts collide….

  1. Liz says:

    I’ve often wondered/worried about the clothing thing. I am a committed Op shopper, but I suspect that is more because I like it and I can buy lots of clothes for very little money. I do consol myself with the whole reuse, recycle side of things but actually I am starting to think that the more sustainable (and I mean sustainable in a broad sense here that includes supporting developing world industries as well as the environment etc) thing to do would be to support organisations which produce clothes ethically (with minimal wages, sustainable fabrics etc etc) and pay more for them and buy less of them. I wonder sometimes if the Op Shop thing is a red herring – in that it potentially encourages consumption on both the donator and the purchasers part – the donator gets to buy more stuff while at the same time thinking they aren’t wasting anything and the purchaser supports that donators continued consumption (and indeed, as in my case, support their own consumption habit). But then again at least the money goes to charity and one can only hope they do something useful with it. Oh and I liked the ‘newly discovered blog’ but the cynic in me definitely raised my eyebrows at the extensive shop…

  2. Barbara Good says:

    To honest Liz it’s been a long time since I op-shopped, mostly because taking the girls into them is a bit of a nightmare and I have no time child-free when the shops are open. I get completely what your saying about adding to the continuing level of consumption by advocating people donate to op shops and replace with more new stuff. I think that’s why I liked the ideas of this blog; firstly she has an incredibly small wardrobe and shows people how with versatile pieces you don’t actually need a lot, secondly is the idea that you use op-shops in a similar way to rental items, just changing over pieces twice a year and thirdly thirdly taking care of items, mending them or getting them fixed to their useable life is extended (Especially for shoes). I was also amazed at how a couple of belts, chunky necklaces, scarves or a hat can change a look. The focus wasn’t at all on the low cost of op-shop clothes, but on the idea that we all need less than we generally have.
    I’ve thought about the ethical buying and supporting well managed (ie decent wage, safe conditions etc) labels from the developing world, but I find that a mine field as well. It seems just as I think I’ve found something the waters muddy and suddenly it doesn’t seem so good. Shopping at places like Oxfam etc seems a good option, but then again is that the ‘west’ imposing itself on others? If you come across a good brand I’d love to know about it. Also if you’re on the ethical shopping guide site, they’ve just added a clothing part so you can at least rule out some labels that are just BAD. I don’t know Liz, it’s all so complex, but living with less in generally does seem to sit well with me.
    PS I had to go have a proper look at the Blog when you mentioned the shop – I’ve been reading it on my phone and don’t see the whole site. Was completely unaware she had a shop, certainly does seem to be counter-intuitive to her lifestyle. I wonder how she sells these items without including packaging and therefore WASTE?

  3. petabreerule says:

    Nice concept. Also like the picture of your house with the “sold” sign – I presume this is good news. Back on Natimuk Rd during the 80s, Wendy had a sewing machine. The decisions she made in relation to that sewing machine and my childhood had little to do with ethically re-using available goods, and everything to do with fostering creativity (although I was convinced she was just being a stepmother), however the end result was the same. All my dolls had all home-made clothes, generally created from whatever offcuts of stuff were lying around. Her clothes were taken in or let out pending weight gain/loss. Handmedowns were taken up, taken in, adjusted, cut and copied or turned into something else. Sadly, I gave away the 40-year-old Husquvarna sewing machine that had turned out so much awesome (and occasionally horrific) stuff. I stole it from mum some time during 1999 and never gave it back. I can’t even remember who I gave it to. I think perhaps a second-hand sewing machine might be on the list for the move to the new house in a couple of weeks. Now that I have a spare room… where potentially I could do things that take up space.

    • Barbara Good says:

      Yes good news on the house selling front – bit trickier on the house buying front. We’re not actually agree on what town to live in, let alone what house!
      I remember the 80s in Nati rd with your mum on the sewing machine in that little sunroom (oh how I’d love a sun room!) whipping up some doll-sized creation.
      I have just got my very first sewing machine and have been whizzing away at it when I find the time (which isn’t often). I have managed to make a few things for the girls which, at 2 and 4, they are happy to wear. I also have a dress I’m going to try and turn into a top for me.
      Have fun in your spare room…. ah so much potential.

  4. Pingback: A question impossible to answer… | The New Good Life

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