The True Cost Challenge- Hurdle 1

Bugger.

My ‘True Cost’ challenge this month has really been about thinking more about where my clothes come from and the ‘true cost’ for humanity and for the environment of the choices that I was making.

Honestly I’m being doing really well.

I’m not going to lie and say that in the last 9 days I haven’t purchased anything. But I have done a lot of thinking about it first, rather than the impulse buy.

On Friday I hit my first really challenge, hurdle one. I went to see Green Day at Rod Laver Arena, here in Melbourne.

You guys don’t really know me much but one thing that I love almost as much as my dogs is Green Day.

So off I went with my brother and his wife to Green Day and the first thing I was faced with was the merchandise tent.

A few things came to mind.

  1. Bands make money from touring and merchandise, not record sales (hello justification for purchase!)
  2. You said you weren’t buying unnecessary stuff, do you really need this? Where did it come from?
  3. If you don’t buy something you like now, you won’t ever have another opportunity.

So I didn’t buy anything. I looked from a far and felt happy about my decision.

Until I woke up the next morning, after having one of the best nights ever, without my souvenir purchase.

So the following night (Green Day were playing two sold out shows), I went all the way back into town (1 hr drive + 1 hr walk) to buy my canvas Green Day tour bag. Satisfied and I kinda feel like I earned it and it wasn’t an impulse purchase.

Enter hurdle two.

Late last month, I purchased a dress which I was going to wear as a wedding dress. It cost me about $450 AU, which is a lot for a normal dress and not much at all for a wedding dress. I bought it having tried on a different size in the store and ordering in the right colour.

The rookie error, I hadn’t tried on the colour I liked in the size I needed. So I went back today when it had arrived in store only to find that it wasn’t really the wedding dress that I had in mind and that I couldn’t get a refund.

Knowing I would never wear a white dress for any other reason, I exchanged it for a grey one. It’s perfect for the next wedding I am going to but retrospectively I should have thought more about the purchase and just got it ordered in and not actually paid for it until I tried it on. The last wedding I went to I wore a dress that cost $35 from a discount outlet, now I’ll be rocking a $450 beauty. Safe to say I’ll be making sure I get my moneys worth on this one.

Think a little,

Mel

 

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The True Cost- Wardrobe Audit Part 1

Challenge: The True Cost

I’ve seen it now.

I can’t ignore it.

So what can I do about it?

I don’t subscribe to the theory that one person can’t make a difference. Commercial companies whether that be milk producers, juice bars or clothing brands are there to make money. So I vote with my dollar.

After watching ‘The True Cost” one of the first thoughts I had was “well this doesn’t apply to me, I don’t buy from those stores”.

But that’s a cop out.  I might not buy from H&M or own a shit load of clothing in general, but I have enough active wear to wear a different item every day for at least two weeks.

I also wear undies and socks.

I wear a uniform to work that is provided by my employer.

So what about everything else?

My initial plan was to do a full wardrobe audit but then I realized just how much stuff I actually have.

So I started with the active wear, actually just the short sleeved t-shirts and tanks in the active wear section.

Disclaimer: This also does not include the dirty laundry basket!

Here’s what I found out:

From 20 items

1x Made In Indonesia

1x Made in Vietnam

2x Made in Malaysia

6x Made in Thailand

1x Made in Bangladesh

9x Made in China

 

Not a single item Made in Australia.

75% of the ‘Made in China’ t-shirts were the “free” shirts that come with a marathon race entry. (Yes I still have them and yes I still wear them, waste not want not!)

100% were a polyester or polyester blended material.

 

My head started spinning.

 

Questions like “can I buy Made in Australia active wear?”, “Does ‘Made in China’ automatically equal bad factories, bad environmental policies?” and “Is polyester bad?” rumbled through my overwhelmed brain.

My solution, google, knowing full well that big companies lie and that you can literally find anything on the internet to support an argument.

Here’s just some of what I found out.

 

Polyester is a petroleum based material which is generally speak absolutely terrible for the environment. (Read all about it here)

But it’s not completely a lost cause. There are some pro’s and con’s.

  • It’s made from petroleum- NAY
  • It uses less water to produce than natural fibres- YAY
  • It can’t be dyed using natural or low impact dyes- NAY
  • It is recyclable!- YAY

 

So what can we do to make choices, well we can look around for recycled polyester active wear, we can purchase second hand when we can and we can research the companies we are giving our dollars to to establish how accountable and transparent they are being to their consumers about the factories they use.

Patagonia is the company that really sticks out when you research ethicially conscious active wear companies. They are transparent when it comes to the different  fibres they use and what is organic, what is recycled etc.

Granted you are going to pay a little bit more but I think it’s worth it to know where your garments come from.

Locally, I was stoked to find a couple of active wear companies that are pushing the limits and breaking barriers in the conscious active wear sphere.

Kusaga Athletic, based in Sydney, have created the World’s Greenest T-shirt, a t-shirt they claim uses the least amount of water of any other garment.

Vegan Athletic are a Melbourne based company who are making sustainable cycling gear.

I haven’t tried either of their products yet, but it’s super exciting that there are options out there if you are willing to look for them.

Looking forward to trying them out when I need new gear and really thinking about if I actually NEED it or just WANT it and the past and future life of that garment.

Think a little

Mel

 

May Challenge: ‘The True Cost’

#1- ‘The True Cost’

Day 1, Month 1, Challenge 1

Documentary: The True Cost

 

Admittedly, when I declared I was going to do this challenge and try to find a take-away nugget to improve my life from the hours of mindlessly consumed Netflix content I was devouring, it seemed like a win win.

My life will get better and I’ll still get to watch Netflix, Win Win, right?

Fast forward two weeks (I could write a novel about what I think about the ’13 Reasons Why’ and ‘GirlBoss’ that I’ve watched in those two weeks!) and I’ve opened Netflix and am browsing the documentary section.

Browsing, browsing, so many docos. I didn’t remember there being so many.

Let’s start small I say to myself, let’s not start with something too drastic, like changing your diet, throwing out all your stuff, or quitting your job to volunteer in Africa or to save the coral reef. Small.

Thing is, there is no small. Who spends millions of dollars and hours on a “small” issue! You idiot.

So I just picked one I hadn’t watched before, ‘The True Cost’.

‘The True Cost” is a documentary that focuses on the idea of fast fashion and how the fashion industry has evolved, how garments are made and the social and political impacts of the fast moving fashion industry. It touches on sweat shops, the environmental impacts of the fabrics and the production of the fabrics, to GMO’s and the people who are trying to change the money making machine.

Like director Andrew Morgan, I had never really thought twice about the clothes that I buy. With the exception of running clothes (chafe is no ones friend), my general clothing philosophy has always been the blacker and the cheaper the better. Hello teenage emo. It’s true, my “taste” in fashion hasn’t changed much since highschool. T-shirts, skinny jeans and Converse sneakers are pretty much the staples with a few random and not at all co-ordinated jewellery items scattered about.

I wear a Garmin running watch with bands that don’t match, my earrings often aren’t the same in each ear and there is a high probability that I will have yesterdays coffee on my shirt.

Don’t get me wrong, I could rock the latest ‘Fitspo’ outfit like the next Insta girl if I wanted to. My workout clothes, which I get substantial wear out of, comprise more than half of my wardrobe. But hey, unless I’m on a plane or have a marathon that week, I’m not wearing compression tights to the café or the shops. (I truly believe you get a free pass to wear compression the week before a marathon, every little bit helps folks!)

I’m the first to admit that I judge women who love fashion. Not the unique ‘I have my own style that I’m rockin’ women but the ones who buy the magazines and care about what the current style is. I judge the ones I’m sure are judging me for lack of fashion style.

So, what were my first thoughts as I watched ‘The True Cost’?

  1. Thank god I don’t buy a shit load of that fast fashion
  2. Where does the clothes I do buy come from?
  3. What are the options?
  4. What changes can I make in my own life to make this better for other people, for the environment and how will these changes effect my hip pocket and clothing needs (like no chafe!)?

This month’s goal: re-evaluate the things you buy, where you buy them from and what is the impact of purchasing that item.

This is not a ‘don’t buy anything’ for the month type of challenge.

It’s a ‘be a better global citizen’ challenge. Get educated and vote with your dollar, always.

Stay tuned, this might get interesting.Not only am I an avid consumer of sports wear but I’m also planning a wedding.

The plan:

  1. Wardrobe audit. What are you buying?
  2. Research and evaluation. What could you be buying? What are the options?
  3. Moving forward, what have I learned?

Think a little,

Mel