Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Ethical Life Makeover

Recently I've been contemplating having a bit of an 'ethical life makeover'. As I rule I try to buy things second hand and, as anyone will know from my Twitter feed, I spend an inordinate amount of time in charity shops where most of my clothes, homeware, books and general tat come from. This seems like fairly safe ground to me, everything is otherwise destined for the dreaded landfill and the money goes to charity. It eases my conscience at buying yet another pair of heels anyway!

Completely unnecessary but second hand!
But then I also wonder how much else in my life I could orientate towards giving those who produce and sell what I use a better deal. Simple answers seem to abound (buy nothing but essentials, grow your own, wear dodgy clothes that resemble old sacks...) but not only are they not all that desirable bur I also wonder if they really get to the nub of the issue. If I never buy anything new then what happens to the suppliers who produce those goods and the people working in the shops that sell them? Arguably art is a complete non essential but what if no one ever bought art? The world would be infinitely the poorer.

Perhaps it is a bit simplistic but when I think about these issues I am always brought back to one of my favourite periods in history, Renaissance Florence, that produced some of the world's greatest treasures of art and literature. Without people spending money there would have been no Medici palaces, no 'Birth of Venus', no 'David'. I often have the same debates with myself over travel. Yes, it is a luxury but what about those tiny fishing villages I love to visit in Greece who rely entirely on tourist trade to keep going for the quiet months? Making good choices doesn't seem as black and white as simply, 'Do nothing, Buy nothing'.

But likewise by making purchases we are undoubtedly feeding the system from which they come whether that is a culture of throw away fashion, low wages for workers or environmentally dodgy practices. The thought of wearing clothes that have been made in a factory that pays next to nothing of uses child labour is completely unacceptable and at the very least I would like to be in a position to campaign better about it and shop more wisely when I do buy things new.

All in all it seems horribly complicated and that often leaves me a bit bamboozled as to the best way to spend my money. All I know is that I want to think it out some more so I am able to make more informed choices and to be able to say, to the best of my knowledge, that my lifestyle isn't traipsing all over other people horribly. Is it possible? I don't know but it seems right to try so over the next few weeks and months I'm going to look into the area of fashion, food, travel, beauty and the home to see what I can uncover.
Any tips are very welcome!

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