Listen to your Mother when she says you have enough clothes & easy steps to be a responsible consumer

how to be a responsible consumer

I often undertake what I call a ‘wardrobe organisational exercise’ every 2 months (read half-yearly) to make the interiors of my cupboard neat and orderly. This almost always results in three things:

a. my room looks like it’s been hit by a tornado,

b. I get a mini panic attack when I realise the new jeans I assumed would be hidden under a pile are still missing, and

c. I discover an item from 5 years ago that I thought I’d wear when I find an appropriate occasion/ item to go with.

The last situation is particularly important as well as detrimental. The daydreamer I am, I would leave the current task to dream up of occasions where the particular embroidered coat in my hand would be appropriate to wear (fellow mind-stylists, raise your hand). When will Halloween become mainstream here? Because I have a Mary Poppins-themed party to throw.

  • Clothes look best when worn

Halloween or no Halloween, you can make clothes work with a little creativity and a lot of YouTube styling videos. Sustainability in Style, combines my two loves: fashion and our planet, with innovative courses. Don’t be afraid of those jazzy trousers, they might just garner compliments from colleagues. At the very least you can always dress it down with your boring black sweater. Jokes apart, I believe there is a maximalist inside all of us who can find an occasion to wear that particular ‘difficult’ item. Remind yourself why you bought it in the first place. If you’ve outgrown it, upcycle or donate! Takeaway: If it’s in regular usage, it’s not waste.

  • Ask questions

Do I really need it? What is the long-term use of this product? Is there an alternative? Does it harm the environment? It’s important to atleast start a dialogue by engaging in questions. There’s a wonderful app (of which I’m hoping an Indian version comes out soon) called Good On You. With the aim of helping people make better purchase decisions, the app rates brands basis the transparency of information they share with their customers. Takeaway: Read the fine print, and there’s no harm in asking a brand to disclose their supply chain details.

  • Don’t leave the tap on while brushing

Concern for the planet is holistic: apart from making informed decisions about your wardrobe, be mindful about the small actions of your daily routine. Eat local as much as you can, save water, grow your own herbs and switch off the lights when not in use. Fact: A best-out-of-waste Diwali lantern competition at my office revealed that the maximum waste generated at work was not factory waste, (I work at a jewelry manufacturing company) but used paper cups. This resulted in the company gifting each employee their own ceramic mug to drink from! Takeaway: Sustainability begins at home, there’s a world of a difference an individual can make.

  • Make it fun and creative for your tribe

Scroll Instagram and you’ll find so much good work being done and you’ll come back inspired. Why don’t you return the favour? Next festive season, make a gift list that helps your loved ones reduce waste! A low carbon impact birthday party? Why not? Or bring out your Breaking Bad skills and cook up a lip balm recipe for you and your friends. Head on to Em Ehlers Instagram profile @ecowithem_ for some killer inspo. A Bsc. in Sustainability, she knows her stuff. Takeaway: leading by example not only makes being eco-friendly easy on others, but drives the point without being preachy.

  • Support Small

Next time you go shopping, research fair trade organisations, local artisans and NGOs. Try to ensure that the proceeds go back to supporting the livelihood of whoever wove, embroidered, knitted or sewed your product. Chances are you won’t be skimping on quality or price, and the slight markup would be the handmade cost. In the long run it all adds to its longevity and exclusiveness. Your local Hunar Haat is a good place to begin. Here’s a wonderful intensive guide to India’s farmers markets. Takeaway: You know your money is going to the right place if atleast a part of it is directly returned to the artisan or manufacturer.

  • Don’t be quick to judge

Everyone has been the cause or victim of ‘eco-judgement’ now and then. If you don’t want the zero-waste police to crack down on you, make sure you don’t sound like one either. It’s more likely to ‘convert’ people tactfully through example than by laying on a guilt-tripping tone. Watch how Lindsay Miles does it. Change is tough on anyone, and it’s not like there’s a Bible out there for the eco-friendly (yet). However, be sure to stand by your choices and opinions and be vocal about what works for you! Takeaway: Build a network of people interested in similar stuff, that way you can inspire and stay inspired.

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