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Have you cottoned on yet?

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I don’t know about you but I never really understood why people have always harped on about organic cotton. It’s always just seemed quite wanky and pretentious to me. Nobody eats cotton (well no one I know anyways) so what’s the big deal if the cotton we buy isn’t organic? And to be honest with you, I very rarely go out of my way to buy organic fruits and veg. Does that make me a bad vegetarian?

I so badly want to be one of those beautiful, hipped out humans, with long luxurious hair, who wander the local farmers market filling their hessian bag with organic, seasonal fruits and veg. But alas I am not, so it never really made much sense to ensure my wardrobe was full to the brim of organic, cotton everything.

It’s funny to think that something as lovely and comforting as cotton could have such a dark effect on people’s lives and the environment. Not to sound dramatic, but the wool or should I say cotton, has really been pulled over our eyes on this one.

To give you some background, cotton is grown in over 100 countries with the leading cotton growing contenders being China, USA, India, Pakistan and Brazil and is apparently responsible for a whopping 11% of the total production of pesticides in the world and 24% of the worlds insecticides. (source – The EJE Foundation)

Let’s talk pesticides. Ok, you’ve heard it all before, pesticides are bad. Sure they serve their purpose in allowing for the mass production of crops, but very simply, over exposure to pesticides is not good. They are mostly bad for the underpaid farmers that are exposed to them everyday, their families and the environment in which the cotton is grown. As a crop, conventional cotton requires the largest amount of pesticides out of ANY crops grown non-organically. Many of the chemicals used were originally developed as toxic nerve agents during World War 2. You know, the shit developed to kill people? Terminate? End lives? That’s the shit many conventional cotton farmers and their communities are exposed to everyday to grow cotton for the western world.

You can probably guess the effect that that kind of exposure has on a human being. Over exposure to harmful pesticides causes’ infertility, birth defects, cancer and the list continues. In fact this is evident throughout various farming communities across India where children are born with physical deformities and mental retardation’s.

Pesticides also have a harmful effect on the environment, (surprise, surprise) poisoning water sources, damaging ecosystems and of course killing wildlife. If that isn’t enough, 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have committed suicide over the last 15 years due to the economic hardship caused by massive amounts of debt from buying and maintaining the crops from genetically modified cotton seeds from Monsanto, along with a major lack of governmental support and appropriate compensation from the Indian government.

The original native cotton seeds are apparently no longer obtainable, so with pesticides rising in price, the market price for cotton decreasing, and  uncontrollable weather conditions destroying crops, farmers are forced to give up their farms and are no longer able to pay the extortionate, high interest loans they originally took out to purchase their farms.

So basically what I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t be supporting the unethical practices of non-organic cotton farming, due to the devastating effect it has on the physical and mental health of farmers, their families, future families, communities and of course the environment. Phhew!

So if your next clothing purchase isn’t going to be second-hand, you should seriously consider buying organic cotton that is GOTS certified (Global Organic Textile Standard)

Check out my favorite ethical Australian and NZ brands for buying organic cotton –

Kowtow Clothing –

 

Carlie Ballard –

Carlieballard

Alas the Label –

 

 

 

 

 

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Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.

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There is something really powerful about a killer outfit. A killer outfit will set you up for a good day, and a day from hell can be better managed when your outfit is on point.

That’s probably vain, and perhaps I need to dig a little deeper to access a more sustainable source of self-worth, but in a world where creativity and independent thinking is oppressed, the clothing you wear on your body is the ultimate form of self-expression.

I buy the vast majority of my clothes secondhand, that much is obvious. In fact I have a hard time not buying my clothes second hand due to the genuine guilt I feel if I don’t (Bar bra’s and undies thanks!)

But it can be really hard to NOT shop at fast fashion giants, with the usual suspects of course being H & M and Zara.

I am not alone in saying that when I enter an H & M (which is very rare these days), my brain enters meltdown mode. Maybe it’s the white blinding lights and the carefully placed fedoras, but everything within me is convinced that I need that paisley print jumpsuit on the size 6 mannequin, and I need it now.

One major difference between slow fashion and fast fashion is convenience. We are slaves to convenience and H & M couldn’t make it any easier. All your favourite outfits are mass produced and handed to you on a silver platter for neat a $19.95, and that my friend, is Saturday park hangs sorted, right there.

My recent and exhausting trip to H & M really cemented my desire to ‘shop with purpose’ We can’t buy everything second hand, but shopping with purpose is a very realistic way of life and your wardrobe will thank you for it!

This is what shopping with purpose means to me –

  • Buying good quality – You get what you pay for.

Spend generously on high quality staple items that you know will last more than one season. Items that you’re not just going to fleetingly throw away once the next fast fashion trend emerges. If you ever needed an excuse to spend more money here it is, in the long run you’ll end up with less shitty throwaway clothes, more money in your pocket and good quality clothing that you can be proud of.

  • Do your research – Know what your money is supporting.

Author Anna Lappe hits the nail on the head, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” If you are going to make the decision to spend generously on your clothes, or even if you aren’t, at least know what your money is supporting. Do your research, only shop with brands that are transparent about where their clothes come from.

Ask yourself these questions –

  • Does the brand pay a living wage to those who make their clothes?
  • Does the brand allow for humane and safe working conditions for their workers?
  • Does the brand support organic cotton farmers?
  • Is the brand environmentally conscious? i.e. How do they deal with chemical waste?
  • Does the brand use animal products, and if so, is it sourced ethically?

Ultimately, we all just need to stop buying shitty ass clothes and shop with purpose because there is no truer statement than Anna Lappe’s. The money you spend is your vote. Cast it into something you are proud to get behind. Demand change, demand transparency.