The first month of my ‘buy nothing that isn’t ethically made in 2017’ project is over and it’s been 99% successful. The 1% is the crappy plastic glow stick that I auto bought on entry to a theme park place that my kid chose to go to on his first official day of unschooling. Being autistic, I always stumble when a sales person says something I don’t expect them to say. I was prepared for buying the tickets, receiving some information….but not for ‘here you need to buy this for $2 to use inside’. Um, ok. Thanks.
Wait. What just happened?
Clearly I will need to be more prepared for these types of moments in future.
Apart from this auto purchase, I didn’t bring anything else into the house that is made off the backs of people being treated unfairly. I didn’t bring anything much into the house at all really, apart from food.
That’s a spill over of this project I think. You start thinking more broadly about consumption and the idea of being responsible for the creation of more new products isn’t tasty at all anymore.
I’ve been mainlining podcasts as usual. Episode 33 of Conscious Chatter featured Christina Dean, founder and CEO of Hong Kong based NGO Redress. She mentioned that around 11 000 garments are dumped into landfill every hour in Hong Kong. That’s one country. And one hour.
So the idea of adding to that is just not appealing at all.
I also stopped using take away coffee cups and dragged out the reusable coffee cup I already had but rarely bothered to take with me. Given that each take away coffee cup can take up to 50 years to break down in landfill, I’m glad I’m finally making the effort. And I can’t buy cotton that isn’t organic because just no to all those pesticides and the impact they have on cotton farmers. So that’s a few other products out.
I did buy a set of reusable bamboo cutlery to throw in my bag for those rare times I eat out for lunch. It was pretty easy to look up its eco credentials online as I stood in the shop with it in my hands. You have to watch bamboo as it’s not always good for the environment. It depends on how its grown and processed. This stuff passed the test though, so it now comes with me and my reusable coffee cup.
I thought toys might be a challenge as my 5 year old has a bit of an addiction to small trinket toys. His dad did have a conversation with him in front of the Hot Wheels cars display at the supermarket about the people who make them and how they aren’t paid the right amount of money and it’s not fair. I wondered how this would go down but the kid has an inbuilt sense of fairness, so he accepted it. Nerf guns will be a whole other conversation though.
On reflection, the process of switching over to only buying ethically made products reminds me of when I went vegan. It’s a bit research intensive at the start – you need to look stuff up and think in advance before buying. I found I relied on two apps to help me make the right choices and I’m so grateful that these exist.
I think it will get easier over time as I build my knowledge of what stores I can shop in and what brands are ok. In the meantime, I’m sticking with the work of learning to do better.
Onwards to February.