As I venture further along my ethical consumption trip, I see that there are traps everywhere. The biggest one I’ve found so far is the ‘spend lots of money and feel good while continuing to screw the environment’ trap. This one involves doing internet searches for products with the word ‘organic’ before them, buying supposedly better versions of what you already own, and throwing out all your non-organic stuff in the process.
Luckily, I didn’t fall in to this one, mostly because I don’t have the spare cash and because I tend to be skeptical of everyone and everything. But it’s seductive and pervasive and I did experience some dopamine spikes when searching all the eco pretties. So many beautiful websites with velvet words like…
So many Instagram accounts with carefully crafted images meant to convey the sweet spot between quality and goodness that invite you to click through and buy your way to a better you.
The Eco trip isn’t much different to the diet industry really – they are selling you a vision of a new you. One that is thoughtful, caring and selective. Because you care. Gold star for you in your $400 Eco leather shoes. Now you just need the $500 Eco silk jacket and you’ll be able to hold your head up high.
The bottom line is you are buying more. And if you are buying more, no matter what you are buying, you are consuming more and your consumption is adding waste to the world.
It’s also a lie.
It takes 2700 litres of water to make one cotton t-shirt
And it takes 2700 litres of water to make one organic cotton t-shirt
That wasn’t a typo. In terms of water usage, they’re the same. Organic obviously has some other benefits, not least of which is that farmers and their families aren’t being poisoned by the toxins sprayed on non-organic cotton. But even so, clearly the better choice, is to not buy either.
Bamboo is also full of lies. One retailer recently admitted that even though they advertised all their bamboo clothes as ‘eco’, they had no idea if the bamboo they were using was bamboo rayon (think chemicals) or closed loop bamboo (think righteous).
I’m not saying don’t buy anything if you actually do need to buy something. I am saying don’t buy stuff just because it’s branded as environmentally and ethically okay. It might be a lie. It might be true. But either way, you are bringing more stuff into your life, and that impacts on people and the environment. Interconnectedness works that way.
You can’t shop yourself to a better you. A better you is the one that doesn’t need any props – organic or otherwise.
When it comes to what you buy – it’s simple –
Do good. Don’t do harm. That’s ethical consumption.