When we think about ethical fashion or slow fashion and cruelty free cosmetics we might be forgiven for thinking they are minor league industries consisting of a few like minded people trying to champion great changes in society. However, is it really about making big changes or can we take relatively small steps to make a difference?
When you think about it, we live in a world with approximately 7 billion people in it and just think what could happen if each and every human took a small step, a leap of faith to change their consumer habits. I love the Chinese Proverb that simply states, “The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Just think if each and every one of us carried away one small stone – what a huge impact that would have on our one, beautiful planet! I have noticed a great collective on social media, full of lovely individuals as well as multi-million pound businesses alike with a real passion to be part of a community that is just left of centre.
You might follow someone on Twitter and notice that they follow you back – what a great feeling! It is that bit of recognition when someone from ‘across the pond’ has similar interests and a true commitment to stand up and make a change. One could even reflect that it is a bit like being part of a secret society, once you’re in, you’re in! You start to have real conversations about what is really important and you are so excited to see there is a true belief that there are real alternatives to fast fashion and products that are tested on animals. The possibilities are endless and yet it feels like we are only scratching on the surface.
I remember the day I decided to switch my cosmetics to cruelty free brands. I scoured the Internet for hours trying to find a high-end brand that I could trust as I said goodbye to my favourite shampoo and conditioner. Never one to turn down a challenge, but I could have hacked into CIA with more ease. It felt like some dark underworld as I was delving deeper into the promise of access to a special list of cruelty free brands but as soon as I got a whiff of success, I was taken to yet another website that talked openly about being against animal testing but didn’t actually give me specifics! Being an animal lover, I refused to back down but it got me thinking – why does it have to be so hard? Surely we want to openly promote brands that care both for the planet and for the humans that live on said planet?
But once I ‘was in’, I was hooked. I started having conversations with friends and colleagues alike, raising the profile of all these brands that have been in existence for years, and yet they aren’t promoting what, for me, is a key selling point. If you have two products that are exactly the same, other than the fact that one is tested on animals and one isn’t, surely the general population would choose the product that is cruelty free? We are a society of animal lovers after all!
And this got me thinking about the clothes I wore and I started to question how they were made and who made them. I was halfway down the rabbit hole at this point anyway, so why turn back? Knowing that I was well on my way to becoming said hacker, I took up the mantel willingly and started looking not only at high street brands, but whether there were alternative designers that made clothes that are fashionable (I’ve never been one for rainbow chunky knits –sorry), and ethical at the same time.
It has been quite a journey so far, and I have discovered lots of different criteria for ethically conscious clothing as well as forums, blogs, independent businesses as well as some major players to add to the collective group that I now gladly find myself in. However, the question that I find myself asking over and over is why is it so difficult to make the change, to move that one stone?
The hidden lists of ethical brands should be readily available to the masses, to those 7 billion humans. Shouldn’t we welcome with open arms new consumers who are making those tentative first steps to becoming more humane and compassionate in their decision-making? Are we guilty creating a secret society that shuns, not embraces potential customers because if we truly believe and are passionate about what we do (and believe me, everyone that I have spoken to is passionate about what they are doing) then we should be shouting from the top of that mountain that we are trying to move, instead of acting more like a secret agent that I lovingly refer to as 00 Slow Fashion.
About the Author
Kara and Maria both live in Hampshire, England. At the beginning of the year we both made a commitment to change our individual shopping habits to support both the planet, the people and animals that we share it with. Currently developing Kama, an ethically conscious online market place for all things sustainable and cruelty free. Please head over to @kamacomms to join in with the conversation. Thanks to Trusted Clothes for asking us to guest blog, it's been a new and exciting experience and we hope you enjoy!