I never thought of myself as someone who cared too much about the environment before becoming a parent. I mean I knew that we should be protecting the planet, that things that humans are doing are seriously damaging the land we live on and the air we breathe but if I’m completely real; it was all like white noise to me. I occasionally recycled, I sometimes used a reusable cup for my coffee or my water and I once gave up meat for 18 months (although that was more for personal health benefits but I know it helped the earth too). So I guess what I’m trying to say is that although I was conscious of things I was doing wrong, I just wasn’t motivated enough to make a solid effort to change things. If I couldn’t see it then I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal.
One thing I always did do though was recycle my clothes. More for a monetary benefit than the environment but the two helped eachother so you know, win win. I’ve eBayed clothing, sold at car boot sales, donated to charity shops and shipped the stuff that I just couldn’t get rid off to one of those Cash For Clothes outlets. In my mind, once the items weren’t in my possession – they were no longer my problem. I’d recycled, if the next owner chose to throw them away only to end up in landfill then so be it. What could I do about that? Exactly nothing. I genuinely couldn’t make any further change once I’d passed the item on. Now being a parent I feel bad. I feel bad that the clothes could be going to someone that might not pass them on in the same responsible way. I’d become someone who actively tried to contribute to the state of the planet now. I cared. And I expected others to care too. I mean come on, look at this new human that was in the world; he couldn’t be expected to grow up and not know what a cold Winter was because of global warming or be unable to see certain types of fish because our generations and those before had abused the convenience of plastic and destroyed the ocean. Some changes had to be implemented in our household, we were tiny cogs in the cycle but any change is good no? So I started reading packets more to find out what parts of it were recyclable and which weren’t (shout out Aldi, your packets seems to give the most clear information that I’ve come across). I started peeling the label off of a plastic bottle before putting it into the plastics bin. I’ve chopped veg that seemed to be a little worse for wear and frozen it instead of throwing it into the little green caddy that sits on our kitchen sideboard. I still didn’t know what else I could do about our clothes though. As a family we are fashion lovers, I’m not gonna lie. We are consumers, we like to grab a bargain on a must have item, we have more clothes than we actually need but never as many as we would actually like. Of course when push comes to shove we don’t have anything to wear for that party/work event/dinner and just need to buy something new. Our son has more clothes than he can wear and I often sell things on that still have tags on them. But even though this behaviour is problematic, it’s only hurting our finances or so I thought…
Last week I caught Stacey Dooley’s latest documentary on BBC Iplayer (Fashion’s Dirty Secrets) and my eyes were opened in a way that was unimaginable. I knew that the fashion industry wasn’t the most ethical, we’ve all heard about sweat shops and low paid workers in developing countries but I had no idea about the environmental impact that was being made to our planet all to fulfil the fast fashion wants and desires by us, the consumers. The documentary showed a major river in Indonesia being polluted with various chemicals multiple times a day, a river that millions of local people rely on for water to bathe/drink/wash with. The pollution is so bad that no living creatures can survive in the water as the oxygen level is just too low. Surprisingly to me, it isn’t illegal to dump the chemical waste in this way! Another mind-blowing fact that came out of the documentary was that cotton, the fibre that we are led to believe is pure and natural, is actually one of the most damaging crops grown. Due to the volume of cotton that needs to be grown in order for our fashion to produced at the speed required, it’s estimated that around 15,000 litres of water is used all in all just for ONE pair of jeans to be made. Yes, you read right, one pair of jeans. Considering how many pairs of jeans I have in my wardrobe yet how many people globally need water desperately, to say I felt a little guilty is an understatement. There are so many more mind boggling facts in this documentary, you really should give it a watch!
Anyway, so I felt pretty guilty after watching it and I kept thinking about what I could do to help our planet more. I want our children, their children and then their children’s children to enjoy this planet, I want it to be more beautiful for them than it ever was for us. I want it to be more green and lush, for there to be even more beautiful blue vast oceans and for all living things to flourish in it. Sounds dreamy I know. So I decided to continue as I have been doing so with selling or donating our clothes (also did you know that at H&M you can donate a bag of clothes and receive a £5 voucher back? See no reason to throw them away at all). I’ve decided to commit to being 100% serious about recycling in our house and checking the labels of everything to ensure it ends up in the right bin.
To round off, will I stop buying clothes? No, probably not. What I will do is think more carefully about what I do buy and how much wear I’ll get out of it/how versatile it is as an item is. I will buy more considerately and I will go to my wardrobe and have a good rummage before heading over to Asos to buy something new!
How do you contribute to protecting our planet? Do you have any tips for small changes we could make too?
Peace and Love,
P.S – remember; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle