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Sustainable Shopping - What it is and Why we need to adopt it?

Updated: Jul 31, 2021



 

Let’s take a moment off our screen and look around the room. Can you count how many items are made from plastic or are non-biodegradable?


Most of the items you see around you will mostly end up in landfills without ever being recycled. If you are able to think of ways to reuse those things or find suitable sustainable substitutes for those things that can't be reused, then pat yourself on the back as you have just taken the first step down this journey.


If you couldn’t bother thinking of any alternative and find yourself asking “Why do I need to think of an alternative?”. The answer is pretty simple actually. It's because such unsustainable practices lead to global warming, which causes an ecological imbalance - animals dying, a disturbed food-chain, rising sea levels and pandemics.


I’m sure you already know what I am talking about.


But let me remind you that in the recent past, the scientific community has painted a much grimmer picture of the risks posed by human activity to the environment. We could prevent all of this by making small changes in our everyday lives. However, in this blog, we will talk about only one aspect of humankind’s existence that is vital to reducing our impact and that is shopping.


Now, most of us do not really care about the raw materials that are used in our products, or where our products are sourced from, but here's why we should care.


Our ignorance of the materials used, often causes us to over-consume (collectively speaking) harmful, synthetic and non-biodegradable materials such as plastic, glass and batteries. If not disposed of properly, this waste can cause pollution, disrupt food chains and harm the ecosystem. There are several aspects of our life where we can be more sustainable in our approach to shopping and through this article we explore 3 crucial components of shopping in detail: Fashion, Stationery and Food habits


Fashion

What we wear is often a testament to the times and one’s own preferences.

In this day and age, the need to be in vogue has been further aggravated by the rise of fast fashion, which can be attributed (i) to the dynamic and growing nature of technology and (ii) the existence of those enterprises that acts in their own self-interest to maximize their profits without considering their impact onto the environment.


I’m sure you have observed this yourself. Take, for instance, your own instagram profile. You have probably noticed how the trends are constantly changing and with it, the content that you post. Similarly, the influence of social media have become pivotal in influencing a larger section of society, changing consumer consumptions through the use of influencers, marketing campaigns, advertisements etc. This is exactly one of the things that we need to be careful about. We need to be more mindful of the choices that we make wherein we should actively look for what exactly constitutes the products that we buy and whether the conditions under which it was manufactured is fair.


To make things worse, when it comes to clothing, this innate urge to ‘keep up with the times’ is complemented by one’s desire for high class fashion. And for the average Joe, fast fashion brands come to the rescue with cheap knockoffs of the more pricey original. I’m sure you already know this storyline about the fast fashion industry from one of our older articles.


But the fact of the matter is that fast fashion is killing the planet. In fact, the fashion industry, which contributes somewhere around 4% - 8% of the global carbon emissions is right up there with the likes of the oil industry which accounts for 3.8% of global carbon emissions. Unbelievable right!?!?.


To solve this crisis, we need to work with the core problems. We need to start by consuming only what we need and not over consume, because everything we want is available at the press of a button. In other words, if you are able to control the ‘Emacity’, the uncontrollable desire to shop, then you’ve taken the second step towards a sustainable lifestyle. However, the buck does not stop here (it ain’t that easy lol).


The longer a garment is used, the lesser the adverse impact on the environment


With the fast fashion trend, garments tend to be used half as much as compared to 15 years ago. This is primarily due to competitive practices that have led to inferior quality of fabrics used and churning more and more collections every month. Typically, a garment used frequently over years has less impact than a garment used a few times to then be quickly discarded.


This brings us to something called slow fashion which is essentially an alternative to fast fashion as it emphasises the ecological & ethical qualities and the time-aspect of the clothing rather than the convenience factor (e.g. how cheap it is) and alleged quality of the fabric. It respects human living conditions, the biological aspects, and the scarce global resources, ultimately contributing towards products that serve to cater to the human-ecosystem equilibrium that we talked about earlier.


Slow fashion believes in manufacturing durable products, by using traditional, labour intensive production methods and also making use of product concepts that last longer both in terms of the aesthetic and material sense. Slow fashion also ensures that the clothes are designed and manufactured in a way that factors in the working conditions of their employees even in the primary level, and also their impact on society and the environment. In my personal opinion, factors other than the materials used itself should be factored in when judging the quality of a product. It should be holistic and should encompass the impact on all stakeholders to its manufacturing. Environmentally speaking, it essentially means that less industrial waste is produced so that we can reduce the pollution that is produced and sustain use of resources for a longer period of time. This is exactly what we did when we came up with our collection ‘Rouge’. We used artisans from a cottage industry within India for the embroidery on our t-shirts and also made our manufacturers adopt fair trade practices (which is also certified). Needless to say, the cotton used in our t-shirts (as in all of our t-shirts) are made using sustainably sourced and grown cotton (i.e. Non-GMO) which GOTS certified. If all of this sounds too good to be true, then have a look at our products in our very own Emacity shop.







An interesting technique to become part of the slow fashion movement is to adopt what is known as a ‘capsule wardrobe’ which by its own wording implies how one can have a wardrobe that is not time-sensitive. It may not necessarily mean to buy bland or dull clothing, but to own a condensed v