5 Tips for a More Ethical Summer
A confession: my mind has been enveloped by a bit of a dark cloud, lately. It's a shape-shifting phantom, sometimes assuming the form of a brand identity crisis, worry over finances, disappointment in my productivity, insecurity as I watch my follower count endure a season of decline. I realize that these are merely anxieties, illusions. Fears of privilege-- privileged that these are the only things that worry me. But you know them as intimately as I do; those individual whispers that are usually manageable, but at times seem to simultaneously mesh together to form a dramatic chorus ringing in our ears until we're paralyzed under the weight of it.
And yet, there are partners to pour out our hearts to, to hold our hands as we weep, the chorus too loud to stay tucked away in our heads until it comes spilling out. This, a few nights ago in our house. Now I can breathe a little easier.
The cloud always passes, I know it does. We've already had a taste of an early summer here, a remedy for the rain.
You see, no matter my mood, the corners of my mouth will always ascend at the sight of a sunlight-dappled porch, the intoxicating fragrance of May flowers, flashes of the lemon-hued bodies of warblers. Soaring temperatures and idyllic blue skies have been the daily trend, little ones giggling and dipping their toes into the stream to cool off. The upstairs windows are always open.
The sun seems to break through the cloud here and there, dissolving patches of its thick vapor. And so I drive with the windows down and blast the 60s hit "Black is Black" on the car speakers, sunglasses perched a little farther down than usual. I sip ice cold bubble tea, read a novel in full view of the glaring noon sun. Spontaneously decide to eat dinner downtown, along the edge of the Bow river. It's enough to make my heart optimistic at least, if my mind will not bend yet.
So here's to the hot, smile-inducing weather. And of course, the exchanging of trench coats and sweaters for short-sleeves and breezy silhouettes. Lighter colours and tote bags.
--------> But how to maintain an ethical, sustainable mindset under the heat of the shifting sun? Where to shop for slow summer basics without losing your cool? Keep reading, my friend. And smile, just for me.
5 Tips for a More Ethical Summer
1. Start searching consignment and thrift stores now instead of leaving it to the last minute. Buying secondhand garments is, perhaps surprisingly to some, the most ethical and eco-friendly way to shop -- but it takes time. And this time of year, secondhand shops tend to be full of recently donated summer items. Start looking for pieces soon, so you'll be ready for summer. Bonus tip: Shirts and dresses tend to be easier items to find secondhand, so make it your goal to find some nice preloved ones instead of buying new. $5 tee shirts shouldn't be the norm when buying brand new items (seamstresses are clearly being exploited in this case), but such a great price is certainly possible when buying secondhand! Thrift stores are chock full of great short-sleeve knits and tees, and consignment boutiques are often overflowing with flowy summer dresses this time of year. I just found the most beautiful wrap dress from an Urban Outfitters brand at my local consignment boutique for around $30, but many can be found for even lower prices. If you have a great find, post a pic with the hashtag #prelovedforally!
2. Save your new, ethical purchases for bottoms and swimwear if you're pressed for time. That's not to say that you shouldn't try looking for a preloved pair first! However, it tends to be more difficult to find secondhand bottoms and swimwear pieces that flatter and fit just right. I'm working on a couple blog posts with some great ethical options, so keep your eyes out!
3. Vintage shops are a great place to find summer shoes, bags, and other accessories like dainty neck scarves and belts. Two of my very favourite wardrobe pieces at the moment (a pair of woven leather mules and a basket purse) are vintage, and they were only $30 each. That being said, not everyone likes buying these items secondhand, so stay tuned for some ethical, hand-made options coming soon.
4. Love what you already have. Unless you live in a part of the world where warm temperatures hang around all year, summer tends to come and go before you know it -- especially in Canada. What can you make do with for this summer season? What do you actually need? Last year, I think the only summer item I bought was a single pair of shorts (because I didn't own any), and the rest of my wardrobe worked just fine to last me through the short summer season. Sure, I would have loved a total closet refresh. But before I knew it, it was autumn, and already time to put away the short sleeves until the next year. So take good care of the lovely summer items you already own, and see how effortlessly they carry you through the warm weather; a crucial part of adopting a more sustainable wardrobe is keeping and taking care of your current garments as long as possible, and being content with less. Buying a couple secondhand or vintage accessories is a fun way to update your wardrobe without needing to buy entirely new outfits.
5. Remember that there is no such thing as a summer 'essential.' I don't mean that you don't need a t-shirt, because those certainly make the hot weather more bearable. But despite what magazines and influencers and blogs will tell you, what you don't need is the latest trend in summer dresses or a top in the freshest colour of 2018. These are not essentials. You'll find that style is not limited to wearing what's 'in' at the moment. The unbelievable speed at which hundreds of trends are created and dissolved is only fuelling the devastating waste and exploitation in the fashion industry. Of course, few of us want to look like we're completely out of touch -- I'm not saying that we shouldn't update our wardrobes from time to time. But take French fashion, for example. Many of us covet that ubiquitous "effortless chic" look of Parisians, but perhaps we haven't noticed that their classic, understated style actually comes from not following trends and wearing a mix of new and vintage, high and low pieces. Modern style doesn't require buying into trends that will disappear in a year, or a month. If you're like me and do enjoy exploring the odd trend now and then, see if you can recreate it with secondhand pieces. The mules I'm wearing in these photos are pretty 'in' right now, but instead of buying a similar pair from an ethical retailer for over $200, I found them for $30 at a vintage store. They also happen to be some of the comfiest shoes I own and the most well-made.
Let me know if any of these tips were helpful! Which will you be trying?
Coming soon, my top ethical basics for summer! Stay tuned.