Shopping ethically – is it possible?

Obsessed with shopping in Morocco

 

Morocco woke my shopping desire. I wanted to buy everything. There was leather bags everywhere, Moroccan poufs, beautiful porcelain and elegant lamps. Everything was cheap and of high quality. If it wasn’t because of my limited luggage space, I could have bought everything.

 

But I was shopping anyways. Despite my limited space in my backpack, I was shopping for myself, one thing made of leather after the other. One for myself – some Christmas presents to the family – and another one for myself again. I had to throw some old stuff in my backpack away to make place for the new ones. It felt good, what a bargain! Nevertheless, when we left Morocco, I felt I could have stayed for another week to just stroll around the markets and shop – I was obsessed.

 

Shopping happiness with (a lot of) bad conscience

 

Even though my bargains filled me with euphoria, I had – and have – bad conscience. A hand made computer bag with several compartments and nice details for 200 SEK. If I had bought the bag at home it would have cost at least 2,000 SEK. How is that even reasonable? There are many lines in the production of that bag, have everyone got a salary? How many SEK is that each? If I had bought the bag more expensive at home, where had the remaining money gone? Had the craftsmen been paid more then?

 

Working days with your feet bathed in chemicals

 

We visited a Tannerie when we were in Fez. Inside the medina (the old town) there was a place where they process leather for the manufacture of leather products. The process involves permanently changing the skin’s protein structure, which means it stays better and does not break down. You also paint the skin there. Before the treatment, they degrease and soak the leather in water over a period of 6 hours to 2 days. Before we entered the Tannerie we were warned – it would smell very bad, and people on the street would sell us fresh mint that we should keep under our noses during the visit. The workers stood in large barrels full of chemicals and dyed the skins. They were barefoot, without gloves or mouth protection. Around there were several stores full of finished leather products from floor to ceiling, and tourists were everywhere.

 

The wastewater from these Tanneries is dumped untreated into rivers. As a result, agricultural land is flooded with colored water poisoned with chromium, lead and arsenic. Pollution in the air, water and soil causes a variety of diseases for the people living in the area. Many of the poisonous substances are carcinogenic and cause health problems in the eyes, lungs, liver, kidneys, skin and lymphatic systems. The animals drink and eat from these poisoned fields, and the people then eat the animals. In some places, the fish change gender because of the contamination.

 

River Blue

 

To increase my bad conscience, Christine and I went to Sweden’s premier of River Blue as Houdini hosted, just after I came home from Morocco. The movie is about all of this; how the fashion industry is destroying the environment, that major rivers in the world dies and about people facing serious health problems. It’s hard to see how reality really looks like, but this documentary I think everyone should watch – I really recommend it.

 

“Don’t wash your jeans that often.” – Why?

 

Often when shopping jeans, you are advised not to wash them so often, to last longer. What I’ve also heard is that the advice is to compensate for the huge amount of water needed in the production of jeans. Of course it’s also to avoid the pants losing color for a better look, but also because the toxic chemicals in the paint are released into our drains and then into nature. On Levi’s website it says “It’s best to wash denim as little as possible, not only to prevent shrinking and fading, but to conserve water, which reduces negative impact on the environment.”

 

Why is the responsibility on us consumers to rarely wash instead of making a product that is sustainable and environmentally friendly?

What is the solution to the problem?

 

It is impossible for us consumers to keep track of which brands or products that are better than others. We also can’t do research for each choice we will take. How do we know which brands are working in the right direction?

 

  • B Corps is a certification for stores and brands such as Fair-trade certification is for coffee. With such certification, strict standards for environmental performance and accountability are met. That’s great! It should be more noticeable and more popular.
  • Fashion Heroes is a page that answers where you can buy clothes in an ethnically and environmentally friendly manner. They have collected some of the brands that are heading in the right direction.
  • Environmentally aware fashion bloggers – Today, we are very influenced by bloggers and Instagrammers. Imagine if these big accounts could start collaborating more with brands that need help getting their ideas forward. I would love to follow such accounts that have great pictures, great style and who stands for environmentally conscious choices in the fashion world.
  • There is a laundry bag that you can use when washing. It collects micro plastics from synthetic garments, which had otherwise followed the water to lakes, rivers and seas. Instead, the micro plastics get stuck to the inside of the bag. The bag also provides a more gentle wash so the garment lasts longer.

 

Do you know about any other solutions? Can you recommend any fashion bloggers that cooperate with sustainable brands?

Some brands that work for a good cause.

 

  • Karün World – You may have noticed that Christine and I have started cooperate with Karün who makes sunglasses. This is a cooperation we are very happy and proud of, we love to spread their visions and products! Their idea is to reuse materials that are wasted today, such as fishing nets, fallen trees and old jeans. They take care of these materials and create sunglasses of it. Fishing net is a very durable material so the sunglasses can withstand a lot.
  • Houdini – the friends of Houdini protects the environment in many ways. They have a new thinking and want to use long-lasting materials that can be reused to new productions many times.
  • Tentree – produces eco-friendly clothes and for everything you buy they plant 10 trees.

How do you think while shopping? Do you have any favorite brands that think environmentally or in a new way? Feel free to comment, I would love to hear your thoughts about this!

 

Karün sunglasses made from fallen trees

Karün sunglasses made from wasted fishing nets

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4 thoughts on “Shopping ethically – is it possible?

  1. Så viktigt ämne! Visst känner du till Johanna N? Jag brukar surfa in hos henne när jag känner mig villrådig vilka märkningar på bomull som verkligen är fair trade osv

    1. Men vad köper man istället? Konstläder är inte bättre och det går sönder på en gång. Och bomull är ju inte heller bra. Second hand är väl bäst I guess?

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