In Discussions, Discussions, In my closet, Life, Style

Am I really doing a disservice to those who suffered for my garments?

Had a thought-provoking comment from Lauren on this post: Companies are really full of crap these days, that made me think twice.

(And I encourage those kinds of comments! This is not an attack on Lauren, but it’s something that made my brain churn, which is always exciting.)

She wrote:

are you buying new things to replace usable ones that are made in less desirable circumstances or have you officially used them up/worn them out before purchasing new ones?

I would say not getting full use out of something that you already bought – something that someone is probably less likely to get full use out of if donated is not doing a service either and in some ways discredits the sacrifice/suffering already endured by the employees of the company

Hmm.

Interesting viewpoint, but for me, not applicable in this situation for this main reason:

I am not replacing that stuff with the same stuff I originally purchased.

If I said all of this, and then went out to re-purchase everything from retailers that dealt in Third World labour, then YES, I would be a hypocritical person who is not crediting those who suffered.

I DON’T THINK PEOPLE WHO SUFFERED FOR MY GARMENT CARE ONE FIG

Honestly, I don’t think the poor people who suffered for my garment care one fig that I am “discrediting” their misery by selling the items secondhand, donating or binning it.

They care about their situation and how to get out of it.


It’s even better that the market for cheap crap dies, so that people stop treating others like dispensable human resources and find other ways to make money.

To put it another way, this is not like with Feminism, where I talk a good game about wanting to be an equal partner and to go out to earn the bacon as much as my partner……

……and then I turn around, marry some rich guy, decide that Feminism is too much work, and campaign actively to give up my right to vote so that I can live like a kept woman under a man’s thumb and wallow in his money like a dressed up, perfumed, brainless plaything.

If I did THAT, I’d definitely be discrediting the brave, pioneering women who fought for those rights to begin with.

I’d be setting back that movement way back to the times when women were under the rule of a male person.. any male, even their sons.

In contrast, by my re-buying my essentials from countries that are ethical, pay fair wages and aren’t unscrupulous and greedy, I am in no way discrediting these workers or their suffering in any way for what they “gave up” for my garment.

In fact, I am actually helping them by hoping to put my money to good use to kill the demand for cheap crap by refusing to purchase from companies who support that.

It’s all our fault too as consumers. We vote with our money.

It’s that we DO buy cheap crap, and LOVE to do so, that the market exists and thrives.

Kill the demand, and the supply dries up.

Buy secondhand, and the supply of new crap, dries up.

PEOPLE WHO BUY SECONDHAND MAY NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES

I am well aware that not everyone has $1000 to drop on a pair of handmade boots from Italy.

I know that and I am not judging anyone who doesn’t do that.

You do what you think is best for you.

I also know that this is not the case for everyone who shops secondhand because I enjoy buying things used.

See, what I bought in the past, is perfectly fine, and it was of decent quality (I didn’t shop a whole bunch at Forever 21, H&M or those other cheap stores).

I’ll bet you what I have donated and sold is perfectly fine, but based on my philosophy and my values going forward, I can’t continue wearing it.

Call me crazy, but it’s the way I feel.

I’d feel like an utter fraud and I’d be lying to myself, which is the dumbest thing to do.

I made a choice, and I need to stick to it and go the whole hog.

Or else, where do I draw the line? Do I have fuzzy values in that case?

Wardrobe-Closet-Mochimac-Clothes-Dresses-11

I AM KEEPING MY FORMER ITEMS OUT OF LANDFILLS

By donating or selling them, they don’t get chucked into a bin and forgotten about.

I really take care of what I buy, even the cheap stuff. I’ve noticed the cheap stuff doesn’t last as long, but nevertheless, I still take care of what I own.

So someone who is getting my boots or a sweater, can rest assured that it is pretty much like new, except the chemicals have washed out (80% leaves on the first wash), and I ate part of the retail cost for them, passing on savings.

They win in both ways, because the garment is already produced, the misery has already been passed on to me as the first purchaser, and they get savings on all the emotional, financial and environmental fronts.

NO ONE IS BUYING ANYTHING NEW WHICH SAVES ON MORE SUFFERING

If you think about it, the misery and suffering of those workers that went into that garment or the things that I am selling, are not being repeated because no one is buying anything new.

If someone didn’t buy my shoes, they’d probably go out and buy new shoes anyway.

I mean, I’m like that.

I have been hunting for rainboots for a long while, and it wasn’t until I found Aigle that I had a brand I could buy, however sooner or later, I would have purchased rain boots regardless of what was available or not on the market.

I am really just the in-betweener who offers them an option of buying gently used items in good condition, that they otherwise may not have purchased.

They’re not buying yet another set of things on top of the ones they’ve purchased from me.

Wardrobe-Closet-Mochimac-Clothes-Blazers-Jackets-Coats

CURRENTLY REPLACING WHAT IS NECESSARY FOR MY STYLE

Okay, so the jewellery not was “necessary” per se, but the underwear from Victoria’s Secret, and the fact that I had no rain boots, meant that I had a need for them in my wardrobe anyway.

I also bought new jewellery from artisans I admire on Etsy because I have no self control when the spending gates open.

Otherwise, I am not replacing my entire wardrobe and systematically buying the exact replica of each item, as long as it isn’t made in some poor country.

Frankly, I could get rid of half of my things and still have enough to wear for months on end.

(Very anti-minimalist of me, I know, but I am counting on the idea of remixing my clothing too.)

SO NO, I DON’T THINK I’M DISCREDITING ANYONE WHO SUFFERED FOR MY PREVIOUS GARMENTS AND THINGS

I’d like to think that by selling and donating it to people who will love it more than I will, and refusing to re-purchase or buy anything from companies that deal in such practices, I am making a conscientious choice as an ethical consumer to say “No” and stop contributing to the demand for cheap, low-quality clothing.

Thanks for the comment Lauren, you really made my day and made me understand on a deeper level the choice I have made.


Now, I have stronger convictions about my values because of what you have said. 🙂

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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5 Comments

  1. Tania

    It is a difficult dilemma and the right thing will be different for each individual. I think making the commitment to replace with items as needed that were made ethically is commendable. I also think replacing your items now while donating your current items is also commendable. If you have the means and you will feel more comfortable replacing, I see no problem with that.

    As a budding minimalist I can understand how you feel about it. When we let go of excess posessions, many others could view it as we are “wasting” items that are still good. As I’ve been letting go, I do feel that ache sometimes of giving away something that is still perfectly good. When you start to strip down your posessions however, what you have remaining is very important. You need to feel incredibly good about something you will wear or use day in and day out. I get it.

    There is another benefit to the route you’ve chosen to go. If you are no longer using your older items and people see you with your newer items (or as you share on your blog here), then you are not promoting the fashion pieces you now feel were not produced ethically. I have a few items that I still own but I wouldn’t buy again based on what I now know (Toms shoes for one). While I still use them and will continue to do so until they’re no good, I don’t share pics on instagram, twitter or FB of me wearing these items and I don’t blog about them. I’m not hiding the fact that I own them but I don’t feel comfortable promoting them in a way that someone else might run out and buy a pair.

    Reply
  2. Lauren Morris

    funny :). I’m actually the original commenter. I don’t find this to be an attack (with the slight exception of the italicized/bolded “because of what you said” part that did come off as condescending – as if I were actually attacking you in the first place or something?…). I didn’t find the rest of it condescending because it was an honest question, not a trolly remark. My question was actually if you were buying to replace things you already own or whether you were just buying new as you were getting new. From the above, it sounds like a mix. To an extent, yes, I feel that it is a discredit to the workers because I think getting anything new while you still have something that functions the same is adding to the cycle of consumerism even if in a very small way is probably a negative net effect (which is an extremely complex equation). That said, I do think it is a very small amount (like a million times less than what the normal 1st world consumer is like). I ask because I grapple with the same thing although I’ve decided I would rather join something like the compact as my solution (buying almost exclusively non-new items with the exception of consumables). My ultimate determination was that it might not be truly possible to have any “guilt free” items in a capitalistic society. I’ve never bought from “disposable clothing stores” like forever 21, or H&M and have always tried to buy few things that were made to last. I think that if minimalist consumers (which I strive to be) truly examine their impact on the world, it is easy to see that clothing and items are still a small fraction of our global impact on our fellow humans. For instance, the packaging that we generate from our food choices to the fact that we buy pesticide treated food (which means we have played a part, in even a small part of the chain for exposing workers to pesticides as well), makes it clear that nearly each and every choice we make in our life is not without at least some guilt. What is the solution to this? I don’t know if there is one, but ignoring our complicity is obviously not the answer. I was just curious what your take was on it since I deal with the same issues.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      To clarify, when I put those notes in there, it was to ensure that no one thought we were fighting each other.

      (Ironically, this ended up being the opposite effect of what I wanted with you and I!)

      See, I’ve blogged for too long to know that even though a commenter and I may genuinely have questions (and responses) to each other, OTHER commenters might see you as a troll (which I did not think you were), or see me as attacking you (which I was not).

      As a result, every time I write a response that needs a post, I always clarify at the top and make sure that everyone KNOWS that it is not an attack and I didn’t think it was a remark of a troll or that I felt you were attacking me.

      It’s unwieldy, confusing and annoying, but it saves me comment trouble and nasty hate mail in the long run. 🙂

      ———–

      ANOTHER good question!

      I think I want to do a post on this, but in short this is what I think: *Everything
      we buy in our society, holds a form of guilt. Everything. There is nothing that doesn’t.*

      I know that what I buy already comes with a modicum of guilt.

      As a result, the best I can do is buy the most ethical, and best item that I can, given my circumstances. If I don’t actually need it (e.g. laptop), I won’t buy it (e.g. another new top).

      Post coming up! (You are a fountain of inspiration).

      Reply
      1. NZ Muse

        Very true. It would be bloody expensive to buy everything organic, free range, handmade, ethical, local, sustainable etc. And even if I could I would then feel wealth guilt.

        Reply

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