Feel the Guilt & Do It Anyway?
Updated: Mar 17
I have an Instagram fashion account, it’s based on what I’m wearing and, I suppose, how I look. I also do still like to shop occasionally and I definitely fall in lust with a lot of things I see others wearing. So sometimes I worry that I’m part of the problem. And that maybe not many people get what the point of me is! (That sounds way more deep than I meant it to).
When I was kid I used to use every edge of the paper and would get genuinely anxious about the amount of trees being chopped down. I’ve always been aware of the environment. I’m the knobhead who sides eye you for not recycling and as a vegetarian of 12 years, yes I can be a bit smug about my own efforts to do good. But I’m no saint. When I shop, I shop on the high street, I haven’t mastered pre-loved and if it takes me somewhere sunny I will hop on that plane.
I don’t want to feel ashamed for doing the things that make me happy and so I’ll readily switch to bamboo toothbrushes and resusable make-up wipes if it means I can offset some of my environmental sins. Since I stopped ransacking Topshop every weekend I’ve felt a lot less guilty about buying something I genuinely love and I’m not going to get in a tail spin about where it’s from. If I want a Zara playsuit I’ll get a Zara playsuit, I just won’t get the shoes, the belt and the bag to match and be back again the next week. I try to make conscious choices and find my own balance.
Which is why it bothers me, just a little bit, when people don’t. I’m not here to shame anyone, and I’m sure there are people who think I’m a cocky little cow who should mind her own. Maybe they’re right. It’s not my place to tell anyone what to do, be that which bin their rubbish goes in or how much they should shop. All I ask is that we’re more aware.
It’s difficult to say without really riling anyone up but basically don’t just bury your head in the sand. Read a bit more about where your clothes come from and where they end up. Find out who is making them and how they are treated. Understand the impact one shopping spree has on the world and then decide if it’s worth it. But don’t just pretend to yourself that it’s all ok and that there isn’t a consequence to another online haul. Try to find new ways to shop or to wear your existing wardrobe and make an effort to fall in love with your clothes again. If you do all that, or even some of it and still want to sell your soul for a new shorts suit then I think you've come to the wrong blog!
I know that the cardigan I just bought used an obscene amount of water. I’d rather it didn’t but I bought it because I really wanted it, it made me happy and I hadn't bought anything for several months. A few years ago the impact of that cardi wouldn’t have even crossed my mind and I'd have probably bought some trousers and a couple of dresses too. Nowadays, the guilt would get to me and it wouldn’t be worth the splurge. I understand that some people resent feeling guilty, that they think it’s negative and associated with shame. But for me, the guilt I feel is actually because I care, and wanting to do better is surely nothing to be ashamed of?
Ignorance can be bliss, but one day we won’t have the choice to ignore what’s going on. One day we will be forced to take stock, yank our head out of the sand and be blinded by the lessons we could be learning now. Would it really be so bad to not buy so much before it's too late? Don’t give up something you want to do, that brings you happiness and makes your life better. But don’t pretend it doesn’t really matter either. You can own as many clothes as you want, as long as you own your decisions too.