Thursday, March 27, 2014

Conscious Consumer

As Mayim-bialik once said "I don't think veganism is for everyone tomorrow," however, I do think every single person, for themselves and for the environment, has an obligation to be a conscious consumer. Whether it may be with food, clothing, cosmetics, etc, start reading the labels! I know, I know, but you're in a rush and you're on a budget and this is America, where we throw things in our shopping carts as we walk down the isles because it's 5 items for a dollar today. I get it, but that's not an excuse to be a zombie consumer, consuming what big corporations are throwing at you because they want one thing and one thing only: your money. Remember, you vote with your dollar.

 An old-school rule to looking at your food labels is: if you can't pronounce it, you probably shouldn't eat it! 

But I'm going to talk about clothing in this post. And before I give you some clothing alternatives you can incorporate into your wardrobe to be a more sustainable and animal-friendly consumer (yay!), here's a really cute and simple video that will show you why you should consume consciously and what STUFF you are consuming.

Great. So now you understand why you should be aware of what you are buying: 

1. In the past three decades alone, one-third of the planet’s natural resources base have been consumed. Gone.
2.  If everybody consumed at U.S. rates, we would need 3 to 5 planets. And you know what? We’ve only got one. (No, the possibility of the colony on mars doesn't count).
3.  According to the government, the resources we are taking from third-world countries, are not even owned by the people who live there!
4. There are over 100,000 synthetic chemicals in use in commerce today. Only a handful of them have even been tested for health impacts and NONE have been tested for synergistic health impacts, that means when they interact with all the other chemicals we’re exposed to every day. 
 As long as we keep putting toxics into our industrial production systems, we are going to keep getting toxics in the stuff that we bring into our homes, and workplaces, and schools. And, duh, our bodies.

So when it comes to buying clothing, how can you look for clothing that's more sustainable?
On your labels, look for:

Organic/ Naturally Colored Cotton: This is a great sub for regular cotton because it is grown without fertilizers, pesticides, and little to none of those 100,000 synthetic chemicals that have never been tested for health impacts. And guess what? It usually feels and looks better than regular cotton. So it's a little more expensive, but it's an investment in the future state of our world. How will your grandchildren buy the hip clothing of their day, if there aren't enough resources to make that clothing? 

Soy: Soy is biodegradable, so it has little impact on the environment. It can be comparable to cashmere, though probably doesn't last as long.

Hemp: No pesticides. No agrochemicals. 

PET plastic: Recycled plastic. Don't buy new plastic. There's so much of that damned stuff on this earth already.

How can you buy clothing that is animal-friendly?
On your labels, look for:

Acrylic: Acrylic is made out of synthetic fibers and organic compounds such as unsaturated carboxylic acid. This is a great substitute for wool, which is made out of sheep, goats, rabbits (you know, those cute fluffy creatures some of you have as pets?), and camelids. I cannot stress enough how perfectly great acrylic is. And it is usually cheaper!

Faux Leather/ Pleather/ Leatherette: Usually made from plastics or a mix of linseed oil (from flax), calico (unbleached and not fully processed cotton), dryers, lampback (incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products) or other pigments. Buy these instead of regular leather, which is made out of a mix of animals. Mostly cattle hide, but sometimes cowskin, unborn calve skin, deerskin, lambs, elkskin, pigskin, buffalo, goats, alligators, dogs, snakes, ostriches, kangaroos, oxen, and yaks

There is also a such thing as fish leather which is made from salmon, perch, wolffish, cod, sturgeon, eel, and shark

Also, you might want to stay away from brained leather, which a tanning process that uses animal brains or other fatty materials to alter the leather. YUM.

This stuff is usually also cheaper than real leather.

Rayon/ Art Silk/ Viscose/ Nylon/ Polyester, Rayon, and Cotton (blended): Made from cellulose fibers such as wood pulp, and plant cuticles. Nylon is made chemically and can be made by molecules with an acid (-COOH) that react with molecules containing amine (-NH2) groups. These are fibers to look for instead of Silk, which is made from the mulberry silkworm, but can also be made from bees, wasps, ants, silverfish, mayflies, thrips, leafhoppers, flies, beetles, fleas, midges, and spiders. 

NOTE: polyester is not always sustainable, so if you can, opt for the other options instead.

These are also generally cheaper than real silk.

I'm going to end my list here, but I am always looking to continuously be aware of what goes into our clothing and if there are possible substitutes, so I will always be updating this. This post was text heavy, so if you've read the whole thing I thank you, commend you, and hope you go out there do less zombie-shopping and more conscious-shopping.

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