And the category is: Fabulous and environmentally aware. Looking good on a budget and a dying planet.
I may have mentioned it quite a few times in my other works, this burning passion I have for shiny pretty new things. When my salary hits my account I go into hyper stylist mode and the wings of capitalism carry me to the mall. And I cannot lie, new clothes, shoes, tech and pretty jewels make me very very happy. Maybe it’s some psychological gratification, I don’t know.
When I was still in varsity and just getting a small allowance for groceries and living expenses I couldn’t exactly blow my bank account and come back with bags full of happiness. I had to be smart about it and at this point, I had never truly considered my environmental footprint as an individual. Veganism and vegetarianism weren’t my thing and there didn’t seem to be any other discussions on how we can slow down climate change and be kinder to the planet. So I threw my metaphorical hands in the air and said a “big whup”. I am quite ashamed when I look back at it now.
But my journey into staying stylish while also caring or doing whatever little bit (beyond recycling almost all my jars obsessively) started when I entered the skating community. Within my first two months I’d ruined my favourite pair of tennis shoes, torn two pairs of jeans and I don’t know how many sweaters I’d damaged. I was getting really upset and on the verge of leaving skateboarding when a friend told me about the wonders and magical world of thrifting. “You can’t keep replacing expensive shoes and jeans every month, so go thrift some pants and a pair of skate shoes.” This was a new idea for me and one weekend they took me on one of the best adventures I’d had in the city. Hours and hours of shopping fun till my hands were full and my wallet, also still full. I got home with my ‘new’ duds, washed them all and I was ready to go on out. I found this amazing and environmentally more sustainable way of saving my money and clothes. With rare items I’d probably be the only one in this part of the country who has that specific item and a tiny part of me was super satisfied by that. It felt good on three levels and it really changed the way I saw clothing and to be honest I wasn’t that bothered by the fact that someone else had owned the items. It gave them history. Like this one cool dad sweater that has a little embroidered puppy on the inside.
Then I started talking to more people about what else I could do as a young person of little means and big heart. Simple things like carrying a reusable cup and asking if my drinks could be poured into it instead, deleting all files from the cloud storage that I’d never use and of course, plants! There are some plants that are even good to have around that lift your mood and even edible plants for salads and pain relief. Which I could grow in the same glass jars I always liked to recycle. Making investments into solar lights and tweaking the way I eat and live. Simple questions like “Can I walk instead of e-hailing( getting a Bolt or Uber) a car to my destination. If I can’t walk, can I take the bus?”I changed my movement habits which exposed me to a new side of the city and all the fun hidden book-shops and coffee shops, and my main mode of getting around became skateboarding with my friends. It just takes a little look around into what you consume and what patterns you live your life by to do what you can at whatever stage of life to add more hours, days, months, and years to the life of the planet. Another thing that I also tried out when it was at its fever pitch, which now I know a lot more about was online retail brands like Shein and Aliexpress. And I can attest that the clothes aren’t necessarily built to last or built with the people or environment's best interests. They were a huge draw for me and I reasoned that since now a large portion of my clothing was predominantly environmentally aware that I could afford to try out this new trend with a clear conscience. At the time I was still a student of little means hunting down mostly ethical clothing bargains. I'd quiet my guilty conscience by assuring myself that I was within my rights and it's only fair to get a few new things. I did thrift a lot right? I could use my budget then and social pressure as an excuse for this but anything I garnered at the expense of other people's suffering or the hurt of the environment doesn't give me any rest.There’s a very important discussion on this by someone whose opinion I trust on YouTube called Salem Tovar. They helped me change my perspective and now I’m committing to either up-cycling or keeping the clothes (this includes repairing them) for as long as I can.
Above all the things that I’ve mentioned here, being an environmentally aware, fashionable, and fabulous young person, one talent that youth has that is always available to us is energy! If you have the means, do the research and educate yourself. Really think about the cost of everything beyond money and once you understand that, you can turn it into change.
The Shein-pocalypse: https://youtu.be/lcXth8KQCqE
Support the environment at very little cost: https://greatist.com/happiness/ways-help-environment
How to grow your own herbs: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnet.com/google-amp/news/save-money-by-growing-herbs-at-home/
About the author: I am a person of the world with a window that allows me many lives. Music and good food are why I'm still here. Apples are my arch enemy.
drawing by @tiana