At the moment, the UK is experiencing a bit of a vegetable crisis (wow... I never thought I would be starting a blog post with a sentence like that... Don't worry, it is relevant! This experience lead to the inspiration for this post). Due to poor weather in Spain, we are experiencing a shortage of vegetables such as spinach, courgettes and other things that we import. This has been concerning me a little. For one thing, my budgies are very fussy eaters, and spinach is one of the only green things we manage to get in them! But also, I think it says a lot about how the UK goes about supplying food. James and I were walking home from the supermarket (thankfully, with some expensive spinach in hand) and we had a bit of a talk about how this 'crisis' has come about. It is incredible how much of our fruit and vegetables we import when some of them are very easy to grow. Even things such as apples, which we usually have plentiful supplies of here in the UK, get imported a great deal. Not only does it raise concerns about food prices when the UK leaves the EU, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth knowing that our food has traveled so many miles. That is in airplanes or boats, that require fuel. Sometimes food gets placed in special packaging to make sure that they stay fresher for longer. And all of this is so that demand for vegetables all year around, even out of season, can be met.
I admit that I do sometimes feel a bit guilty. But after a couple of conversations with various people, I realised that to 'truly' live ethically is actually very difficult. Be it harming the environment, people not being paid a fair wage or getting mistreated, or just generally being a bit ignorant to the problems in the world- it is easy to turn a blind eye. Even thinking you are doing something ethically good can bring up other issues elsewhere. I suppose it depends what 'issues' you feel are the most important. So it is very difficult to say how it is best to go about leading your life. However, there are things that I feel that we as lolitas can do. These are only small changes, but even small changes can add up and make a difference.
Firstly, I would like to praise brands such as Metamorphose and Innocent World. Metamorphose are known to use non-border parts of prints to make skirts and bloomers, instead of throwing this excess material away. Innocent World sometimes offer B-grade lucky packs, where the quality is not up to their usual standard. They could have simply thrown these rejects away, but instead they offer them to their customers at a cheaper price. So not only does this reduce waste, it means that some lucky people can get their hands on brand for a good price. Sometimes these B-grade items only have tiny faults, so it is worth considering these packs if you wish to give your wardrobe a good padding out.
So how can we as individuals in the lolita community help out and show the world a little love? Here are some ideas that I came up with.
- Group auction and second hand buys together in to fewer parcels. Some shopping services will hold on to items for a certain amount of time or alternatively, learn how to use Tenso.
- If you have an issue with the way a brand is going about something, be it poor working conditions or the materials they use or something else, don't be afraid to speak up and tell them. With this rise in social media, it is a lot easier now to contact companies and get your opinion out there. And the more visible your concerns are, the more likely it is that a brand will want to respond and hopefully listen.
- Don't keep demanding Made to Orders. Yes, it is frustrating when you can't get hold of a dream dress, but endless Made to Orders are not necessarily the answer. Just look at Holy Lantern- it has been re-released so many times now that it has decreased in value and it has almost become a bit of a joke. Remember- lolita is a luxury, not a necessity. Demanding more stock can actually be harmful.
- Support your local indie brands instead of importing. This is not always a feasible option, but there are some incredible indie brands out there who make really good quality pieces.
- When you are going to meets, either take public transport or car share. It reduces emissions, but also, it kind of makes sense if somebody is driving to a meet anyway. If you are going to ask for a lift though, always ask politely and perhaps offer to contribute a bit of money towards petrol.
- Check the make-up companies you buy from don't test on animals. Also look at the ingredients because some can be harmful to the environment as well. As an example, I looked in to the plastic beads that you find in some face washes last year and I found out about the impact they have when organisms living in our waters ingest them. I changed my face wash and since then, here in the UK these plastic beads are now going to be phased out.
- Hold local bring and buy events. This is also a good way to get rid of stuff that you are maybe having trouble selling and you can also get some good deals as well.
- Make do and mend stuff that has been damaged. It doesn't take much effort to search how to fix things instead of chucking them out. If you are unable to get a definitive answer, try asking in lolita sewing groups on Facebook, as they may be able to offer more relevant suggestions.
- Always keep hold of your leftover craft supplies. You never know when inspiration is going to hit, and that scrap you initially thought was useless has the potential to be made in to something cute.
- Use eco-friendly washing detergents. They have fewer chemicals in them. Admittedly, sometimes lolita clothing can require something a bit more heavy duty or need to go to the dry cleaners. But using eco-friendly products where you can could still make a small difference.
- Always keep any packaging from your purchases so that you can re-use it whenever you decide to sell something. A lot of stuff such as bubble wrap can get re-used if you are careful when you open your packages. Addresses on boxes can be crossed out and have new labels stuck over them. As long as the packaging is clean, I don't think re-using packaging should be an issue. If the packaging is not re-usable, then recycle where possible.
As always, be aware that this list is only suggestions. If you think you can add any additional points to this list or disagree with my ideas, then do feel free to comment. It can be very difficult to change 'bad' habits, but it is not impossible. As a final word, I really hope this post doesn't sound too preachy!