Am I a Bad Person?

Well, how’s that for a dramatic post title?! Granted I don’t think it’s THAT bad with me (yet?) but the more I read, hear and watch about minimalism, ethical fashion and zero-waste movements the more I feel like maybe I’m not doing enough. I know (and it’s important to always keep in mind) that minimalism isn’t a competition and that it’s not perfect. But my inner perfectionist? It wants to be perfect. So badly. So whenever I take a step forward I feel like the goal I’m striving towards is also moving further, and I’ll never get there.

One of the first measures I’ve taken when becoming a minimalist was to consume less especially given clothes and other fashion items. I was feeling more free, I was spending less and was helping the environment through it too. But then I came across articles and documentaries (e.g. The True Cost) and I realized that maybe alone consuming less wasn’t enough, I also needed to consume in a right way, in an ethical way. So my euphoria over consuming less was quickly dimmed by the realization that I nevertheless wasn’t consuming ethically. And that is something I still struggle with. I want to be good to this planet and its people, but I’m also a student trying to become financially independent from their parents. And let’s be real, ethcial brands ARE more expensive than fast fashion brands. OBVIOUSLY. They use better materials, they pay better wages, the list goes on. And in theory that is what I want. I’m an idealist. I regulary have some kind of breakdown because of how unfair the world seems to be sometimes and how much greed is destroying. But I’ve also grown up this way. I’ve grown up always looking for the cheapest price and that is hard (way way harder than I ever expected) to get away from.

So yes, I want good conditions and fair wages. Yes, I want eco-friendly methods used. I want all of that and more. Yes, $40 for a shirt makes sense given all those circumstances. But to a person growing up spending $5 or $10 on shirts and not earning much it’s sometimes still really hard to spend those $40 on a plain shirt, even though I understand all the reasoning behind it and even support it.
Writing it down like this it sounds even more horrible than when I just whisper it in my head. But it is the ugly truth. While minimalism comes fairly easy to me, ethical consumption (and the price of it) doesn’t. It is a hard battle, that as of now I still often (mostly, okay) lose, but it’s better than not fighting at all. Some day I’ll get there.

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12 thoughts on “Am I a Bad Person?

  1. To put it simply – no! You’re not a bad person! In fact, you are doing a lot, LOT more than everyone else is. You definitely shouldn’t feel bad for not being able to do as much as you want/spend as much as you want on clothes. Especially as a student trying to live alone etc, the way we’re brought up basically makes it very hard to live in that ideal world. Don’t put yourself down – you’re doing an incredible job and I’m very proud of you!

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  2. You touched on my main thought: ethical companies are often more expensive. It’s great to buy from them when you can, but it’s also okay if it doesn’t work for your budget right now.

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    • Yes, thank you. There’s definitely a conflict of interest with me, but we all just have to try and give our best. And for now that’s got to be enough.

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  3. Old habits are hard to break. ESPECIALLY, it seems, when you’ve had to be frugal with money! I’ve been inspired to be minimalist, too, and years of having to be so careful with money has made it difficult for me to let things go sometimes – even when I don’t need them. I’m working on it. All we can do is our best.

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  4. This is a similar struggle to what I’ve been going through! I, too, suffer from “never good enough” syndrome. It’s important to feel like even taking tiny steps is something. You’re working your way there to the big stuff.

    And unfortunately, it doesn’t get easier as a recent grad. Though you start making more money, you start spending more on different things as well. Good luck! Cheering for you 🙂

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  5. This is such a well-written and thought-provoking piece! I can certainly relate to the struggle. What is important to remember, though is that you don’t have to go all out to make a difference. You are already doing a lot by being a minimalist and ethical consumption can come in many forms. Me, for instance, I thrift a lot and even though it’s not ideal (a lot of those 40$ shirt companies do great things for communities and they are awesome businesses to support) it is what I can afford. Taking it one step at a time definitely helps!

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  6. Hi, Diana you are not a bad person! One way to maintain ethical ideals and minimalist mindset on a budget is to buy ethical+quality brands at consignment shops. Not only are you making an ethical textile decision, your helping someone else reduce their footprint and saving a little money for yourself. Although goodwill’s and thrift stores are great – they rarely have ethical clothes because so few people worry about (are aware of?) the lack of ethics in the textile industry. Doing your best to be environmentally, ecologically and ethically responsible does not make you a bad person – it moves you closer to your best self!

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  7. Go easy on yourself Diana – remember that just by being intentional with your choices you’re already way ahead of the curve. The extra money quality costs is good for everyone, including you – you are forced to be more intentional and buy clothes that you will want to wear in 5 years time.

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