5.6.19

Fast Fashion, Small Changes & Privilege



When's the last time you checked your privilege and thought outside of your own circumstances?

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This morning I attended a Penneys (Primark) summer event in rainy, rainy Dublin city centre. I was thrilled to arrive and see that their displays were showcasing the current changes they're making with fast-fashion and becoming more eco-conscious overall. I thought "Fair play, at lease one brand is bothered." 

Penneys is a brand I personally hold in high respect as of late since their huge cruelty free beauty range launch last year. They didn't just slap a quick "not tested on animals" label on their products, they spent thousands going through the official Leaping Bunny programme where Cruelty Free International vigorously tests brands, their products, their ingredients and their sources before declaring them a 100% cruelty free brand.

This was an amazing move. Penneys/ Primark are an enormous chain worldwide and for an affordable to chain to make a stance like that and announce it loudly and proudly across their platforms and stores was a game-changer. It was the first of many changes I've seen the brands make since.

Penneys (which I'm using as my example due to relevance) are a brand that are listening to their customers and are actually trying to make changes for the better within such a vast and problematic industry. They're by no means perfect and have strides to go in terms of improving but at least they're making SOME changes. They even have a page on their website dedicated to wages, workers and eco improvements so their transparency is also something to be aware of. (Please note that I'm not erasing their faults or their history, I'm just acknowledging that they're at least willing to change.)

"If Penneys is the most affordable option for someone, then it's great that they can choose to buy a more sustainable option if they want to. [..] Change is slow but it's clearly happening if Penneys are paying attention to changing consumer attitudes!" 
- Sarah

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The world of fast fashion has been gaining attention over the last few years and so it should; it's an inhumane and environmental disaster zone but I do think it's changing. I really do. 

I received backlash for posting about Penneys' eco-changes from the event this morning but it's vital to remember that quitting fast-fashion altogether just isn't a reality for many.

Privilege is an issue I witness daily within so many topics. Whether it's veganism, sustainable fashion, cruelty free beauty and so on. People are passionate and in dire times such as these - where we have basically 12 years left to save our planet - passion can overrun reality.

The reality is this: not everyone can afford to not buy on the high-street. You and your friends may be able to shop your entire wardrobes via charity shops and apps such as Depop but that simply isn't the case for everyone. You might find a change you've made low-cost and easy to do but that is your experience. Assuming others have the same mental, emotional and physical capabilities as you, alongside your financial, societal and educational standards is privilege embodied.

I've read in my inbox that boycotting fast fashion is "the only way ahead right now" and as idealistic and wonderful as that sounds, it's problematic in itself. Hear me out. I'm aware of my personal privilege and the platform I have and I try and utilise it everyday to try and inform and educate, alongside the topics I love: fashion and beauty. My online following consists of mostly 18-30 year old women and the majority of these women simply aren't wealthy. 

It wouldn't be fair or logical for me to tell these people to go cold turkey on the high street and what they're doing is wrong, wrong, wrong. What I can do though, is educate people in a relatable, empathetic and realistic way. Encouraging even the smallest of changes to hopefully inspire more down the line.

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I think a lot of the time people hold influencers/ bloggers/ whatever we're called nowadays on too high a pedestal and forget one thing: We're human. We're flawed. We're hypocritical. We're contradictory. We fuck up. The entire reason this industry began was to step away from your day-to-day celebrities and to show that any random person with a laptop could launch a platform. That person being you or I, not an actor with a publicist speaking for him.

My job involves me trying out trends, attending press days and regularly researching what's on shop floors and what's being showcased online. I don't allow myself to feel guilty or panicked by doing so because I remind myself of the changes I'm making elsewhere; I've cut down on clothes shopping across the board (we're taking weekly spends down to monthly, if even), I try and put a sustainable 'spin' on fashion content (investing in certain pieces, how to wear items X amount of ways), I've cut down on my plastic use, I recycle, I eat a plant-based diet and so on and so forth. If I feature an ASOS bag that brings me joy and it's something I use on a regular basis, I'm not an eco-demon for doing so.

One thing I refuse to do online is create unnecessary guilt, panic and hopelessness within people who are trying their best living on a capitalist planet. I'm not going to criticise people for not eating a plant-based diet like me because I'm aware that not everyone is able to make such a personal change. I was only able to make the official switch last month myself because my mental health has improved this year and I finally felt ready for it - and that's okay. Didn't I get there in the end?

What I feel more comfortable doing, is sharing my journey and advice about my plant-based change to hopefully inform and maybe inspire some people too to try it out. I'm in no position to point fingers or question others' intentions because I know everyone's trying their best.

I'm not going to message every fellow cruelty-free beauty blogger and ask what's on their plate and where they're shopping. It's not my business. They're at least making some changes and I respect that.

"People don't understand it's collective decisions such as policy makers that have made the capitalistic world basically blow itself up. It's a fallacy to always blame the individual, rather than the governmental systems." 
- Anna

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I was called a "sell out" by someone on Instagram which admittedly really hurt me today. I've dedicated my platforms to stepping outside of a bland and money-driven bubble to talk about important issues and whilst I'm not perfect and still have so much to learn, I really do put my morals and what I think is right before money, followers, online fame (lol) and so on. My family, friends and peers would confidently agree with me on that one, I assure you.

If I was a sell out, I wouldn't have thrown myself into the Repeal vote last year. I would have seen my numbers and job opportunities begin to drop and would have stopped talking about it - but I didn't because I knew that vote was worth more than my influencer status. If I was a sell out, I wouldn't have declared to only use and promote cruelty free beauty products from 2017 on. I would have turned a blind eye and chose the lavish press drops and paid collaborations with brands that test over my compassion for animals. I could go on..

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The "all or nothing" mindset so many people have when it comes to being more conscious is extremely detrimental. Kudos to anyone who can charge full steam ahead cutting out meat, shopping secondhand and avoid travelling via airplanes altogether but that just isn't reality for most people.

Instead of celebrating small and significant changes consumers are making, people have started to criticise them because they didn't do 'this' too. Instead of applauding someone who's decided to cut out red meat from their diet in order to make a change suited to them, people have decided to overlook this progression and think that it just isn't good enough ("But why aren't you cutting out dairy?" Why do you still eat X, Y and Z?" etc etc). This creates guilt and fear.

"This attitude drives me crazy. We don't need everyone doing everything perfectly. We need everyone doing what they can! This 'all or nothing' attitude puts people off as well because if they are thinking "what is the point if I can't do it all?" Small changes from everyone lead to big changes." 

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Whatever changes you're capable of making are worthy regardless of anyone telling you it isn't enough. If you don't feel ready to cut out meat or don't have the time to go charity shopping, you are not a bad person and the changes you are making are still valid

Everyone has the best intentions at heart because of how terrifying being a human on this planet is but when we don't show empathy towards each other, things can have the opposite effect.

Not everyone can cut out meat. Not everyone can stop shopping affordable clothing. Not everyone can use Moon Cups. Not everyone can use metal straws. The list goes on. You sometimes just have to check your privilege. It's not a comfortable thing to do and can make you feel like you're a total idiot (trust me, I've been there) but it's a place that you can grow from. 

Instead of shaming and calling out people merely attempting to make SOME changes, let's focus on the changes that are being made and the realistic ways both people and brands can approach further improvements. 

Thanks so much for reading and congrats if you've made it this far! This blog post isn't an attack on those who disagree with me or don't believe in the power of small changes, it's just an attempt to show the importance of stepping outside of your privilege every once in a while.

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Changes you can make today:

- When shopping (online, on the high street or otherwise) try and think about the genuine use and wear you'll get out of an item. Is it a necessary purchase? Do you have something similar? Are there multiple ways you can wear it?
- Research brands that are attempting to make a difference (Primark, M&S, ASOS, Monki, Weekday, Lucy & Yak, Lush to name but a few.)
- Invest in pieces you know you'll wear regularly (jeans, jackets, bags, shoes).
- Prioritise natural materials if possible over synthetics.
- Find out which shops offer recycling bins for clothing (TK Maxx, H&M, M&S).
- Switch to cruelty free beauty. Cutting out animal-tested beauty products is one of the most accessible and easy ways to make a big difference in my opinion. I find affordable brands tend to more than likely be cruelty free over high-end brands, which is great for your wallet also.
- Cut down on eating/ drinking animal products. Whether you reduce your dairy intake or take on No Meat Mondays, reducing your animal product consumption makes a significant difference.
- Purchase a reusable coffee cup or water bottle. Cafes usually offer a discount on drinks ordered with a reusable cup too so it's a great money-saver over time.
- Use pubic transport more. I personally don't drive (I'd be the worst driver ever, believe me) but if you do, opting for the bus or train every few days or so can be an accessible way to reduce your eco-footprint.


Eco-conscious online shops:

The Natural Company | Urban Outfitters 'Renewal' vintage section | & Other Stories

(Please note the above links are affiliate links; I receive a small % from any purchases made.)


P.S. I recently recorded a podcast with Her.ie for their Girls with Goals series discussing a lot of the above (by complete chance). Watch it here:



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