From Fashion to Fair. The Journey Begins.
It all started 2011 with a bet.
One year- no shopping. No clothes. No accessories. No jewellery. No Nothing.
At this time I used to be a flight attendant. I flew a lot to New York and Bangkok. And when you are tired, but not supposed to sleep right away, shopping and eating are the preferred activities. So it was normal to buy cheap shit every time. Thanks god it was cheap. Otherwise I couldn´t have afforded it. And thanks god we are limited by customs. On the other side it made me blind. Since I didn´t spend that much, I had no reason to stop it. Right?
That year, on a sunny day in August, all of a sudden it hit me. Am I addicted?
I was sitting in my cloffice (a room which used to be an office with one wardrobe and now is a Boutique with a desk) and wondered if I just could stop it. For one year. I looked around and saw that I possibly had everything and more to last me for the rest of my life! Ah sure I might need one pair of socks. Or two. And maybe some travel hats since I lose them easily enough…but besides that?
And so I decided to stop for a year. The first month was strange. Sale everywhere. All those missed opportunities.
So unfair. So cold-turkey.
But then it changed really fast. Within six weeks I felt better or as I like to put it, I was cured! It was great not to be on a hunt anymore. And I started doing other things I enjoyed again. Visit galleries in New York, kayaking in D.C, bicycling in Toronto, finding the best pad thai in Bangkok, getting wasted in Narita! Knowing, I wont buy anything anywhere was a total relief.
So did I win the bet? You bet :–)
There was once…ah…lets call it…a tiny situation. I was on a trip to Java and my Indonesian friend Mel begged me to go with her to Stadium- a club for rich Jakarta kids, run by the Chinese mafia. THE place to be. I wasn’t expecting that, so my show game wasn’t appropriate. Telling my friend that I’m the queen of feet modelling so I could easily rock flip flops didn’t convince her. She insisted on me getting sandals. Now I take my bets very seriously so I asked my betting mate if it was ok to buy a pair in this emergency situation and he flatly refused. So I did, what I had to do. Change the rules! That was truly an emergency, so I bought the shoes. We had a blast at the club…besides the slightly disturbing fact that accidentally bumped into the club bordel and witnessed how very young girls were sold to greasy guys.
Three months into the challenge, my betting mate weakened and ordered a bunch of T-shirts! Pff. And me? I finished the year and won a leather jacket. YES. A real leather jacket. This was back in 2011 when I took my first baby steps to ethical consumption. I had a long way to go. Eventually I learned what to buy and where from.
I was allowed to shop again from August 2012. And I did shop. Less crab certainly, but still bad stuff…I never bought fur. I was born with the knowledge that fur is bad. But I bought leather. And down. And wool. And H&M. And Zara, Mango, Nike, Victorias. Everything.
Even though everybody knows about the massive problems the fashion industry creates by producing in Asia, nobody really cares. Made by children has become more of a joke, than a real ethical threat. Maybe because we heard it so many times the term got worn, like an old leather jacket. As meaningless as statements we hear about food waste since children in Africa are dying of hunger. We know its true, but it doesn’t move us anymore. It doesn’t touch us. It became normal.
I even participated on a popular German TV show called “Shopping Queen”. Im the Vice Shopping Queen from Vienna. I was well on my way to falling into the old shopping habbits again. I don’t know if I ever would have changed for real, if it wasn’t for the animals. I was on the PETA site to check some updates for animal testing for cosmetics when I saw the other lists. Animal testing for cigarettes. For food. For clothes. Pardon my French, but WTF?!
And why? Well its easy. Because nowadays EVERYTHING is made with a certain amount of toxic chemicals. And even though the industry is not interested in killing their customers, by law chemical products have to be tested. I guess its ok when we get a little bit sick, get a little cancer. Just enough to cure us with some medicine. But nobody wants us to die too soon.
But since I always said I never buy anything animal tested, well, the situation was clear. Because virtually everything good or bad was tested on animals I crossed them all of the list. In one second. That easy. Unfortunately nobody wanted to bet with me. But a new challenge was born.
One year everything had to be fair-trade, organic, without animal testing or out of animals and sustainable. If I cant afford or find what I really “need” from fair-trade companies, then it has to be secondhand or borrowed.
So Penny gives no single penny to the badass companies anymore! That was one year ago and I’m still here.
Are you curious to know how I worked it out? Stay tuned for my next piece here and with UrbanMeisters.com where I reveal how I worked this new challenge and follow me on Instagram: @pennyfoxme