Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Going Green

I'm a supporter of the green movement.

I do my best to minimize my waste, I try to buy local organic foods, my vehicle is a gas sipper, and I try to take public transportation when possible.

That being said, I'm also a supporter of frugality.

I'm trying to be better with my money, I try to buy things that will last rather than something that will fall apart quickly, I try to repurpose and reuse things rather than throwing them out, and I try to maintain the basic skills out ancestors took for granted (cooking, sewing, gardening, etc...)

So, when I came across a post about inexpensive eco-friendly style, I jumped right in.

And I was disappointed :(

The shoes for the outfit in question were vintage, and the top and pants were sale items.

So what's the problem?

Well, I'm really wondering what we're encouraging by buying the stuff on sale. Don't beat me down with the frugal broom, please hear me out. Nearly everything we buy in North America is mass produced, and as such there are certain economies of scale that go along with it. Mass produced good are cheaper to make, because less of the production set up and cost is carried by each of the individual items. These economies can not be reproduced by small independent designers and retailers, but they still have to compete on the same playing field.

Compare an organic cotton t-shirt from a small manufacturer to a Gap t-shirt (just an example). The Gap t-shirt costs less than the organic one, and is the shirt that most people would end up buying. Most of us would wait until the organic one was on a clearance rack before we went for it, as is suggested in the post. In doing this, are we actually supporting a green movement? Nobody considers that the profit margin on the Gap shirt is much higher than the one from the small manufacturer, and by waiting for it to go on sale we're not really supporting the small manufacturer.

We've been fed a the fast food equivalent of clothing for long enough that our understanding of how much clothing costs has been skewed. Has anyone gone into a fabric store lately? The stuff isn't cheap. By constantly waiting until things have gone on sale, we're cutting into small business's abilities to grow, and I don't believe we're really supporting them that way.

I don't have all of the answers on how to mesh both movements together. By all means, they are most certainly complimentary. I'm wondering though, does anyone else see the problem with only buying certain things on sale?


banclothing said...

Although I would love to buy organic clothes from locally grown cotton it's not reasonable. The prices are outrageous and can actually have higher margins than GAP. Business' are trying to convince us we NEED to buy organic and it HAS to cost more. As a consumer I don't accept that an organic shirt has to be 3-5 times more.

Cassie said...

You are in a unique position to be commenting seeing as you make clothing garments yourself. My intention was to focus on smaller manufacturers, not mass produced clothing. I agree the mass produced organic clothing is way over priced. I probably should have written that into the post.