Green Consumerism Diary – Day Two

Posted on August 3, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Tuesday 3rd August

Thought about my clothes today and where they came from.  My t-shirt is Fairtrade, D bought it for me, I think it was from M&S.  My jeans are second hand from Mike Hunt in Belfast.  My belt also came from there, free with a different pair of second hand jeans which I bought a number of years ago.  It’s leather and it’s also branded (Diesel) but I’ll generally have a t-shirt or a jumper over it so it never shows.  I take issue with being a walking advert and not getting paid so I tend not to wear clothes with a logo.  The belt is the only piece of leather clothing I own (being vegan I tend not to wear leather, wool, silk or any other animal products) but I don’t see the point in getting rid of it as I’m not increasing demand for leather by wearing something I got free many years ago.

My socks and boxer shorts are from Primark and Next (I think), and probably therefore some form of slave labour.  Next receive negative marks by EC for “operations in 4 oppressive regimes” and are rated 6.5 overall.  Primark are even worse with an overall rating of 3 with negative marks for “abuse of the human rights of Bangladeshi garment workers” and “workers paid less than a living wage”.  I remember once remarking on the difficulty of finding ethical underwear at a party.  I’ve had better nights.

I have in the past bought underwear from the Amnesty webshop and you can now buy eco friendly, ethically produced, bamboo socks and underwear.  However you do pay significantly more for them and I found the socks wore a lot quicker than those I’d bought in the high street.  Sometimes you just need to go into a shop and but a multi pack of socks and boxer shorts and you don’t want to have to pay much more then a tenner for them.  There is hope that M&S have said that they aim to one day source all their cotton Fairtrade though I am not sure how far that has gone to date.  However it is good that you can now buy FT t-shirts on the high street.

I tend to wear skate shoes when in casual clothes.  Luckily there are a number of vegan/veggie skaters who will only put their name to non leather shoes.  This means there is quite a decent selection.  In the past I would have got my shoes in skate shops.  Some staff were better than others at knowing which ones were vegan.  Now I tend to get them online from Kate’s Skates for convenience.  The webshop has a search engine so all you need to do is type vegan and you can see what’s available.  Again, I know it would be better to support a local indie skate shop but I hate having to check the label of every pair of shoes or having to ask the shop assistant who often won’t know.

The shoes I have are made of “synthetic nubuck” and it has been put to me that synthetic materials aren’t very eco friendly.  However the tanning process for leather is also very environmentally unsound so I don’t find this a compelling argument to wear animal products.  The shoes are also made in China, I suspect under poor labour conditions.  I have in the past bought shoes from Vegetarian Shoes a mail order company all of whose shoes are made in the UK.  However, while I have found their formal shoes to be very good I have had less success with their casual shoes.  I once bought a pair of hemp shoes which were ridiculously uncomfortable, which is hardly surprising given that hemp is used to make rope (I did once have a 50% hemp/50% cotton jacket which was much more comfortable but didn’t hold it’s colour).  They also let in water and I can’t abide having wet feet.  I had another pair of casual Vegetarian Shoes but they were so bland looking that I couldn’t bring myself to pay in the region of £60 for a pair of shoes I really didn’t like.

So I haven’t yet found the perfect solution to ethical shoes.  I generally wear a pair of shoes for a year of more (until they start letting in water) which mitigates the environmental impact, but I remain conscious of abuses of workers rights.

I was getting A up and ready for nursery this morning.  I wouldn’t know where to begin with his clothes.  So much of his clothes are gifts from family and friends, I assume from high street stores meaning more workers rights issues.  A lot of bleached cotton shipped from who knows where so there will be environmental impacts as well.  We have bought him the odd item of clothing online from an ethical store, but to do this for all his clothes would be impractical, as he needs clothes so often, and much too expensive.

My breakfast was the same as yesterday.  A had Ready Brek with soya milk and water.  Ready Brek scores 7.5 in EC which is quite low.  He likes it and it’s good for him but if I can find a more ethical equivalent I would considering changing (I’ll have to speak to D).

I walk him to nursery despite the fact that I now have a child car seat (free, second hand of a relative) which I’m quite pleases that I’ve stuck to.  It’s only a 5/10 minute walk and it’s good for him and me.  I am adamant that he won’t grow up dependent on lifts and afraid of the weather.  He gets fed in the nursery and they know he’s vegetarian, which caused some problems at first because it’s a relatively new nursery and he’s their first vegetarian child.

Sending him to nursery was an ethical dilemma in itself.  Both me and D were raised by ‘stay at home mums’ so found it difficult to send him to a nursery.  We both reduced our working week to four days with D taking Mondays off and me taking Fridays off.  This meant A is only in nursery a maximum of three days per week, meaning he is home more often than not.  It actually seems to be working really well.  While we have had to make financial sacrifices A gets a good balance of time with his mum, time with his dad, family time and time with other kids.

I was working in our Bangor office today so haven’t used the car at all.  It’s about a 15/20 minute walk from my house which isn’t a problem.  I went to a local independent café to get a take away sandwich for lunch.  I’ve been in there before and the girl who works there knows I am vegan.  They do a mixture of different sauces that you can have with your sandwich which means that it’s not too dry, which can be a problem when you don’t take butter of mayo.  I suggested today that they should do hummous.  It’s practically a treat when you’re vegan to be able to get hummous in a sandwich shop.  She then gave me my sandwich in a Styrofoam box which I thought was completely unnecessary when I paper wrap would do.  I probably should have said something but I am the type of person who doesn’t like to make a fuss.  I think if I pointed out every little thing like that life would become very difficult.

On the way home from work I stopped in to Ethel Austin and bought two t-shirts for my friend’s newborn son.  I did not check the label for country of origin, nor can I find Ethel Austin on the Ethiscore website.  I also stopped into a local printer’s to pay him for some work he had done for me.  I request that all my printing be done on 100% recycled paper and pay slightly extra for this.  He had originally argued that there is more energy used to produce recycled paper than to produce non recycled, but given the land needed and time taken to replace trees, overall I believe recycled paper to be the better option.  I would be interested to see if any research has been done on this.

I also stopped into a local grocer to buy broccoli for dinner.  I made stir fry tofu and veg in Sharwoods kung po sauce with boiled rice.  The broccoli may have been local but I didn’t check.  The onions and peppers that I used were bought from Sainsbury’s and were unlikely to have been locally produced.  The rice was also from Sainsbury’s and was not Fairtrade.  I usually buy FT rice from the Co-op when I shop there.

For ‘dessert’ I had two McVities plain chocolate digestives.  They are not completely vegan (they contain butter oil) but contain less dairy than milk chocolate digestives.  It baffles me how and why companies manage to get dairy into products when it doesn’t need to be there.  In my stricter days I was reduced to eating nothing but Co-op bourbon creams, but I love chocolate digestives and the only vegan ones that I know of are Lidl’s and I am almost never shop there.

That’s pretty much it for day two.

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