How to talk to your friends and family about ethical fashion.

How to talk to your friends and family about ethical fashion.

As a budding eco-enthusiast, you’ve probably been in a situation where you’ve had to explain your actions to someone who may not have shared the same view as you; you may even have gotten into a fight with an old man about the outdated reasoning behind the use of plastic bags at supermarkets. Or maybe that was just us. Anyway, the point is that we all react differently when things like this occur, so we’ve put together a few tips to consider when this happens—tips that’ll hopefully keep you from plunging your reusable bamboo spork into an ignorant person’s hand. 

01. Think of it as a blind date

Do your research. You don’t have to have the knowledge base Clare Press has on ethical fashion (even though we all wish we did), but understanding the basics of the area of ethics you’re interested in and basing your ideas and views on this foundation will go far when chatting to anybody about ethical living. Always have a couple of facts in the back of your mind, and pair this with your own reasons for living the way you do.

If your fight is for ethical fashion and the rights of garment workers, let us load you up with some ammo. According to the 2019 Ethical Fashion Report, of the 24.9 million people in forced labour and the 152 million child labourers, many are being abused and exploited in businesses resourcing the apparel industry, and most with a wage so low they cannot leave this life of poverty. Knowledge is power, so try and know as much as you can, especially on the topics you feel most passionate about.

Also, if the person you’re chatting to drops the “where did you get your information from” line, drop it back. Two can play at that game. We’ve all been guilty of recycling information we’ve heard from a podcast or a Netflix series, but a lot of the time this is just a long game of Chinese whispers, and incorrect facts can potentially be detrimental to the cause. If you’re ever unsur, have a scroll through our Journal to fill your “true facts and credible sources” quota for the day.

02. Judging is, like, so last decade 

This seems pretty straightforward, but judgement can come easily when emotions begin to bubble to the surface. You will more than likely have a conversation like this with someone whose views belong back in the Jurassic period, so do your best to keep these thoughts at bay. Try not to judge the person with conflicting views, even if they’re judging you, and even if their views seem outdated and just plain wrong. The Harvard Business Review tells us that people only really remember 25% of the things they actually listen to, so if your conversation is going south super quickly, make your argument like Ronda Rousey—short and punchy—and take the moral high road home.

03. Be as strong as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s quads

If the conversation about your personal ethical choices turns into a battle about why they’re completely redundant and unnecessary, stand your ground. As with all battles, both sides think their view is the right one, so try to understand where they’re coming from even if you know in your heart of hearts that you’ll never, ever agree. Listen to their point of view, try and see where they are coming from (yep, even if they’re pro plastic bags), and then give your opinion back, but don’t be as easily swayed as we are with anything involving cookies and cream…

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” – Anne-Marie Bonneau

We know it’s cliché to say this, seeing as though you’ve probably heard this quote more times than you’ve received birthday cards from a distant relative, but it’s so popular for a reason. If every single person made more of an effort on the sustainability front, no matter how small that effort may be, then the world would be a much better place than it currently is—and a much cleaner place at that.

04. Lead By Example

If they either don’t want to listen to your opinion or belittle you for having an opinion that differs from theirs, then that says more about them than it does about you (Mum will be happy to know that this piece of advice has finally sunk in). You don’t need the gift of hindsight to see that a conversation is going nowhere, so if you know this is the likely outcome, wrap it up and don’t think about it again. Live your own beliefs and truths, lead by example, and (hopefully) eventually others will follow. 

So, there you have it. When talking to someone about ethical living, think of it as a blind date, even if the person is a ninety year old; take your mum’s advice and do not judge; stand your ground and be confident in what you have to say; and make sure you keep on doing what you’re doing, you wonderful, woke human being.

Oh, and if this list triggered some conversations and experiences you’ve had about ethics and sustainability that you’ve tried to suppress because they were that dang frustrating, we’d love to hear about them. We’d like to know that we’re not alone in the “embarrassing stories about ethical living” department. 

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