We all want to make ethical choices, but sometimes that’s really difficult. This idea is by no means revolutionary, if anything almost every conversation I have around ethical consumerism ends up here. And there is truth in it! It takes time and research and sifting through confusing information; it takes changing some deeply ingrained habits; and it takes saying no to a lot of things we might want in that moment. But what I’d like to suggest is that this is only part of the picture.
Somewhere along the way, convenience and ease became the same thing – it’s convenient so it’s easy. But they are not the same thing, and that matters. Convenience is systematic procedures that help us access things in a less frustrating and more efficient way. Ease on the other hand is the state of being comfortable and free from embarrassment or pain. When we think about purchasing anything, what is convenient is rarely easy.
Let me explain by giving you an example. You have a costume party coming up and you’ve decided to go as Lara Croft. You’ve got the khaki pants, the combat boots and the toy gun you kept from the cowboy party you went to last year… the only thing you’re missing is a little white crop top. At this point you can go to one of the many online stores and pick out from their large selection the white crop tops for the one that looks the most “Lara Croft-y”, it’ll be cheap and they’ll ship it out to you in the next week with plenty of time before the party – that is convenience.
But what if when you receive the parcel, and you unwrap it from it’s five layers of plastic to find a low quality shirt made in Bangladesh, you get that feeling. The voice in your head that reminds you of the things you’ve read online; about how there are more pieces of plastic than fish in the ocean, and about how the garment industry is the leading cause for modern human slavery. The sinking in your chest hoping no one at the party asks you where you got the shirt from because what if they read the articles too? The uncomfortable questioning, did I do something wrong? In my books, feeling that way is not easy.
To highlight the difference, I like to think of it as convenience of purchase with the associated question ‘is this practical?’, and ease of existence with the question ‘does it make me feel good?’. Though seemingly small, to separate these two things is incredibly important. Because when we begin to only engage in things that allow for ease of existence, we tell the economy to set a new standard. And we re-empower ourselves by focusing first on our feelings and our place in the world, rather than our financial and material status. Spending money is casting a vote, and we have an incredible opportunity to vote for an economy where the standard is feeling comfortable and free from embarrassment or pain. Because frankly there is no reason that making or buying a white crop top should make you feel less than that.
Thankfully, there are things that are both convenient and easy. For example, buying a pure wool jumper means you don’t have to wash it as often because it doesn’t retain smell, or the fact that good quality denim will hold it’s shape so you don’t need to go on the dreaded ‘jean hunt’ every 6 months. Those are positive signs that the tide is changing, you need only help it along.
So here are some solutions that are both convenient AND easy, in the context of that Lara Croft costume you’ve got goin’.
- Text your friends and ask if anyone has a white crop you could borrow
- Go to an op-shop and make a fun activity of it
- Find a brand that you’d be proud to wear