I know it's been out for quite a while now (three years, in fact!), but on Sunday I finally got around to watching The True Cost.
It was particularly timely as I'd spent Saturday in town, sorting out a few bits of Christmas shopping, and generally being distracted by Shiny Things.
Shopping-wise, this is a difficult time of year for me. Everything's black or burgundy or velvet or lace or sparkly, and as a recovering goth these things are extremely tempting! But, like most people, I have a wardrobe filled to bursting with clothes that I hardly ever wear because I'm pulling out the same few outfits over and over. I'm going to a grand total of two Christmas parties (one in a pub with my husband's colleagues, and one at a friend's house with my swordfighting buddies), and I definitely do not need a new dress for, what? about eight hours' wear a year?
Having avoided the "I MUST have a party outfit!" temptation that all the adverts and shop windows were screaming at me, I did give in and "treat myself" to a little something, because frankly, who can resist Harry Potter nail polish? I must admit, the vast majority of my nail polish collection was acquired in this way - as a consolation prize for not buying something that I either couldn't afford or couldn't justify to myself ethically. Not ideal, but if it helps me to feel more fancy in my old clothes, then hey. We all need to feel a bit fancy every now and then.
Speaking of old clothes, I do need to start thinking about replacing a long black cardigan that I've had for something in the region of twenty-five years. My Mum knitted it for me before I went to University, and it's still just about hanging on. I've mended it as many times as I can, but the fabric itself is really on the point of giving up. I am a very slow knitter, so although my Mum has given me the original pattern that she used, I definitely can't knit myself a new cardigan before this one finally falls to bits. So I am going to need to buy one.
Conveniently, long cardigans seem to be in fashion at the moment - here's one for £24.99 from New Look. It's 100% acrylic (as is the one I'm replacing), and I could easily switch the brown buttons with something nicer from my stash. It doesn't have pockets though, which is a bit sad... and the website doesn't say where it was made. This £29.99 one from H&M says it's "conscious" because the polyester content of the cardigan is recycled. It does have pockets. No word on where it's made though, and I still haven't forgiven H&M for their complicity in the Rana Plaza disaster.
Nomads have a lovely long cardigan with pockets for £70... but it doesn't come in black! And then there's this one, from People Tree, for £99. That sounds like such a lot of money, doesn't it? £99 for a cardigan? Given that I'm on an extremely restricted income at the moment, it's definitely not something I could click into an online shopping basket without a second thought. I'd have to save my pennies for a few months. But, it's 100% organic cotton. It's made and bought on Fairtrade principles from India. And if it lasts as long as the cardigan I need it to replace, that £99 works out to just £3.96 a year. And that definitely doesn't seem like too much money to pay for a cardigan! Of course, I have no guarantee that any new cardigan will last as long as the old one. But it's cotton, so I can dye it when it starts to fade, the cuffs and elbows will be easy to mend, and I can add loops and buttons (or brooches) if I decide I need it to fasten.
But most importantly, I'll know that nobody needed to leave their child in another village, or keep their baby lying on the floor right by their sewing machine, be beaten, shot at, and forced to work in unsafe conditions, or end up with jaundice and liver failure and skin and lung conditions from working and living with improperly-controlled chemicals.
The film is right. We can do better. All we have to do is think. And then care.
Honestly though? I don't think I'm going to buy a £99 cardigan.
By the time I've saved the money, it'll most likely be sold out. But I can save the money anyway, and see what's available when I have it. It might go into a sale at the end of the year. I can have a look on Ebay, or in my local charity shops, for something similar. I have regular searches set up on Ebay for things that I liked but couldn't afford - like last winter's floral velvet Boden jacket. (Although - looking around for a link to it - how many of these jackets did Boden actually sell, and how many did they give away to bloggers and "influencers"?! Hmmm.)
Anyway. I'm waffling now, so I'll stop.
But please do watch the film if you haven't already. And please do recommend anything else you've seen on this subject. It's so important.