What is most sustainable:
avoiding and buying new alternatives or buying used stuff?
Shoes, bags, belts… the huge number of things that are made from the skin of a dead animal. Or wool and how atrocious an industry they are weather the animals kept alive and repeatedly abused or killed and cut into pieces to be sold and sewn.
When you become vegan you want to go through your closet and get rid of these things that no longer align with your values. You also realize that there are lots of items that you will not purchase because their are kinder alternatives you can buy instead. Who will chose to create demand for a product made from animal parts when you abstain from pretending that animals are food? A compassionate person also wants to be a sustainable consumer.
Vegan consumer is almost an oxymoron.
But what about second hand items?
This has happened to me many times, I am at a thrift store and I find something cool and of course it is made with leather or sometimes wool. So what to do? Avoid the item and buy something new? Or buy the item and save it from a landfill or a ocean voyage to a third world country?
To me the most sustainable option is to be okay with a second hand item because I am not creating the demand for it and I am recycling- reducing my impact on the planet. To others they would avoid and instead buy a kind alternative. I am not against this. Certainly it does happen to me sometimes when I just can’t find what I want.
It my choice to vote with my dollars for compassionate items with everything that I buy first hand. Especially things that are on, near or around my body. But there is that other side of me that wants to help create less waste. So you might find me in the check out line of my local thrifting haunt buying something that is only kind in its second iteration.
The life of the item that takes into account the tremendous resources that already went into this item from the energy, people and animals and person who discarded it for something new.
Granted you can still recycle and live sustainability by avoiding all the horror, even second hand. But a huge amount of things have been made in this way and still are, even with so many people expanding their consciousness. I love me some companies that are ethical, sustainable and not 100% profit driven. I also love to support reusing what has already been made- on the backs of the animals and with all the resources and energy input.
Thus satisfying our need to take part in consumer therapy without creating more demand for unethical crap to fill our need for bigger and better. People trying to find happiness in stuff, the last place it will be.
Let’s face it, the internet is a huge global marketplace. We are trained from a young age to buy, spend, splurge. From commercials during cartoons, the endless things on display as you wait in line to make a purchase, to celebrity. A whole industry created to tell us what we need, want and can’t live without. Believe me we can and we need to.
We are constantly reinforced to believe if we don’t have the newest, best, biggest/smallest whatever then we are some how less. I don’t know about you, but my value is not determined by what I have. Instead I focus on who I want to be, act and love in this world. To model by my presence and my lifestyle the kind of world I desire.
This brings me to the conundrum.
Can I still be an animal advocate and wear second hand leather or wool items? The question is a personal one, but certainly something that bears thoughtful consideration in terms of sustainability. We can patronize second hand stores for something, while voting with other dollars for compassionate items the rest of the time.
Sustainability needs to be taken into consideration. Not the kind that is defined as pretending to be something that you are not just so people will buy your item or eat your “food” instead of something they know is cruel and inhumane. But the kind that takes into account the land, air, water, resources, people use to grow, harvest, process, sew, ship, package, market, sell to find a first home to sit in a closet be worn maybe a few times till something new comes along and the item is now perceived as obsolete and is bagged up and dropped off at “good will,” ocean voyages included, loading, unloading, truck rides, handling, all parts of our insane overuse of precious resources and no happiness in sight, no relief from the monotony of doing it all again for the next even.
All of that is part of sustainability, run on sentence intended.
Let us see the whole picture, not just the thumbnail image of something shiny and new on the interwebs.