Shopping More Consciously: Why I Started This Blog

        My sister and I recently went shopping at an inexpensive chain retailer and even armed with coupons on coupons, I didn't find myself wanting to buy much of anything: a few camisoles to replace ones that had worn out, a pair of slacks for work while I'm losing weight and between sizes, and a flyaway cardigan in a trendy color. 
        Even if the clothes were cute on the rack, many of them felt static-y and flimsy with loose threads all over. If the item actually fit properly, it just didn't seem worth buying. Cue inner rant on "fast fashion". Cue guilt and curiosity about how the prices of these items can get so low - where are they coming from, who is making them, how little must they be getting paid for the company to sell so low?      
        The store was closing so we checked out and went home. Having a shared love of movies starring Rachel McAdams, we watched The Vow before turning in. Shots of the Chicago skyline and neighborhoods I know made me miss Chicago - the city that sparked my love of shopping local and wanting to know the contents and origin of my food, clothes, and other goods.
        After the movie, my sister was eager to (yet again) show off what great deals she scored when the musings in my head came out.

Image courtesy of stockphotos / FreeStockPhotos

          Out came my grievances with fast fashion, child labor, and poor treatment of the people working long days making those clothes. Out came my rant for people to start buying from American designers that sell items actually made in America and my related rant on "patriotic" people on Independence Day sporting Old Navy flag tees made in China. Out came my rant on the awful things the fake Chanel purse she bought in New York may have funded. Out came my rant that people should know that what you put on your body should be just as important as what you put in it.
        I could tell my sister was falling asleep and wanted me to stop talking, but was too tired to get up and leave. She said it was cheaper and easier to go to a big retailer and it didn't matter if she made a different choice because not everybody else will.  It took too much time and was too expensive to find alternatives.
        To me, that is the problem. Why don't people make time to make better choices? Or even to learn about other choices? Or at least try to consider sustainable or ethical products and practices? As consumers, you vote with your money and choose to buy one thing over another every day. If you are looking for a lipstick or pillowcase or scented candle or canned corn, out of the countless brands on store shelves, you choose a certain type or brand on whatever basis you deem important.
        Though the "illusion of choice" is another matter for another day:
          I know the change toward conscious consumerism needs more than one person, one household, or even one group of people. But it does start with small steps. Not everybody thinks like me and my hope is that somebody reading this blog can learn with me and fall in love with new options. I have discovered many brands on my journey that don't sacrifice cute or accessible to be better made and have some transparency in their sourcing and production practices.        
        It's not going to be perfect and not always practical or possible to buy organic, local, ethical, and sustainable. Even some 'eco' brands I rave about aren't perfect.  And I'll still write about conventional brands and chains I'm excited about and attend events that aren't always zero energy.
        But I know I'm still excited for an upcoming chance to shop local for the holidays. I know I'm excited about going to GreenFest in Los Angeles this weekend to learn and mingle.  I know I am excited to study for my LEED Green Associate accreditation and be on my way to better building design. I know I'm excited about the Chicago Fashion Incubator in which a major retailer like Macy's provides space and start up for homegrown Chicago designers. Expect to see posts about those programs and events and more.  
         I hope to show you that going green is more than a trend or a buzzword - it's a way of life. As long as I am learning and trying to do the right thing, I can share that knowledge with others and help other people make better choices too.
       As my sister said at the end of our conversation, "I'm saving the world in my way, and you're saving the world in yours."