Conscious Consumerism, Mindful Consumption, Ethical Shopping and You

Sounds Good, But What Does it Really Mean?

In essence, it is shopping in ways that you believe make a positive environmental or social impact. First off, it means buying less stuff. We live in a consumerist culture, shopping is normal, celebrated even, but often unnecessary. In America, in the 1950s, it was considered patriotic to shop and that mindset has infiltrated our society at every level. Plus, most of us have used 'retail therapy' to try and make ourselves feel better, but no new thing is going to fill the void. You need to ask yourself, do I really need this item? The urge to splurge is real. Definitely, do not buy stuff you do not really want, just because it is cheap. So, the first criteria is evaluating your reason to buy. Can the item you already have be repaired? Can it be purchased second hand, lessening the need for resources? Step one, is to determine whether or not you actually need to buy something, being mindful of the things you are consuming.

Secondly, when you do decide to make a purchase, who do you buy it from? The brands you choose to support, are the ones who will make it to the next year and beyond. The businesses not turning a profit, will eventually go under, as we have all seen recently. As consumers, we have so much purchasing power to affect business practices. When you buy from a company, you are in essence, telling them to continue doing what they are doing. You are approving of their practices, by supporting them with your purchase. This is the concept of voting with your wallet. 

How do you vote with your dollars?

“Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” was said by Anna Lappe, author, educator and sustainable food systems advocate; and she is exactly right. In politics, we vote for or against a new policy that could be enacted. In a less formal, but still impactful manner, every time we spend our hard earned money, we are casting a vote for or against something being put into the world. For example, when you purchase recycled products, you are casting a vote for a more sustainable world. When you buy organic foods, you are voting for healthy farming practices and against pesticides and genetically modified foods. When you support small businesses, you are choosing to let the mom and pop brands survive, rather than supporting an already wealthy billionaire or multi national corporation.  

You also vote with your dollars by the things you DO NOT buy. Many European consumers demand different ingredients for their foods than are commonly used in the United States. Global brands have responded and changed their formulas to accommodate the wishes of their European customers. How did this happen? The consumers let the brands know, that they would not purchase their food products, if they contained certain ingredients, such as red dye or high fructose corn syrup. These changes were achieved, not through the political system, which is often slow, but under the rules of economics- mainly supply and demand. If companies see a dip in their bottom line, they will quickly respond by creating the change that you, the consumer, required by NOT spending your dollars. When you choose not to buy single use plastic bottles, you are casting a vote against single use plastics, and helping keep the environment safe and clean. When you choose to buy natural fiber clothing you are making a statement to brands that use synthetic fabrics that you do not want petroleum based clothing. When you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, you are telling the meat and dairy industries that their practices are not ok with you. 
The social and environmental issues we are faced with, can feel daunting to take on, and educating yourself can become overwhelming. Luckily, if a business or brand is doing their part, they will want to inform you. Unfortunately, the practice of 'green washing' has become quite common. So we need to look a little closer as to how they operate. Socially responsible companies, take their impact into consideration above their profit margin. They operate with a business model, that includes social change and embracing their responsibilities. From their environmental footprint to the actual people involved in the manufacturing process, the big picture is woven right in to the fabric of the company. 

So how do you put your dollars where your values are? 

First, you must identify your values. Values are similar to morals, they are thoughts and feelings about certain items, topics or ways to live.  They may include clean air and clean water, and how different industries affect those. For you, it might be about the people, such as garment workers in sweat shops, and not wanting to support long work days in uncomfortable conditions. Or the pesticides that farm workers are exposed to. It might be safety of animals, so you don't buy or wear leather products or consume meat. It could also be about plastics, single use, packaging and the lack of recycling options. No matter what your values are, you must first identify them, to live a life aligned with them.

Once you have identified your values, how do you find aligned brands? Not only will you find some information on their website, you can also look for their mission statement. If they are not sharing their practices and policies, you can be sure they have nothing to be proud of. You can look to see if they have any certifications like Fair Trade, for good worker practices and wages, Rainforest Safe, to help prevent deforestation and certified Organic, for non-gmo and pesticide free foods. You can also check to see if they have partnered with any philanthropic organizations and where they manufacture their products. You can find brands in every kind of business imaginable, that align with your own ethics and values. Many brands also find ways to give back the community or planet with outreach and funding of social and eco friendly programs.

What are our values? 

Here at Lotus Tribe, we see our business as an extension of our personal life and the same things that are important to us personally are foremost in our brand. How we impact the planet and our commitment to protecting Mother Nature is first and foremost in our line of eco friendly, ethically made clothing. We offer an earth friendly option, so that YOU have a choice in your own wardrobe. 

For fashion, the first question is whether it's made of natural fibers.  Everything at Lotus Tribe Clothing is ethically created, from cotton or rayon, to be as soft on the earth as it is on your skin. Choosing renewable, plant based clothing, reduces the carbon footprint of fashion dramatically.  Our approach is multi faceted, from the environmental to social impacts and giving back to the earth. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, just after the oil industry. However, there are solutions and alternatives to mitigate these problems. The vast majority of fast fashion and activewear is made from synthetic fabrics. Synthetic clothing is made using fossil fuels and the petrochemicals are toxic at every stage of production and manufacturing. These petroleum derivatives are causing harm to both humans and nature in general. From air pollution to water pollution, the cost to the earth and humanity is immense.

There are many alternatives, each with their own pros and cons. Most importantly, when it comes to fashion, is to use natural fiber fabrics. Yes, organic cotton is better than traditional cotton, but traditional cotton is far better than polyester. Hemp is better than cotton, but not the best choice for many articles of clothing. Bamboo has many benefits, such as being durable, long lasting, and naturally anti bacterial; but it requires extensive processing, using chemicals in the initial manufacturing stage. No one fabric is the answer to all of our clothing needs. The issue is to pick and choose to the best of your abilities to fit your own needs. When it comes to yoga wear, you are going to want some stretch, and that means there has to be a bit of spandex included. Our fabrics have no more than 10% spandex, so although not perfect, they are 90% better than the yoga wear made from 100% synthetic fabric. 

You must also consider that your skin is the biggest organ in your body and it absorbs what you wrap it in. Do you want synthetics and toxic chemicals covering your body all day every day? Did you know that synthetic clothing leeches tiny plastic particles into the earth's water ways every time its washed? These microplastics enter the local streams and rivers and end up in lakes and oceans. Marine animals consume it but can not digest it, resulting in thousands of deaths each year. There is also bioaccumulation that occurs, as smaller fish are eaten by bigger fish, and these microplastics do eventually get into our water supply and onto our plates. Breastmilk and umbilical cords are full of phthalates, the chemical compounds of plastic. Phthalate exposures in humans has been linked to multiple health effects. 

By choosing natural fibers, you are helping our natural environment in more ways than you can imagine. It is not only the fabric content, but also the people involved you must consider. Fast fashion is bottom line centric and cares about capitalism and consumerism above all else. It often leads to not only destruction of the environment, but also human suffering through unfortunate practices like sweat shops. In contrast, our team of creators hand cut, hand sew, hand tie and dye each garment. There are no big factories or long hot exhaustive days. Our production is based in Bali, the heart of the yoga scene and an absolute paradise.  Our workshop has abundant natural lighting and lots of fresh air, amble breaks and laughter is common. The women often bring their kids in with them, and take time out, as needed to feed or play with their children. They take time off work to celebrate holy days, without fear of the repercussions that many workers face in other countries. They are happy to have a job, to work in pleasant surroundings with friends, and to be paid a fair living wage.

For items we don't manufacture ourselves, we have met the artisan or craftsperson and chosen to support them and their traditional art. Treating people with respect and honoring their needs is at the core of our worker relations. Our partnerships have brought growth and prosperity to a number of families and we are proud to be able to support these wonderful people. 

We strive to be as environmentally friendly as possible, and to reduce our impact further, we use minimal eco packaging. You won't find any extraneous tags or other unnecessary packaging and everything we ship in is reusable, compostable and recyclable products. We even switched to using a paper tape to achieve our goal of plastic free packaging.  We are currently transitioning to recycled paper mailers instead of virgin cardboard, that are also lighter weight, for our shipping needs. Constantly upgrading and improving our practices as we find new and innovative solutions is just one way we are leading the environmental movement within the fashion industry. Imagine how much plastic could be diverted if every online purchase was shipped in renewable paper!

We believe there are more ways to be earth friendly and want to do as much as possible to offset our impact, by planting trees. Trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere, countering the effects of climate change. It is said that one tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and this is one way we practice philanthropic entrepreneurialism. We know that if every brand, business and company were to use their position to give back, the world would be a much better, healthier place for us all. So, we plant one tree, for every garment we sell. We do this through our partnership with the fabulous TreeSisters organization. Not only do they plant trees to help the air we breathe, they also provide critical habitat for endangered wildlife. Plus, they employ women in impoverished areas all over the globe. These women have not only a monthly income, but ongoing support of health and education services for their families and communities. This is multi level work they are doing and we are honored to work with such an amazing organization.

In conclusion: On Conscious Consumerism

  • Step One: Think before you buy. Do you really need it? Can you repair the one you have or buy one second hand?
  • Step Two: Identify your values, become empowered and choose products that are aligned.
  • Step Three: Buy from ethical businesses that support what is important to you and know that you are making the world a better place.
  • Step Four: Feel good about your purchases and know you have real purchasing power to enact change. 
  • Step Five: Share these ideas with your friends, spread the message on your social sites and empower others to be the change. 

By supporting Lotus Tribe Clothing for your wardrobe you are choosing to:

-Minimize microplastics in the ocean. 
-Support healthy working conditions for every step of production.
-Give people the option to wear breathable materials that are better for their health and the planet.
-Minimize unnecessary plastic waste in shipping. 
-Limit bioaccumulation of toxins in the environment.
-Aide in reforestation of the Earth’s forests. 
-Facilitate and enhance the ideal of slow fashion.
-Help keep traditional arts alive  
-Feel good, look good, do good.

Thanks for reading,

-Lotus Tribe