Responsible Shopping in Germany

Life is good! Compared with the lifestyle of previous generations, we have plenty of food… it’s cheap and available 24/7. Our wardrobes are full of clothes and shoes… we buy all that stuff in one of the big chain stores or online while lying on the sofa, we are bargain hunters and we jump on every new trend. Well, we think we have too.

The other side of the coin doesn’t look that colourful, bright or cosy. There is child labour and extremely low wages. Pesticides and nasty chemicals are used to produce cotton or dye fabrics when it comes to producing fast fashion.

While we tend to buy more organic food in the supermarkets we need to think about alternatives when we buy clothes. Do we act responsibly? Have we lost our sense for quality?

Shopping has become a drug which makes us happy. We treat ourselves when ordering a new pair of shoes online. In Germany the figures speak for themselves–people buy four times more clothes than in 1980. On checking the labels we find the stuff is produced in China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, Turkey or Eastern Europe.

This is linked to issues like insufficient safety standards, factory workers without insurance and who have no dismissal protection etc. In terms of the manufacturing process, we have to deal with massive air and water pollution.

The good news is… very slowly… a counter movement is in full swing in Germany. We switch to more quality and ethical fashion. The so-called slow fashion meets the environmental and social standards in manufacturing countries. Companies are beginning to use sustainable fibres like linen, canvas, hemp, stinging nettle. Leather is tanned with rhubarb instead of chrome and quilted jackets are filled with material from shredded recycled plastic bottles. Supply chains are becoming more transparent and we are heading in a better direction. Flea markets, second hand stores and clothes swap shops are popping up like mushrooms in Germany.

So, stay tuned for more “responsible shopping” articles in the coming days.

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