The Issue with Sustainability as a Middle-Class Fashion Trend

After spending the best part of two days searching for a foundation not packaged in plastic, that would still function as a foundation, I’ve become once again frustrated by how expensive everything ‘sustainable’ is. Especially as a lot of the time eco products are still packaged in plastic no matter how many times their companies use the words ‘organic’, ‘sustainable’, and ‘we really do give a shit about the planet, honest’ in their marketing spiel.

I love how the world is becoming more educated on sustainability, and I love how there are companies embracing this to create sustainable products. However, it’s definitely become a marketing buzz word for products aimed at the middle to upper classes. When questioned about their packaging, despite talking the big talk, most companies will chant the same thing. ‘We are always looking for ways to improve.’

Bollocks. Put your money where your mouth is then.

Add to this, influencers ramming guilt trips down our throats for not using their advertised products. Saving the planet can get really hard. Yet another way for social media life comparing to ruin our self-worth—yipee! I for one find myself feeling not enough so often now-a-days because I can’t afford a lot of the eco products I see advertised by beautiful women on tropical beaches. Or because I cave and buy a bar of chocolate packaged in plastic. Or because I’m not even close to vegan. Most recently, it’s been with my inability to find and afford eco makeup (more on this in a later blog post…).

The most frustrating thing to me about all the marketing attention for eco stuff, though, is it doesn’t seem to have produced a less consumerist society. We’re not buying less. Perfectly good empty jars are being thrown out for us to then immediately go out and buy a marketed jar an influencer said looked good once. We’re throwing away clothes to go and buy a load of new ones from a different ‘organic’ place, all while thinking we’re taking down fast fashion. Others are collecting menstrual cups like they’re handbags until they have a huge box of the bloody things (no pun intended) or getting rid of old sheets and flannels to go out and buy specially made makeup remover pads. JUST CUT UP THE SHEETS! Don’t even get me started on fancy travel cutlery sets—you have an entire draw of cutlery already. Even designer take away cups, a product I’ll admit I’ve 100% bought into, you could use one of the dozens of mugs at the back of your mug cupboard instead. Ball your tote bag inside it if you’re worried about it breaking.

My point is, it’s all good and well if you can afford all the designer eco thingamabobs. You do you, and honestly I don’t want to judge your spending habits, I’ve certainly paid good cash for eco marketed stuff myself. But there are ways of doing it cheaply by using what you already own. This is definitely a huge learning curve for me too. I was looking around for a new water bottle only a few weeks ago but now I’m impatiently waiting for a large glass sweet chill sauce bottle to be empty instead so I can use that—it’s the perfect size. I even have a little collection of empty jam jars and old spice containers to refill with new spices from the greengrocer when I have the cash.

In a time where it often seems as though you can only be passionate about the planet if you have copious amounts of disposable income, go on three holidays to Thailand every year, and do all your weekly shops at Waitrose, I suppose I just wanted to reassure us that’s not the case. Little steps really do add up. We’re all doing our best and that is more than okay.

Keep on swimming, my little avocados. Just be careful not to swallow any plastic bags on the way.

2 thoughts on “The Issue with Sustainability as a Middle-Class Fashion Trend

  1. Sandy says:

    Aw, I’m sorry this was your experience with the zero waste ‘online’ movement! Every blogger/youtuber I learned from (Bea Johnson, Sedona Christina, Heal Your Living, Kate Arnell) stressed how important upcycling, second lives and using what you already have is. They also encouraged me to take things slow and not get down on myself for being at the beginning of this journey, but rather go step by step. I try to stay away from companies bombarding you with slogans like Green/Sustainable/Eco Friendly etc. too – the best way for is always the simplest. There are some things I think are worth investing in (glass water bottles are sometimes not allowed so I’m getting a stainless steel one) but imo, very few of these are necessary. And it’s also perfectly okay to wait with getting any replacements and using plastic items you already have until they break, and you can afford the most sustainable option. That, and reducing your consumption, are the true values of sustainability, though I wish public reception would reflect this as well!


    • losttwentysomething says:

      Yeah, it’s not the movement itself I’m struggling with it’s the companies using it as a marketing buzzword and certain influencers pushing expensive brands all the time. And obviously some people do have money and there’s certainly worse things to spend it on than something that’ll reduce waste in the long run–especially if you lack the time to make stuff. I just get frustrated that it seems, in the marketing world I guess, that sustainability has become such a middle class thing. But hopefully it’ll trickle down. I’m certainly doing my best to reduce waste as much as possible.


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