I’m trying to live kinder, but…..

I’ve been trying to be kinder lately, in as many areas of my life as possible. While I believe this should be an innate thing, and I’d like to think it’s completely natural for me to be so, there are of course occasions where you lose your way, or simply get so bogged down with your own stuff you forget those little, and often easy things you can do to express kindness to others. I know at times, resentment, bitterness and jealousy has gotten the better of me in the past, but everyday I’m trying to make amends or check myself whenever I feel those emotions creep in and potentially effect my behaviour negatively. Like everything, it’s a work in progress.

Eating vegan means the mere ritual of consuming food three times a day (and all that snacking in-between) has become instantly kinder, and as a household we are ‘on it’ when it comes to recycling. Mainly thanks to my Dad who has OCD and is extremely thorough about the washing and sorting process of packaging, papers and empties.

But I have to admit I have a long way to go in terms of my overall lifestyle, and it does feel a bit overwhelming.

This statement lavender trench for Nasty Gal is vegan, and as you guys know I’ve been buying the Vegan Dr. Martens too, but I can’t pretend that I have any idea about the manufacturing process of the majority of the things I wear, nor the working condition of the people who created them.

As someone who’s on a budget, but who likes to upload regularly and feels a pressure to post ‘new in’ items to forge relationships with brands and increase the chance of a repost or share (which is essential to growth), I am not being as conscious and aware as I could be. I am buying from very affordable shops and websites, so not to bankrupt myself and to offer shopping inspo to others in a similar financial position, but if I’m honest I’m not doing thorough research into the ethics of these budget or high street stores. There usually has to be some repercussions of being able to sell products at an appealing and cost effective price tag. Could I be supporting a brand that takes advantage of the poor who will work anywhere however bad the conditions and lowly the pay just to get by? Could I be promoting a brand that sources their ingredient in an unethical way? The answers to both is, ‘Yes’, and ‘Probably.’

Recognising this recently I halted a review post I was writing – it’s still currently sitting in my drafts despite being all but finished. I sent an email saying I wanted to know how/where they sourced a particular ingredient to the beauty product, because my time at the Lush Summit taught me that it’s one that it’s one area of beauty that is plagued by child labour abuse, and the people that mine it are constantly jeopardising their health. They’re also working illegally meaning they only earn 45% of the amount others do in the legal working environments. So once i get a response I’ll amend my blog post accordingly.

But should I do this with every single product I buy, post, use? Undoubtedly it’d be very time consuming (and we know I’m already stretched), which would then have an effect on my work flow, but should we priorities things like that that ahead of ethics and safety of others? Probably not. But will we continue to do so. I fear it’s a yes.

An added complication is whether we are actually getting accurate answers when we choose to challenge or look for clarification on such matters. I’m constantly reading that bloggers have reached out to companies to ask about their ethics or where they stand in terms of cruelty free, to then be given the answer they want, only to find out later on that it wasn’t entirely true, or that they weren’t given the full story.

At the moment there is some marketing material going round for a hair product where they have vegan scribed on the advert, very clearly being used as a selling point for the product and to give the impression that they are a company functioning kindly. But the company aren’t actually cruelty free. So while the ingredients they’re using might not be sourced from animals or an animal by-product, they’re still allowing them to be tested in animals, which for sure doesn’t correspond well with the Vegan moral compass. To me this feels like false advertising, if not a blatant attempt to diceieve.

But I’m only aware of this because I follow some long time vegan bloggers who are super aware of this sort of misinformation, or who make the effort to investigate and then point it out to their followers. Till then I’d accepted it on face value, and thought ‘hooray, a product I can buy guilt free!.’ So what if you don’t have people in your circle drawing your attention to these companies that are offering less than truthful information? What if you aren’t aware that many are happy to sell and promote products that aren’t exactly what they appear to be. Blissful ignorance is the answer.

But how do we ever know when information is 100% truthful and accurate?  Everyone has a certain agenda. Even official bodies, Scientists, and other people or groups with impressive or respected titles, have been known to support and amplify fake news.

I guess we can just do our bit by trying. Trying to make time to do a little reading. Try and turn off that escapist trash TV every so often and use that time for a documentary instead (although they are often biast too). Be open to having discussions with others, most importantly people who have differing viewpoints. Try to have an open mind and accept that somethings that are true won’t be what you want to hear. It could be inconvenient and it could mean that you are wrong.

The everyday kindness to strangers thing is something I’ve been doing better at. I’ve been telling random people in shops they look nice in what they’re wearing and it’s so nice to know you’ve made someone feel nice. As Phoebe in Friend’s said there’s no such things as selfless good deed, of course it makes you feel warm and fuzzy to make someone smile . I’ll hold the door open for people and offer to help a mum with their buggy, but again, this is just simple manners in a lot of cases. I helped a lady with her trolly in the supermarket the other day. But the one thing from these sorts of interactions that makes me sad is the surprise on people’s faces, like it’s not a very normal thing to do. The amount of times a shop assistant or waiter/waitress looks shocked when I actually ask how their day is going is actually quite depressing.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s days after a particularly ghastly commute when I look like I have something very stinky under my nose and like I might be about to commit murder. But on an average day I am trying to make those small interactions as pleasant as they can be, it’s amazing what something as simple as smiling can do. Saying ‘thank you’, or ‘have a nice day’. It’s not hard, but when we’re pissed off, tired or aggravated, it’s often these people that get our gruffness, but we must remember there’s going to me multiple versions of us doing the same thing to them throughout their working day. When I’m feeling anxious I admittedly find this all a lot harder, because sometimes my demeanour is more cold and stand-offish as a result, but I’m going to at least try and remind myself that this can make a difference to someone.

In terms of my online behaviour I have been trying to leave comments more often and especially on sponsored posts, or ones that tell me that person needs reassurance, or a visual reminder that people care. I know  even one liners perk me up on a day when I’m a bit down . It certainly helps a lot in terms of work too, I don’t think people realise how stressful it can be when you upload a sponsored post (or a post you need to do well) and it’s getting no love. I’m also trying to respond to as many DM’s as possible, although it can be hard to keep up with all that we have to juggle social media wise these days.

One thing that is often referred to as a kind act is the online shout-out.  I get that it’s lovely to celebrate others and share the love, but I’m not quite comfortable with doing it knowing how it could make those who aren’t shouted out feel. I know, I overthink things because I apply my own sensitivity to things and presume others feel the same, but I just know I’d hate ANYONE to feel left out, forgotten, under appreciated or un-cool. I feel like everyone has their unique qualities, and on the whole everyone is trying their best, so I want EVERYONE to feel supported, cherished and acknowledged I guess. I don’t know how you can ensure that but I guess that’s more important to me. I’d much rather send a private DM to them to let them know I think they’re great, than publicly list my ‘faves’ or ‘inspirations’ and make others feel less than as a result. I think this is just a ‘me’ thing and I probably being silly. I have to acknowledge how lovely it does feel when someone gives you a mention, and it certainly helps you to grow, and goodness knows I need all the help I can get in that department. I think I need to work out a way that will sit well with me and my tendency to worry too much about negative impacts.

In terms of kindness in my relationship. For the moment I guess it’s about putting up with certain things, knowing that Si is stressed out and under pressure. Just breathing and letting things go of snappy moments that at another point I may have made more of a deal of. It’s about being that rigid support, offering regular reassurance, and even giving lengthy back scratches when I’m tired, even though I know think I’m owed around 1,000 foot rubs before getting close to evening up the tally. It’s about taking the Nomads Instagram photos and helping with the side of the business I know I can make a difference with, despite it meaning I have less time for my own stuff.

Like I said from the off, this is a work in progress and there’s LOADS more I could be doing, small and large scale. I don’t want to pretend to be one of these ‘woke’ people who are living perfectly and soundly, when the reality is that I’m still way off.

But as I get older I’m just becoming less comfortable with the out of sight out of mind way of thinking. It just doesn’t feel good enough. But I’m always still conflicted and distracted by my own needs, wants and ambitions, so I feel my route to improved kindness will likely be a bit of a battle. I think that’s ok to admit. I think being honest with myself will more likely lead to viable solutions to make my changes sustainable, and  I’ve always thought its important to just try to be better.

I also need to be kinder to myself. I’m not talking about self care, although that’s important and necessary, I mean about my past and all the times I got it wrong. I’ve done things that equipped with the information I have now, make me feel like a dreadful human, and I beat myself up about it. But back then I was just ignorant or less focused on finding or listening to the truth. For instance when I went to Thailand for a friends wedding we went to an Elephant Sanctuary, we even rode them. I now realise I didn’t put in any effort to research whether these animals were being looked after properly, or whether they were just being exploited for tourism. In a few years time I’ll probably look back on something I’m doing or consuming now and wonder what the hell I was thinking, or how I could be so clueless. Although it’s helpful to recognise mistakes or ill informed decisions, wasting energy of self bashing isn’t going to help anyone!

So let’s be kind in the comments, by sharing and informing each other. Tell me about the kind acts you carry out, the big or the grand. How do you ensure you shop with kindness in mind? How do you maintain kindness when struggling with your mental health or negative thoughts?Are there time when you’ve failed to be your kindest self that haunt you? What kind acts that people do for you make a huge different to your day/life? Where you you source reliable information that helps your lifestyle to be as kind as possible? etc etc…..

The outfit. 

This Nasty Gal trench is very lightweight. It’s more of a duster coat, so don’t buy it if you’re looking for any kind of warmth. It’s a faux suede so it’s also not ideal for wet weather. However the colour is so beautiful it makes any plain or run of the mill outfit incredibly striking and I love how it flows in the city wind.

I teamed with my Sacred Hawk animal print hat to add a bit of fun to the look. If you’re a bit fearful of the Pat Butcher effect an accessory is a great way to introduce a print.

I wanted to let these two statement pieces do the talking, so I just teamed with an old white polo and some old Topshop jeans. I had sent these to the loft for a couple years because this kinda lose straight leg fit wasn’t in for a while, but now it’s back I thought I’d resurrect them.

Photos by Kaye Ford

1 Comment

  1. March 30, 2018 / 10:32 am

    I love this look Sophie. The colour of the trench suits you so well.
    I was really interested to read your conflicts about shopping because I am exactly the same. It’s so hard to know ways to stay up to date and modern without subsidising the fast fashion industry and all the environmental/ethical damage it does. I’m definitely not perfect and it’s difficult to change that ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mindset but I am trying to buy secondhand more often when I can, trying to avoid huge high street chains if possible and be kinder and more mindful of the ways I use my money. I’m vegetarian, and I try to live as much of a dairy free lifestyle as possible (dairy doesn’t agree with my IBS!) but I’m not 100% vegan, although I have looked in to ways I can become more so. I also try and support cruelty free and vegan brands where possible. Like you allude to though, it’s a minefield out there! I suppose all we can do is our best, and not punish ourselves for percieved failings. Great thought-provoking post x

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