A few months ago I found myself 900km from home in late winter with 1 pair of jeans, a singlet, 1 pair of undies and a light cardigan, with no foreseeable timeframe for how long I was going to be away. Nor did I have any idea how or when I would be able to leave the hospital for long enough to acquire a change of undies…
Let me explain. My husband was away visiting friends when he suffered a nasty head injury. Upon getting the phone call from the hospital, I rapidly packed a bag, stuffed my 13month old daughter into the car and immediately embarked upon a 1200km journey, first to the ICU of the regional hospital in which he was originally held, then to the neurological ward of one of Perth’s major hospitals.
Despite my good intentions in packing a bag, I realised upon arrival at our hotel (2am may I add) that my beloved daughter had taken it upon herself to unpack the bag, leaving most of our clothes on the bedroom floor. In my haste to get going, I simply hadn’t noticed.
The next day was a blur after getting to the second hospital at 4am in time to meet the Royal Flying Doctor Service flight, shuffling through ED, theatre and finally finding our new home on the neurological ward. By 6pm I still didn’t have a change of undies.
My lovely Mum had driven 300km from her home in regional WA to support us and along the way she had picked up new clothes for both my daughter and I. Upon seeing the fresh clothes, I almost wept with gratitude.
However, it raised a bit of a dilemma for me. Yes, I was incredibly grateful to Mum for her support, and her shopping but our purchasing philosophies are very different. As a result, I now had an assortment of lovely new clothes that were purchased with the best of intentions but had undoubtedly been produced under the type of labour and environmental conditions that I try my best not to support.
What’s a girl to do in this scenario?
For me, the answer was glaringly obvious. One, because I needed the clean undies, but mainly because my Mum had gone to so much effort to care for us in our time of need. It would have been downright horrible and rude to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’.
So now I have a few additional items in my wardrobe that I wouldn’t necessarily have purchased for myself. For a while I felt guilty about it. But I’ve now come to realise that it’s ok.
The reason for telling you this? (Trust me, I don’t normally talk about my undies on the internet)
Sometimes we may fall off the wagon in our efforts to live more sustainable lifestyles. Yes, it sucks and yes, you may be temporarily disheartened. However, unless you channel your inner Thoreau and make for the woods, it’s likely that from time to time, you will make purchasing decisions or receive gifts that you won’t be entirely happy with. Don’t waste time fretting over it.
Remember that everyday offers you an opportunity to act in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Remember that even the process of being unhappy with a purchasing decision is a POSITIVE and will help you to grow as an ethical and responsible consumer. Learn from the experience and move on.
Have you purchased something and later realised that it didn’t fit with your values?