Dairy, it turns out, is not nearly as dirty as the middle-class women.
I mean that in a purely environmental and ethical sense, by the way. I know it seems shocking, but when you crunch the numbers, test the rivers, and start interviewing people, it is difficult to avoid.
All 60 kilograms of me does more harm to the environment, and other humans, than a 450 kilogram cow.
I think the supermarkets know the secret dangers of middle-class women, and it is why they are phasing out plastic bags (hallelujah). It turns out people like me were going on turtle killing-sprees with those bags.
But I discovered the true depth of the middle-class horror story when I became an accidental member of a sort-of protest movement. One moment I was having a play date with another mum and child, the next I was elbow-deep in Tearfund’s Ethical Fashion Guide.
It was a horrendous document. It glossed over critical details and failed to explain core cultural contradictions. The problem was it still had a point.
No matter which way I looked at it, there were some things going on with my shoes, and jeans and tops that just weren’t right.
Now, do not be deceived as I was, into thinking ethical fashion is only relevant if you are fashionable. Do not think the word “ethical” is another meaningless modern phrase, it merely means moral.
In other words, ethical fashion could be called the “moral clothing movement”. You can no doubt see why the branding experts went the other way.
What it all boils down to is that the textile industry is the second biggest polluter on the planet, according to Forbes.
It’s right up there with petrochemicals, mining, recycling lead batteries and other toxic, dangerous things. You have to keep reading the list to eventually get to agriculture.
That means you and I are better off buying another latte than that lingerie if the environment is what we are worried about.
But it gets worse. Never, ever has a cow trapped another cow in a factory the light of day forgot and forced her to work like a slave.
But we have done that with our own sort. We women, whom Harvard claims make most of the purchasing decisions in a home, have turned a blind eye when base and horrid human beings have stolen vital documents from vulnerable people and so kept them contained like animals in airless, artless rooms to stitch up a skirt. Or a blouse.
All the while, of course, they’re docking pay for any breaks until the debt incurred outweighs the money earned for working.
Cows don’t do that sort of thing.
How they keep coming out of all this looking relatively clean, while we seem soiled, is a mystery to me. It ought to be the other way around. Dairy gets called dirty, middle-class women don’t (for environmental and ethical reasons anyway).
But the slogans don’t tell the full story. The simple fact is that average women just like me are literally littering the world with waste every time we whip out our wallets in a clothing store.
Well, not quite every clothing store. That’s what the Ethical Fashion Guide is about. It turns out some stores won’t buy things unless the people involved in production are cared for, as well as the places things are made in.
That’s the sort-of protest movement I joined. It doesn’t have marches, or placards, or any semblance of organisation at all. It’s full of ordinary, every-day people trying to do things a little differently where they can.
It’s as simple as swapping a plastic bag for a better one, or checking our own behaviour before we chuck all the blame on the bovine.
This article was first published on Stuff.co.nz