I appreciate Ephrat Livni’s perspective in this piece for Quartz.
It boils down to this:
There isn’t a simple answer to complex questions, but the ethical approach is to engage with the difficulties rather than avoiding them.
The piece digs into the fallacies behind a lot of modern thinking around “conscious consumerism”, and how those gestures may ultimately be less impactful than we think.
Put simply, the choice isn’t between silk, cotton, or synthetics. For environmental purposes, we should choose nothing.
It’s harder, but if we care about making a difference instead of just making ourselves feel better, we need to do the research to find out what we can do to actually move the needle.
Moreover, capitalism and all systems are bigger than us individuals. By virtue of accidents of birth, we find ourselves unfairly profiting from all kinds of inequalities, depending on where we are born, who our parents are, our racial or ethnic backgrounds, and more. Your passport determines more than just access—it means you are the beneficiary, albeit abstractly, of actions you may not approve. Most of us, wherever we live, are funding wars or policies we disagree with. We can’t help but do wrong.