L ately, I have been thinking about fashion, shopping and the environment. Specifically I have been thinking about the impact "Fast Fashion" has on the environment. I recently watched the documentary Poverty Inc.wherein they discuss the negative impact of North American clothing consumption. The frequency with which we purchase, wear and discard mostly inexpensive, poorly-made items of clothing affects the local clothing market in countries like Kenya, where second hand clothes that are donated but not suitable to be sold in our local thrift shops is then sold in bulk for a very low cost to many "third world" countries. Watching this, I was dumbfounded. I had never really considered that my habit of buying cheap clothing, wearing it, and then donating the things I no longer wore could have such an impact on other people. I never thought my singular habit of running through this same cycle year after year could destroy the earth. But it isn’t just me, is it?
As always, I would love to hear from you, my readers, what are your thoughts on this topic? Please don't forget to subscribe by email (right sidebar) and follow on social media!
While researching information for this post, I came across another documentary called The True Cost exposes the dark side of the fashion industry, specifically who gains (rich brand CEOs), who loses (the garment workers, the people who live in factory cities, the planet, sometimes the consumer) and who is responsible for perpetuating this vicious cycle of disposable consumerism (marketing firms, You Tubers, print media, celebrities, and WE the people who are buying cheap clothing, wearing it only a handful times and then sending it on its way through the donation cycle.)
This is a fairly new topic to me (although I have encountered it over here and there over the last few years particularly when I was investigating minimalism) and it's a broad topic so I have decided to split this into a series of posts covering all aspects of this global problem. This is important because having discovered the horrible things my beloved fashion industry (once held such a sense of magic and whimsy for me) is doing to people and the planet is heartbreaking. As much as I would love to continue buying and consuming, as I have been, I am unable from an ethical and moral standpoint. I think about the women and men who work long hours sewing clothing in a hot, sometimes unsafe, factory; who are paid $3 a day with no benefits, no unions and no sick days; (pretty sure that we wouldn't stand for this treatment here in Canada) who are sewing thousands of garments a day so I can watch "haul" videos on You Tube or because "I have nothing to wear". I think about the earth and how the clothing industry is the second most polluting in the world. I think about the babies born with defects in places with dye from that pair of jeans I just had to have running through their drinking water and the people suffering and dying of cancer because they spray or harvest GMO cotton needed to spin the fabric for that next "must-have" trend. I think of my daughters and the shape the earth will be in when they have kids and when their kids have kids.
This is a new topic for me, although I have encountered it here and there over the last few years, particularly when I was researching minimalism. It's a broad topic so I have decided to write a series of posts covering all aspects of this global issue. There are options that are fashionable, sustainable and ethical, but you won't find them for $10 on the sale rack at your local fashion retailer. They are bound to be more costly because the companies are not buying the fabrics that are made from Polyester or GMO cotton. They are not outsourcing the manufacturing of garments to the factory in Bangladesh, which has the lowest cost per garment. They are not using dyes that pollute the earth and make people sick. They are not encouraging you to buy trendy and essentially disposable clothing.
I have been an offending consumer for many years -a self-proclaimed shopaholic of epic proportions - so I don't want to seem a hypocrite for delving into this realm of ethical fashion. Instead, I am admitting ignorance, as well as fault, and am hoping to make 2017 the year I make a change. This may not lead me down a prosperous path as a fashion blogger but I feel that, in the end, I am following my own path paved by many forward-thinking people. That, to me, makes all the difference.
(All information contained in this post was written by me based on the documentaries Poverty Inc. and The True Cost. Presently I have no other references but all future posts on this subject will be research-based information and will contain footnotes.)