Monday, August 12, 2019

Ethics x Fast fashion part 1

“Fashion fades, style is eternal” – Yves Saint Laurent.

Let me just start by saying: I’m not the most environmentally conscious person on the planet - I’ve been doing my part and we try to be as conscious as we can in our household.
I’m just a girl educating myself about where my clothes are coming from and how it’s effecting our world by way of my quest to an edited closet.
I’ve touched on the subject of fast fashion in a few posts but I haven’t really laid out the full story. I typically don’t like to speak on things that I am not well versed and educated in - but this is a subject I have found myself deep diving into as of lately and I have learned a lot.

We all know that ‘big oil’ and car pollution are some of the highest contributors to pollution because, well, everyone is talking about it. But I’ve heard so little about fast fashion’s contribution (which is a lot) until recently. We all love to shop, so I think it’s about time this comes up in conversation more often - and more than just throwing trendy words like sustainable and ethical around - let’s actually talk about what those mean. 

Ethical fashion is a blanket term that encompasses design, production etc. It covers the ethics of working conditions, the exploitation of workers, sustainable production methods - basically the welfare of everyone that is effected.

Sustainable fashion is about producing clothes/accessories/shoes/etc in a sustainable and environmentally conscious way. This also covers sustainable shopping practices regarding consumption and use. 

When thinking of ‘fast fashion’ as a whole, the concerns that come to mind are: labor conditions, quality, environmental impact, sustainability, overconsumption and the massive amounts of water/resources used for the mass production of clothes you wear for a month and then toss aside. (Not even touching on the fact that we are raising up this next generation to have an insatiable need for new and more, which is setting them up for a life of being unfulfilled and discontent). 

According to recent studies, Americans are purchasing (at least) FIVE TIMES the amount of clothing we did 30 years ago. Because of this, more and more garments are being produced each year, which in turn, results in more items being discarded a year (i.e. trends from years gone past).

This brings us back to the topic of overconsumption. I’m going to break it down for you: We like clothes. Fast-fashion companies know this. They import the trends you want at a fraction of the cost, with a fraction of the quality and promote the heck out of them. We see ads. We buy. New trends come out. Old clothes fall apart (see quality). We toss. We buy again and the loop continues. 

We are living with an unquenchable thirst for new and more and what she has and we have no idea of the implications (while big box companies rack in the money because we are never satisfied). This thought process of discontentment is poison for your heart and for your wallet. 

If you’re still reading, I’m grateful. I have probably / hopefully scared you away from the clutches of these stores (you know the ones, I don't need to list them out for you. you probably have about 5 emails from them saying "NEW NEW NEW!) and you’re feeling empowered, thinking : ‘I’LL NEVER SHOP THERE AGAIN’ - only to come down from that high of knowledge, questioning where you’re going to get an outfit for that thing you have to go to next week (because that’s how we’re conditioned to think these days). 

I’m not saying you have to quit cold turkey and I know that quitting fast fashion doesn’t reward you with an increased shopping budget to afford some of the pricier, more ethical choices — but we can be more conscious of who we are giving our money to. While some of these stores had good intentions of bringing what seemed like unattainable, luxurious fashion to the masses — the enormous demand lead to cheaper quality, unethical labor conditions and they didn’t stop it. 

  Quality clothing is more expensive, I won’t lie to you, but they are also long term investments (in contrast to the sweater you wore once, only for it to fall apart after the first wash). You’re spending more money at one time, but less money overall because that piece you bought will last five times longer (probably more, I’m no mathematician). We have to change the way we’re thinking about clothes and the money we spend on them. Invest now, buy less, save more. 

A lot of sustainable and ethical brands are coming out of the woodworks and giving us some insight as to how they are striving to change this environment while still producing clothes that you want to wear and that will last. 

These two themes must coexist because as important as the rise of ethical fashion is, brands have to be appealing in their aesthetic as well as their ethics. That's just the world we're living in. 

Other stores that might not necessarily be sustainable are working to provide options that help make sustainability possible within their brand. They’re providing recycling programs that will allow the disposal of garments to be repurposed either into other garments or things like insulation (see: Madewell’s recycling program. Also noted that Reformation has a recycling program as well).

At the very end of the day, switching to an intentional lifestyle is hard (and can be expensive!). Sometimes you mess up, sometimes you feel guilty, but knowing there’s some grace and wiggle room as you transition is so important. It’s a slow process, so rest in that and know that any step toward a more intentional and sustainable lifestyle is worth celebrating -- the biggest hurdle is the first step! And slowing down is part of the larger point - slower, more thoughtful, living with less and loving what you have more. 

Feeling put together and elegant does wonders on the psyche and knowing where your clothes come from and how they’re made is even better. Icing on the cake, if you will. You can love clothes and learn about where and how the clothes are made. 

This year I plan to dive in deeper in our journey to a more sustainable life and continue to be thoughtful and mindful of where my money is going. Less things. Less Instagram and less wanting what others have. We are cultivating contentment and a slower pace in our household this year and challenge you to do the same. 


1 comment :

  1. Wow!Thank you Savannah,this really gives me something to think about.


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