I have set A LOT of goals for myself this year. I try to be pretty realistic and only focus on things I know are in my grasp and will challenge, rather than overwhelm me (which can happen OH SO easily if you’re not careful).
However, the biggest challenge I am facing of all this year is my BREAK UP WITH FAST FASHION. What is “fast fashion”, you ask? This refers to quick and cheaply made fashions that reflect the trends found on the runway. These clothes are made with haste and are actually MEANT to fall apart quickly. Why break up with this incredible new phenomenon that allows you to look super-cool for super-cheap, you ask? Well, there are a list of reasons I have behind this decision, falling (albeit, broadly) into the two categories of: ENVIRONMENTAL and FINANCIAL.
Environmentally speaking, we can thank the fashion industry for the world’s second largest pollution-contribution. Not only are we polluting our planet by way of the absolutely excessive use of fuel needed to manufacture and ship cheap materials around the world and back but we are also filling our landfills to the brim with clothing refuse. This waste can be problematic for a number of reasons including the tainting impact these cheaply made textiles can have on the earth and water that literally surround them.
This incredible amount of WASTE is what brings me to the financial side of things. It may seem counterintuitive for someone to spend more on clothing to save money but when you consider how frequently you shop at these places, you’re not really saving any money at all. You just have to shift your mindset and be ok with the ol’ “quality over quantity” mantra because it is SO real, my friends. Like any business the purpose behind “fast fashion” is to make money and I can’t blame anyone for that. But… when you are knowingly producing LOW quality garments so the turnover and return rate of consumers grows larger and larger and more frequent – that’s when I have to open my eyes and take a step back.
So I have decided to resist the urge and break up entirely with buying new FAST FASHIONS and I encourage anyone who stumbles upon this to go ahead and educate themselves as well. As it is I already try to buy a lot of second hand clothing, even from labels that provide “fast fashion” and because I care for my clothing I have made them last a good while. But even with all the tender care I provide I can still see the drastic decline as opposed to my better pieces and that is nothing compared to the weight of the carbon footprint the industry leaves as a whole.
So what can we do? By all means PLEASE keep buying second-hand even if it is from places like Zara, H&M or F21 because we need to do all we can to keep this stuff out of landfills. Do your part for our earth by caring for your garments, repurposing them, donating them, ANYTHING you can do to eliminate waste. Challenge yourself to start thinking of clothing differently – try imagining of all those adorable used dresses out there like a million tiny kittens in need of new homes! Or if you want to buy new, invest in more ethically conscious retailers and designers who will give you QUALITY pieces you can wear for years to come. This is only one more reason in a long, long list of reasons that vintage has captured my heart.
Realistically, it’s becoming more and more difficult to avoid environmental and ethically challenging consumption in today’s world, but with baby steps I have hope that we can begin to make a positive impact. Like Ed Norton says in one of my very favorite movies, “You can’t change the world, but you can make a dent.” – Death to Smoochy (2002). Thanks Shelton.
Here is a great article on the dangers of fast fashion that I have found particularly insightful: http://ecowatch.com/2015/08/17/fast-fashion-second-dirtiest-industry/