I have always been convinced that revolution starts from individuals. The union of individual acts can make a difference.
A few months ago I came across an extraordinary documentary “The True Cost”, currently on Netflix. Over the years I have been interested in this subject I read books about it. I started to follow bloggers who analyze the relationship between consumerism, garment workers and the environment. I getting know independent reality that are trying to break this cycle. But just lately all this information have had a real impact on my daily life.
This documentary in particular, has significantly changed the way I live and perceive fashion. I am a woman like many others who loves fashion with a bit of shopping addiction .
But the more I learned, the more I felt that fashion directly collided with my values. From an environmental perspective, the cycle of consumption and waste generated by fashion’s churn taxes an already-strained climate. On the human dimension, clothes are often manufactured in developing countries that lack sufficient labor laws to ensure that workers receive fair pay and work under safe conditions.
The fashion industry is the second most dangerous industry for environment and human life after oil. The fast – fashion in particular, with the birth of giant brand such as H & M, has developed a new trend. In my daily life I have noticed that I used to purchased and immoderate number of cheap things of very low quality that I don’t even need. This kind of production is literally destroying the population of the southern-east Asia countries.
The production of cotton for example is one of the most harmful. The farmers are not being able to wait for the natural process of plant flowering, responding the constant demand for cotton from the market. The fields are constantly watered with pesticides, as well as contaminating the water and the land, they cause health problems to the entire population of neighboring areas . In south India every small village have more then 60 children with mental and physical disability, directly related to the huge amounts of pesticides in the water. ( http://frame.bloglovin.com/?post=4841934112&group=0&frame_type=a&context=&context_ids=&feed_order=undefined&blog=5083095&frame=1&click=0&user=0 )
So I started doing a research to understand how to change my shopping habits.
Here’s a question: is it possible to be committed to social and environmental ideals and to love fashion? Does an extravagant pair of shoes put you at odds with your beliefs? Even worse, does it make you a hypocrite?
I explored different ways to keep my relationship with fashion, which often have failed. There was a period I stopped buying new clothes and only bought vintage or second-hand. Then, for a few months, I abandoned shopping altogether.Time passed, and these various experiments came and went. But instead of bringing me a greater sense of purpose, this separation from fashion felt like a sacrifice of an important part of my identity. Feeling perpetually conflicted about loving fashion had forced me into a no-win situation.
And that’s when I realized that perhaps I don’t have to choose at all.
Instead – the clothes I buy, the things I choose to wear -could be another way for me to put my beliefs into practice.
Consumption is a powerful act. We vote once every two years, but we spend money, in some form, almost every day.
So, instead of rejecting fashion, I decided to embrace it differently.
Sometimes, conversations on sustainability should not be exclusively limited to a single point of view. Of course, it is useful to understand the problems, but sustainability isn’t – and should not be – about one-size-fits-all. Be environmental friendly should not mean sacrificing style and choose to have gray-white hair, Birkenstock and horrible clothes.
The sustainability to make sense, must work simultaneously in your life. I have started a project and personal experiment on my own life. Hence the idea to turn my blog into a platform that can give women like me, useful tips on how to rethink the relationship with shopping and style.
Here are some behaviors that I have started to apply to make my consumption more conscious then before:
I started to slow down my relationship with fashion, I buy less and invest in timeless pieces.
One of the main reasons why my relationship with modern fashion is absolutely unsustainable, is that I’m buying too much stuff. The prices are so low that sometimes I don’t have to wonder if I really need or really love what I’m about to buy. The low prices may seem an advantage, but they have negative effects on both the environment (I buy more so I produce more garbage) and garments workers who make my clothes.
What I’ve started to change:
I set a reasonable period in which I limit my purchases.I skip my usual fast fashion destination of choice. (I Don’t even go in so I’m not tempted.) Meanwhile, I set my sights on a target investment buy, and save with said target in mind. At the end of my fast spend the money I’ve saved on something I’ll cherish for a long time to come, that I really like and need.
I support artisans, buy handmade.
Handcrafts are endangered all over the world as artisans can’t compete from a price standpoint with goods that are mass-produced. This has two adverse impacts: the loss of employment in artisan trades, and the threat that traditional crafts and techniques will be forgotten. Buying handmade doesn’t just support a process, it often gets you a better end product — one that is special, one that will last longer than its machine-made counterpart.
What I’ve started to change:
When I need something – a sweater, a beach bag, a silk scarf – I go online to find the hand made version. Etsy is one of many website, to search for handmade items from all around the world. One step further, would be support an artisan cooperative. In cooperatives, profits are distributed among the members, with additional training and empowerment initiatives in place to promote social and economic mobility.
I’ve found a tailor.
Our clothes have a life cycle. Over time they get worn at certain points. If I pay very little for a piece of clothing, I tent to throw it away or to donate my clothes when they had some wear and tear. In practice, this generates waste and leads us to buy more clothes. Philosophically, we become at risk of seeing our clothes as disposable. And any true fashion lover knows that clothes are anything but disposable.
What I’ve started to change:
Yelp allows me to find a tailor in my neighborhood. I try to buy only what I need and repair what I have (for example a blouse that I kept in the closet for months because it was missing a button). I noticed how quickly and economically something previously not usable, can be made perfectly wearable again. Then I switched to something more complicated such as a pair of pants that do not fit perfectly and a dress with wide waist. I saw the same clothes in a whole new light.
No matter how I start, I have noticed that the first step to be a more conscious fashion lover is curiosity, which involves cultivating an interest in where my clothing come from, where it goes when I no longer want it and who is impacted by the decision I make about what I wear.