Reduce, reuse, recycle: the mantra of the preachy “environmentalists” in their earthy get-up and ever-so-slightly self-righteous gaze. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate their efforts and their commitment to Mother Earth. I am a strong believer in forming my opinions based on well-researched evidence, and a minimal amount of research into the true causes of our world’s issues led me to a well, so deep and hidden, that everyone is falling right into it. In truth, the number two pollutant of the flowing rivers and evergreen forests (right behind oil) is the fashion industry.
The thing about the current fashion industry (depending on your customer base, we’ll assume the average person residing in a developed country) is that the trends are constantly changing and the popular stores have to meet those trends to stay popular. Translation: produce tons of clothing for an incredibly cheap price so that if the trend suddenly disappears, you don’t face a huge deficit. That sounds like a great idea for profit, so the only problem is finding a way to make clothing so that it’s actually cheap.
Photo: The Guardian
While most people don’t condone the idea of a sweatshop, many don’t understand that almost all of the clothing an average American buys was made by a person, usually a woman, in an uncomfortably hot room filled with other people. This person has no workers’ benefits and no say in how much they’re paid, which is very little (let’s not even get into the pollution and filth it pours into the environment: do your own research). If they protest against anything, from wages to working conditions, they are fired with the promise that there is someone who wants their job more (a chilling thought reminiscent of early 1900s America). We can blame the industry and the big businesses like Forever 21 and American Apparel (some of the worst) for cutting corners and being generally shady as fuck, but ultimately they are just trying to achieve what every business is trying to achieve: profit. It comes down to our responsibility as a consumer to purchase things that are responsible and ethical, and that requires an entire culture shift.
Photo: Made in America Movement
There are an incredible amount of businesses that make ethical clothing, but the only problem is that their prices are significantly more costly than what we’re used to. This is because all of their clothing is handmade and ethical, from the fabric to the dye to the price of labor. Our culture is one of consumption, and celebrities are often mocked for wearing the same thing twice. I suggest something entirely opposite. Even if you continue to shop at Forever 21 and Walmart for now, truly consider your purchases. Would you wear that shirt 30 or 40 times? And how much would you be willing to pay for a shirt that you wear 30 or 40 times? I’m okay with buying a quality, $40 dollar shirt if it was ethically made and sustainable because I’m going to wear that shirt for at least the next two years. I can guarantee (from personal experience) that this is a life-changing concept. I love all of my clothing. I wear it all. Everything I choose to adorn myself in is a representation of me and I feel like I am truly who I am in all of it.
Turning to ethical fashion does not limit your options, even though it will feel like it at first. Do your research (there are several documentaries on Netflix) and think about exactly what you want to put on your body because every choice you make has an impact on the world.
Author: Bella Sloane – BellaSloane@live.com