In a world where quantity reigns over quality (I’m talking the most friends, followers, lovers), fast fashion is creating a divide in personal style and adding to an already insecure generation. Not to mention, the rapid production of clothing at almost illegal labor costs, is majorly adding to pollution.
When one thinks of recycling, what most comes to mind are cans and bottles. Shockingly, clothing can be recycled as well (see H&M’s campaign). Unfortunately, even if you do recycle your clothes, the climate change backlash is exponential. The demand for cheap clothing has gone up in the past years as social media can introduce a new concept every day. This demand causes people to recycle old clothes, give them to Goodwill or just throw them out to make room for new. Any path you choose for these old clothes will likely have dire consequences for the environment.
Most likely, the vehicle used to transport your clothing to wherever it is being recycled, repurposed or thrown away, will be unethical and adding CO2 to our environment. And who exactly made all the clothes you just recycled? Most factories in China (or even the US, to be quite frank) are run by coal and make up 10% of the carbon emissions worldwide. But they’re giving sustainable jobs to women right? Wrong. Although the fashion industry employs more women than any other, less than 2% of those women earn a living wage. And sustainable agriculture surrounding these factories? Forget it. Factories openly pollute nearby water from toxic run off.
All this information is quite a lot to take in, but I’m here to help. When you go shopping for the new school year, summertime or a winter coat, do a bit of research before you buy; try to have some knowledge about the company’s ethics so you know exactly what your money is supporting. Unfortunately for your wallet, the more expensive an article of clothing is, the more likely it was ethically made. Purchasing a shirt for under $20, jeans for under $50 or shoes for under $75 certainly means the person making the clothing wasn’t paid enough.
If you’re like me and can’t bring yourself to purchase expensive clothing, go thrifting! To thrift is to recycle; wearing something that lived a full life already but looks next to new is thrilling in a way. If done right and kept for more than a year, expensive or thrifted clothing has way less of a chance of being unethically made or thrown away. How awesome is supporting a healthy environment for all through clothing purchases?
Enforcing a new standard of shopping while also decreasing insecurity makes us better people all around. More attention spent while buying clothes = better fit and sustainability = less options in the morning = less anxiety all around. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.