If you thought oil spills and global warming was bad, imagine how toxic the fashion industry is to our environment. Yeah, you read that right. And it’s not just about chemical waste or sustainability, but compromised ethics in human labor too.
Read the tag of any garment. Usually, it will say, “Made in China,” or it might say the name of a developing country where labor isn’t so expensive. You might be leaving your office a bit early to check out Forever 21’s new collection, but when was the last time you stopped to think why you’re buying something hundreds of girls can own too? And why is it so easily available? Is anything original anymore?
— Business of Fashion (@BoF) September 19, 2017
Welcome to the ever-growing world of fast fashion, where everything under the sun seems like a blur, with fashion being duplicated and sold at retailers worldwide and every girl wearing an iteration of the same thing. When you think about shops like Zara and Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, or even H&M, you wouldn’t think twice about eliminating them from your shopping list. The only issue is they produce thousands of copies of the same article of clothing, for an insanely low cost to the blue-collar worker behind the scenes. The labor that happens at the “sweatshops” are real, and workers are cutting their paychecks, working weekends, and even risking their health to produce that shirt you’re wearing right now, the same one thousands of other girls own.
FAST FASHION IS CREATING AN ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS. We saw vendors sellings second-hand imported clothes in some of… https://t.co/hpY3QAm0wC
— Anne E. Timms (@Impactorist) September 18, 2017
Onegreenplanet said a pair of jeans consumes 1,800 gallons of water, which would be thrown out anyway with the fast fashion problem we’re facing. A river in Uzbekistan had completely dried up from the water taken to make cotton shirts. Although this problem may not be as bad as the plastic contamination on earth, we are facing toxic wastes from the lead content in belts and shoes your favorite retailer sells. If you’re wondering what you can do to help, or if there even is a way out of this mess, it is to be a conscious shopper.
Mastercard started an initiative called “Purchase with a Purpose.” Through the program, you can give the underprivileged a chance to learn a skill, power through higher studies, raise awareness of health issues, and support environmental protection, whenever you use your card. More than 70 percent of consumers in Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Thailand, India and the Philippines said they calculated whether a product is a fair trade, environmentally friendly or a portion of its proceeds was donated to charity when shopping. These are the so-called underdeveloped countries that are already evolving with ethical shopping!
— Lisa Kiss (@lisamariekiss) September 18, 2017
Although seeing a change might be far-fetched at the moment, we can make better shopping choices. Based on my personal preferences and shopping habits, I’ve come up with some ideas that may work for eco-friendly shopping, or for the average shopaholic like myself.
- Just like you analyze the ingredients in the food you consume, find out what chemicals/fabrics are used in your closet. This might seem tedious, so shopping from a retailer you trust, that specializes in sustainable fashion, might benefit.
- You should also be checking the background of the clothes you wear. Find out where it’s been made, and how. You might be surprised how many kids have made half the clothes in your closet!
- Shop less. Yes, it might be difficult at first, but possible.
- Who doesn’t love collecting vintage items, or rummaging thru the thrift store aisles? Turns out hunting for these special pieces is great for the environment too.
- Another fashion tip to follow is investing in small business designers or independent designers. They work hard in hopes of finding loyal customers, so a stable relationship with them leaves you with a good rapport, and it’s great for everyone.
With conscious shopping, we can defend the rights of the poor and needy that have been neglected in the factories of fast fashion, just by tweaking a few minor shopping habits we all have been accustomed to.
Featured image via Pixabay