Empowering Discussions

Fashionable Consumption Provides Jobs, Increases Opportunity by Turning People Into Slaves, and Destroys the Environment

It’s so fashionable to consume. Plus the experts say, it helps bring people out of poverty and helps developing countries grow. Of course we all know what that really means is give people(real humans with the capacity to feel, learn, and be loved) a chance to make some money in horrible working conditions while simultaneously turning resources from our planet(this place we depend on for life) into trash that fills up landfills.

Since when did fashion become a $5 tank top and $30 designer jeans that are thrown out for next years $4 tank top and $25 jeans? When did clothing stop becoming something functional and beautiful into something we so easily discard? When did the quantity become more important than quality?

Sustainable.Fashion.2013I get it! My career plans after High School were to graduate with a Fashion Design degree and become a famous fashionista who traveled the world, went to amazing parties, and of course gave part of my vast riches to those less lucky. It didn’t take long for me to decide I didn’t want to be a part of an industry that was so superficial, that turned women into skeletal beings, that was  not sustainable because it created several tons of pollution and waste, and that generally encouraged a culture of “buy this”, but only wear it for 6 months so that you can get something trendier.  If you don’t look as good on the outside you will never be happy.

There is so much that goes into the making of each piece of clothing. Material usually is gown(except for chemically produced materials), harvested, turned into fabric, sent to a factory for production, sent to  warehouse, sent to a store, and then bought by us.  That’s pretty intense when you think about how much work went into making the shirt, pants, underclothes, and shoes you are wearing at this moment. One useful thing I did learn from my fashionable education was how to make my own clothes.  So if needed I can cut that line out of the supply chain for clothing, but I don’t know how to turn cotton off a bush into fabric so I am not completely able to bypass the system for what I wear.

Over the years I have lost my appetite for so badly needing pretty shiny things and stopped shopping to be happy. I’m not crazy,  I still love fashion, but as a form of self-expression, not as a tool of conformity. My first action of change is to buy used and fair trade. When I do shop, which is rarely, you will find me at the local bazaar featuring local designers, second-hand shops or vintage boutiques, and even the down and out thrift stores searching for hidden treasures.  It’s still consumption, but I am either supporting smaller handmade or fair trade designers or skipping the mass production assembly line and environmental impact for a new item of clothing.  I still buy a few things new each year, but part of that is it’s hard to find really good second-hand shoes for size 11.5 feet!

My second action for change is to decrease my consumption. By shopping less, which was very hard to do as shopping for fun had become a hard earned habit,  I am even less involved in supporting a system of mass production at the expense of people and the planet. It started with not having enough money for lots of clothes. It has turned into a way of life. It’s not just fashion. I buy less packaged food, carry my reusable coffee cup,  and alert my favorite brands that I want less consumption.

If you are tired of unfashionable consumption you can change it by changing your habits.

1. Buy refurbished and used products so they are diverted from the landfill.

2. Look for food and products with minimal packaging to reduce your waste.

3. Buy sustainable. Is your food organic or pesticide-free? Are you buying post consumer recycled paper?

4. Find a local repair shop for appliances, watches, computers, etc. How about having your furniture refurbished or painted? Do you really need to buy new or can you upgrade or fix what you have?

By just taking those 4 steps you can drastically reduce your consumption and become a role model to those around you.

The Fair Wear Foundation is working to find solutions for a healthier system of how our clothes and other products are made. FairWear.Org

On the production side People Tree is using fair prices with factories that even offer daycare to their workers. PeopleTree.Co.Uk

It’s comforting knowing I am not the only person interested in changing how the world consumes.



6 thoughts on “Fashionable Consumption Provides Jobs, Increases Opportunity by Turning People Into Slaves, and Destroys the Environment”

  1. Thank you. Material consumption was such a large part of my life for so long that it feel odd to be in this mind set now. It’s an amazing, yet uncomfortable experience.


  2. A truly excellent post. So sobering, those videos.

    I took my son to the Boxing Day sales because him & his mates had Christmas money & wanted to get stuff. I stayed in the car in the car park with my computer & reading, because I just did not want to go int there. I needed to go to the toilet at one stage, left the car, then saw the crowds, the shopping bags, the overfull of so many people, and it simply repulsed me, and I went back to the car.

    This is just a great post.


  3. Ha! You most likely will. Or you could just super glue the fabric together and see how that works. One day they will make soft staples and I can just staple my clothes together.
    Thanks for the comment. I used to LOVE malls, but now if I go in, I immediately want to be leave. There’s too much stuff. It’s overwhelming.


  4. I wanted to be a fashion designer at one time also. I hated sewing with the detail that would require me to be great and I also wanted to do something more purposeful. I can’t say that I have in the way I wanted with a great amount of consistency but I have made my contributions. When I shop now, which is seldom, I often think “Why do folk need all these clothes?” So, I’m in the process of trying to figure out where to take the ones I no longer wear because I tend to give to folk in need, not places to resell them. I also may re-purpose some for art or a quilt but the latter part will require me to sew, right? 🙂


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