By Isabella Suruthi,
Here I am, at a café on Vulcan Lane with my $7 iced coffee. And as I sit, I can’t help but wonder this one certain thing. Was the $196.12 worth the so-called ‘drip,’ or had I just unequivocally contributed to the crisis of mass consumption responsible for the collapse of the environment?
No matter how many times I tell myself to switch my ways of purchasing to a more sustainable approach, the same cycle repeats itself. I store a mental note to organise a thrift sesh with the pals, but my habits never change. I catch myself spending money at manufacturers whose labels carry no recollection of where it was sourced.
I ask myself, why am I so attached to this toxic relationship with my clothes and my wallet?
Guilt begins to cloud my head as I refresh the ASB banking app, dumbfounded as to how could I have done this again? How have I managed to:
- Contribute to the decline in environmental sustainability? And,
- Gone broke doing it?
Sound familiar? There’s this mix of guilt from spending too much on a variety of clothing, all to look good for the Instagram account, whilst knowing those purchases is from a company that is exploiting its workers and preventing the planet from breathing.
When I put it like this, you may start thinking:
“She’s just being dramatic.”
And you may think this while looking down and clutching at your unethically sourced mom jeans, because you feel the guilt too.
I’ve realised that we can’t feel guilty, and then choose to ignore this feeling and carry on as we are.
We as consumers contribute to the problem that is known as mass consumption through our spending habits and our addiction to the ‘consumer lifestyle’ (mass spending of assets that results in disposal of goods that are like new).
The consumer lifestyle is dangled in our face in every aspect of life and taught to us before we’re even out of the womb as our mothers get showered in unnecessary gifts at their baby shower. It is taught to us by our parents, billboards, advertising, social media and that one clothing website that is continuously offering 50% off.
However, as much as we are the problem, we are also the solution.
Facing The Facts:
To ease the blame, we’ve all experienced that ‘holy crap’ feeling, and if not yet, well then you can count your blessings that you came across this because today my friends, you’ve just been saved.
Not only are we going to discuss the issue at large, but we are also going to intervene and promote the positive impact that is much needed in the fashion industry.
R. Rathinamoorthy, (Fashion Scholar and co-editor) of “Sustainable Fashion: Consumer awareness and education”, describes the current situation of the textile industry as the ‘second most polluting industry in the world.’ Statistics state that the ‘Fashion World’ contributes to more greenhouse gas emissions than goods transportation services. This exacerbates our human involvement in creating a larger carbon footprint.
However, before jumping straight into the world impacts the fashion industry has, it’s important to recognize our individual part in this.
Firstly, what is mass consumption? It’s the impulse buy we do when we see that floral dress for 60% off. It’s the little ‘Add to cart’ button we click when the day was not it and retail therapy is a must.
However, the economically recognised term ‘mass consumption’ begins with fast fashion. Fast fashion is defined as the ‘concept that motivates manufacturers to produce the clothing in mass quantities and encourage overconsumption.’
Fast fashion is obsessed with trends, bringing out hundreds of designs every single day to sink our teeth into. It then motivates (us) consumers to purchase clothing frequently by ensuring the disposal of the previous purchase, clearing our closet space for new collections that come out. Though we may not ultimately purchase clothing every season, our mindset surrounding our fashion choices grooms us to believe that we need to spend. Subconsciously we say that we need that jacket, we need that new floral dress, we need to be constantly filling up our closets to live a ‘good’ and ‘luxurious’ lifestyle, which is never true.
How can we help?
My role as a Greenstyle writer is to inform and reform, to show you how we as fashionistas can restore our world and reduce the impact of our toxic spending habits and consumption.
Expecting ourselves to set limitations on how much we spend a month and how much of it we wear can be stressful and can negatively hinder our ability to save by causing us to spend more.
HOWEVER, there are ways that we can exert our newfound passions for saving the environment by expressing our passion for fashion in a more hands-on approach. This is by:
- Putting Pinterest to good use and creating a mood board that fit the aesthetic you want to live by. By collating inspiration, it conjures the feeling of excitement towards fashion more independently instead of getting this feeling from a two for one special.
- From here, take care of the current items in your wardrobe! Follow the washing and care instructions and hang it up instead of throwing them on the floor after a night out. When you realise that their time with you has come to an end, recycling those pieces, and giving it to a thrift store is your best friend. It gives those garments a new life for another person to love it as much as you once did instead of ending up in landfill, rotting away and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
- We have the power to do anything we want if we put our mind to it and I fully believe that as individuals who take pride in how we look consistently enough to keep up with the trends we can understand that upcycling is the new in. So do it, I challenge you all to leap, do your part to change the fashion game and turn that old item you hate into something you love.
LONG STORY SHORT: Overspending is your foe.
We may feel the thrills of cheap and easy spending when we click ‘purchase now’ on a variety of new clothes for the wardrobe that week. This feeling may make you think that overspending is your friend, that it’s okay to ignore any guilt or morals that creep up in the back of your mind.
But this is how society and corporations have trained our mindsets to work. We can play our part to not give into it and as I said, change the fashion game.
This is Isabella Suruthi signing off.
Talk soon, kiss kiss x