Sustainable Fashion And Overconsumption

Fast fashion is a significant problem in our world. People buy a huge number of clothes, throw them away after a while, and then buy even more clothes. The cycle starts all over again.

Why we are buying so many clothes?

The root of the problem lies in the pressure of advertisement. These short videos that we consume every day have a certain influence on us. Their goal is to convince a consumer and simultaneously a potential customer that he does not have something important, which he extremely needed. This thing that advertisement is selling to people is supposed to make them happier, more beautiful, and desirable for others, as marketing is telling.

‘Gorgeous dress, beautiful shirt, and these pretty jeans, they will make me more beautiful, desirable and my whole life will be different!’

A good marketer is not selling the product, he is trying to sell the feeling one ‘gets’ from the purchase. However, this feeling of satisfaction after buying something new always passes quickly, because no item in this world would make a person happier and more fulfilled of purchasing. The only person himself can make himself feel this way. Nevertheless, we are still thinking that new clothes will make us feel better.

Workers on Bangladesh and Cambogia

When we are buying a new clothing item we hardly think about the conditions under which the clothes were produced. The most common criteria that customers look for when choosing clothes is price. It is not a secret, that people want to look good in their clothes and feel comfortable at the same time, without spending a fortune on it. In this way, a lot of people buy cheap and fashionable clothes in the mass market.

However, almost all the clothes in these stores are made in Bangladesh and Cambogia. In these countries, many people are very poor as there is a low standard of living. People do not have a lot of options, so they go to work in the factories that produce clothes, and they do not demand a high salary.

Thousands of workers died in these old factories because the building was dilapidated and the government did not want to repair it.

People from a young age are working in these factories to help their families financially. If the workers are trying to speak out against inhumane working conditions and wages below the cost of living, they are confronted with the police, which suppresses any discontent in violent ways.

We are not thinking about those who made our clothes and about their working conditions.

We are buying clothes, throwing them away without a second thought about those workers, who fight for their lives and try to survive every day. This system of producing cheap clothes in poor countries still exists because people keep buying these clothes. As long as we will stop supporting this fast fashion tendency, the situation will change for the better. If people will no longer buy these cheap clothes from Bangladesh and Cambogia, there will be no need to produce them.

Ecological issues

Generally, cheap clothes are produced with cheap and unsustainable materials, which are very detrimental to the environment and to people’s health. For example, cotton is treated with chemicals that make it grow faster but they are harmful to the air. So, people, who are living near these areas are inhaling these chemicals through the air and subsequently are suffering from different diseases.

Photo by @mvdheuvel on Unsplash

Furthermore, chemicals from clothing factories are also dumping into the local river, which often is the only source of drinking water in a certain living area. People, who do not have enough money are forced to drink this polluted water, which negatively affects their health.

Clothing is cheap due to cheap labor and cheap, unsustainable materials

Fast fashion

Fast fashion refers to short-lived clothing items, which are considered to be ‘popular’ and ‘cool’ in the time when you buy them. Usually, these clothes stay in the closet for years. There is a big chance that you wear it once and never put it on again.

Say ‘no’ to the spontaneous purchases

How many clothes have you bought recently, even though you did not plan, because of big discounts? Impulsive shopping is very dangerous as you can fall prey to advertising and buy a lot of cheap things, that you actually don’t need and that you will never buy without a sale.

Photo by @candelarms on Unsplash

It is very tempting to buy things on the sale as they are incredibly cheap, and it seems like a favorable offer. Nevertheless, it is not such a good deal, if take into account the fact that, in most cases, you do not need this clothing item. In fact, you are just wasting your money as purchased things will be useless for you.

Also, on your decision whether to buy clothes can influence your friend, who told you that a certain piece of clothes suits you, when you yourself think that you do not look good in it, or you may think ‘It will suit me perfectly when I lose weight’. Every time you are hesitating and feeling unsure to buy anything, it is not worth it. It means, that you are not wanting and need this particular item for 100%.

Solutions

Now, when the problem statement is clear, let’s move to the next part, which is going to be finding solutions to the problem of fast fashion and overconsumption.

  • Support sustainable brands

The first thing that every single one of us can do to become one step closer to solving the mentioned problem is to buy clothes, which were made by sustainable brands by workers who are fairly rewarded for their labor and who make those clothes in the safe working conditions.

It may seem, that ecological clothes are too expensive for ordinary people with an average income. However, though sustainable clothing items cost more than usual fast fashioned clothes, they are also lasting longer, than those, which are cheap and made with unecological materials. It is better to buy one piece of clothes but high quality rather than two items, which are cheaper and low quality.

Photo by Aviv Rachmadian on Unsplash
  • Restyle

Try to find clothes, that you will be able to wear in multiple ways and restyle those, that you already have in your wardrobe.

For example, an old dress is possible to use as a skirt or a T-shirt. You can wear a sweater, a shirt, or a sweatshirt over it, or style it with a belt. The variations are endless, all you need is your imagination and not to be afraid to make a mistake.

Also, you can redo the old clothes, that are not fit you anymore, by sewing them and adding new interesting details.

True art begins when the imagination comes into play

Such outfits are creative, unique, and stylish. This is a real fashion! Fashion that you are creating by yourself, without trying to copy the outfit of the model in the fashion magazine.

  • Swap

If you have clothes, that you are sure you will never wear again, you can exchange them for other clothes. There are a lot of organizations out there, which arrange different events, where everyone can come and swap the things that they are no longer need.

You can also make such a clothing exchange simply with your friends, who are interested in it.

  • Secondhand

Secondhand has become very popular over the last couple of years, and this fact is understandable. There are a lot of cool, vintage, and stylish clothes in such stores. They are also inexpensive, considering that they are not new. One more advantage of secondhand is sustainability because these clothes were already produced some time ago. It is also a great opportunity to buy a unique clothing item with a story.

  • Donate

If there are no people, willing to swap with their clothes or you just want to get rid of your old clothes and make room in the closet, the donation is an appropriate ecological option for you. Simultaneously, you help those who are in need and give away clothes that you are no longer wearing. You can donate to orphanages, to refugees, to low-income people, and so on.

  • Recycle

Not all the clothes are suitable for donation and exchange due to their dilapidation. Therefore, old pieces of clothes can be recycled and given a second life as new clothes or something else.

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