My dearest readers,
This is a water supply. I love clothing, I love expressing myself visually, but when I think of the long term implications my consumption has, I know we have to change the way we think about it. Bored Panda released a visual photo essay about the pollution in china and it’s horrifying! Quite frankly this isn’t just about the physical toll our consumption takes on the environment, it’s also about the impact it has on the people who work and live in these conditions.
My good friend send me this article Bloggers sent to work in Cambodian Sweatshops, that links to the videos so you can watch the online reality show that is attached to the break down of this 17 year old blogger. There is a concept that my students and I discuss when we talk about the ethics of outsourcing that I think many of us overlook. The notion that because we are advanced as a culture that we have tied up all the loose ends of the highlighted issues of children in sweatshops, or the deaths of hundreds of women in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. The reality is these atrocities are happening today, they happen everywhere. Even with the green movement there is not enough being done to make our clothes more ethical or sustainable. I feel the only way we change this is by knowledge and discussion.
I, just like you, love new clothing, I love to buy new stuff to put in my closet, I love to look my best and I have an unnatural obsession for looking my best. However, there is no handbag in the world that is worth the loss of human life or the degradation of others or the places they live. I think of it this way. I love clothing and I love new designs and the innovation and creativity that is associated with the fashion industry, but if we don’t make severe cuts and changes in the selections and mass productions associated with this industry we may not get to look forward to many more Mercedes Benz Fashion weeks. Why? Because we are going to eventually run out or ruin farmable land for all of that cotton for all of those t-shirts and jeans we love so much. It already depletes soil nutrients that could be used for growing food. And not to be too dramatic, but when we’re all dying of cancer from the amount of caustic chemicals we have put in to our water supply from pesticide run off for those crops and the chemical dyes we use to give them colors, I wonder if we’ll regret the damage we have done.
I’m not saying that first thing tomorrow you should throw out all of your unethically sourced clothes or that we all have deep pockets that allow us to buy 100% organic 100% sustainable 100% ethically sourced clothing. However, we all can start in acknowledging the problems and start facilitating discussions on how to make a difference. It’s time to start paying attention.
My partner and I have started this journey in baby steps by shopping the majority of our clothing through second hand clothing stores. While these present their own challenges and are dependent on a primary market to create the clothing that supply these stores, they do allow us to keep a large quantity of textiles out of landfills and keep those garments worn until the end of their intended life cycles. I think of it as starting in a place of waste not want not. I am also saying it is time to be more choosy in your wardrobe decisions and start finding your own answers about your consumables. Companies want you to buy their product, they don’t want you to know hundreds of 15 year old girls were killed in a factory fire that made those goods.
I also give this piece of advice, support your local economies, buy local and buy less. For those of you interested I’ve been reading this fantastic book Wear No Evil. She has some pretty hard hitting facts about our clothing and so far some pretty sound advice on how she changed her own consumption.
I don’t think that any one person has all of the answers, or that any one person is 100% unbiased and accurate when it comes to discussing how we use, waste or manufacture. However, it starts with educating yourself and researching the things that important to you. For me, I would like to see us continue to have fashion weeks, and have new an innovative fashion ideas. In order to do this in the long term, we have to change. It’s lovely to look good, it’s awesome to accept yourself for who you are, but it’s amazing to be aware enough to take care of your surroundings.
Some food for thought my lovely fashionistas!