Back to school shopping is so 2019. I mean who truly needs new everything every single season? What happened to timeless and quality statement pieces we could mix with any outfit?
I've owned these shorts for over 4 years. They've travelled with me, written exams with me, gone to the beach, rode on bikes, gone on dates, cuddled with my pets, shopped with me, and so much more. I guess you could say we're a pretty good pair.
But here's the thing.. "The clothing and textile industry is the second largest polluter in the world" (Forbes). THE SECOND LARGEST POLLUTER NEXT TO OIL! You read that right. Clothing waste amounts to 20% of global waste each year and wastes trillions and trillions of water annually. Not only is the current fashion economy wasteful, full of harmful chemicals, pesticides, and insecticides, but it's also one of the biggest forced and slave labour industries in the world. Men, women, and children are forced into unsafe working conditions for next to no pay, working extremely long shifts with abusive and domineering management. If the places where many of us buy our clothes from were making our clothes in North America employing the working conditions they do overseas, people would be in jail, businesses would go under, and many, many, many class action lawsuits would ensue.
So why do we shop from these places that we KNOW are using questionable business ethics? I don’t have the answer for you. If I were to guess it would be a mixture of a few of these things: money, convenience, fashion trends, location, sneaky marketing tactics, societal pressure to dress a certain way, societal pressure to be materialistic (although I think this is somehow changing), body figure, style, and other things I’m sure.
But we have to snap out of these behaviours. I know for many people, myself included, we don’t have enough money to buy the $400 pair of “ethical” jeans. And sometimes, our pants rip at work and we need to go buy new ones ASAP so no one can see your down under…. (No? Just me? Ok…. )
And that’s OKAY! What we do have the power over is buying second hand, demanding justice and safe working conditions from the companies we buy from, having conversations about fast fashion and calling out businesses who aren’t acting right.
*side note. I’ve realized that a lot of my tips or calls to action involve simply TALKING about the issues at stake. Education is fundamental to making changes. I mean how can we make changes about something if we don’t even know what needs to change in the first place? It would be very hard, and so talking about important issues and getting educated/educating others is a really big step to making change.
At the end of the day, here’s what I’m trying to get at:
This year, try and skip the excessive back to school shopping. Do you REALLY need that new pair of pants? Does your child NEED a new backpack, or is the one they have completely usable? If you're going to be sitting on your computer and #WFH is an entire new office wardrobe really necessary? I know you don’t LOVE the boots you bought last winter, but can you make them work for a few more seasons? These are some of the many questions we need to ask ourselves when thinking about purchasing something new.
Let's move away from materialistic ways of consuming products, especially clothing. In a world where we are completely depleting our resources, pumping harmful chemicals into soil, water, oceans, and our bodies, let’s try and choose products that have less of an impact.
If you need something new, buy it second hand. If you have extra time on your hands, why not learn how to sew your own dress or pants? And in the cases where you really do need something NEW, choose to buy from a business who treats their employees an above living wage and ethical working conditions. Choose businesses who are doing what they can to research and develop sustainable and earth-friendly growing, processing, dying and waste diversion practices to create a sustainable present and future.
We got this Earthlings! Simple changes have big impacts. Talk about it, practice what you preach, and let’s protect this Earth together.
Have any questions about fast fashion or sustinability in general? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for one of our FREE workshops in September.