Overconsumption & Fashion Industry
I used to buy a lot of things, I needed some but mostly had only the urge to get them. I knew when the sales in Ireland started and rushed to Brown Thomas and Arnotts to get the best bargains. When the sales stopped in Ireland, the ones in France started so I was ordering skirts, blouses and other things online. After a bad day, going to the stores because this new (and cheap) dress will make your evening. Feeling better at the cashier desk and even better when you try on the dress at home. The feeling does not last of course and you always left feeling empty: you never have enough shoes, bags or tops.
At some point, I realised I had so many clothes, shoes and accessories that I would not need to do the laundry for weeks. I even (re)discovered that small top at the rear of my wardrobe just to forget its existence (again) 5 minutes after.
Consumerism is so mainstream nowadays that everything will tempt you into buying something new: Apple launches the new iPhone, TVs are now 4K and bigger than ever, picked up a new sport so let’s buy new sportswear items (even though you already have 4 pants, 3 sports bra and 8 sports top), a new job so new style, going on holidays in 2 weeks so 3 new swimwear outfits would be perfect. We don’t even try to repair things. It’s broken, let’s buy a new one.
Buy Less and Use What I Have
One day in 2016, I just looked at my wardrobe and thought that I had way more than enough and hence I challenged myself not to buy any clothes for 12 months. Should I really need something, I could upcycle “old” clothes, buy second-hand or sew a new top with fabric I already have. I used to study Fashion Design, after all, so sewing is not new to me.
I honestly thought this experience would be difficult, difficult to resist when I am in a store, difficult not to process an order online. In the end, I did not even have to avoid stores, I just did not buy anything. I went with my friends browsing, mostly for them. Sometimes, I’d just go to see what was trendy to get ideas to make my own clothes.
Not buying things for a year was the opportunity to be more creative for myself but also for my friends and family. I didn’t buy them gifts but made them: making bracelets, soaps, candles,... I was a bit afraid to be labelled as stingy but they actually did appreciate the attention. It sounds silly but instead of “just” going to a store and spend money, I’d think about my relative, what they would like and spend some time doing something especially for them.
After this 12 month experimentation, I was so happy, that I never really stopped it. It is not a big deal to stop buying clothes for a year because most of the time, we just don’t need them. Having 10 trousers, 20 necklaces is not essential at all. Be free from this addiction, being free from this urge to buy just to buy makes me happier and strangely less empty.
Let’s not forget that our consumerism does not only affect our bank accounts and our lifestyles but is also really having an effect on the environment. When we think about damaging industries, we think of oil. Well, the oil industry is number 1 but the clothing one is actually the second one.
When we buy something, we cast a vote.
We vote for the world we want, the values we have, the companies we support. This being said, I am far from perfect and I can buy stupid things from time to time but it definitely happens less.
We need to be more conscious of our purchases and ask the right questions before buying: Why do we need/want to buy it? It is really necessary? Are the products made in a sustainable fashion? Where does it come from? Are the employees treated fairly? Can I buy it for second-hand instead? Can I borrow this dress for a night to attend a special event?
I just wish to share my experience to show it is easy to reduce our consumerism. Hence, this post is not about how Fast Fashion is not eco-friendly. There are already many interesting articles and I strongly advise you have a look at them.
About Fast Fashion
The truth about the clothes we wear - How fashion impacts Health and Environment - Huffingtonpost. Fast Fashion Is Creating an Environmental Crisis - Newsweek. Fast Fashion Is the Second Dirtiest Industry in the World, Next to Big Oil - Ecowatch 5 years since the Rana Plaze tragedy, what's changed? - Fashion Revolution Fashion revolution week 2018 - Independent.co.uk We Have No Idea How Bad Fashion Actually Is for the Environment - Racked