After reading Maple Nation, speaking with the class about climate change, and doing my own reflection, I felt like I wanted to make a rather large change to my life to impact the planet for the better. Now, not to toot my own horn, but I’m not too bad with the environmental stuff as of right now. Don’t get me wrong, I could be better. However, after going through the list of ways I could contribute, I realized that my consumerist habits, particularly with clothing, was definitely where I contribute the most environmental waste.
My pledge is to not buy any new clothing for the rest of the year. Since this was actually my New Years Resolution as well (is this cheating?), I actually started the challenge on December 26th– the ultimate day of consumerism as we know it in North America. So far, it has been going well. This challenge would have been made so much harder if I was still working at the clothing store I’ve been working at for the last six years. Now that I’ve been without shopping for the last month, I realize how much I really did shop.
However, when I made this “resolution” for the new year, I had my closet in mind, solely. I was thinking to myself that I wanted to save money and at the same time reduce my consumerist habits because I had no more empty hangers… More of a self mission. But after doing some research on the fashion industry, I have much more motivation to do this challenge for the planet.
In particular, I watched a new documentary about the fashion industry called The True Cost: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaGp5_Sfbss
This documentary not only highlights the growing affects of the fashion industry on the workers who manufacture the clothing in developing nations, it also shows the watcher how the environment is damaged by this huge industry. To put it in perspective, the fashion industry is the 2nd largest polluter in the world, next to the oil industry. The average american throws away 82lbs of clothing every year, and that clothing sits in a landfill for 200 years before it biodegrades– letting off chemicals. Not to mention the fabrication environmental damages, which brings toxins to the water, soil, and air. And the market is only growing… On the human side, in North America, we are engulfed in this fantasy that our problems will disappear from buying more and more at a cheaper cost. But we aren’t thinking about the true costs… Our environment, and it’s people.
My official pledge is that I will not buy any new clothes, and I will continue to purge my closet as I see fit for the next year. Rather than donating my clothing, I’d like to try to make old clothes into something I would wear. The video shared that only 10% of donated/recycled clothes end up in local stores, and the rest are shipped back to developing nations, where there are too many already.
I am allowing myself three “special occasion” purchases. This is only for the reason that I committed to purchases before my pledge, such as buying a bridesmaid’s dress… But only three.
Next, I am allowing myself to mindfully continue to buy used and vintage clothing, only for the reason that sometimes clothing is a necessity, and I feel like the recycled clothing industry fits with my pledge. Already I’ve had to dig to the bottoms of Regina to find a second hand one piece bathing suit for an upcoming trip (spare me)… That was an experience.
Below are photos of my visual for this assignment. I wanted something that I could hang on my closet door so that I am reminded every day when I’m picking out an outfit that I’m doing something with a purpose for our planet. For the letters I actually used cut-outs from fashion magazines… How fitting! The picture in the left corner of the poster is me in front of a chaotic store front in Mexico City. I was there last summer, and I couldn’t help but notice it. The store’s front and interior was literally overflowing with clothing, none of it seemed to have purpose or real value. After reflecting on this occasion, I realize now that this store was selling cheap misprints or over prints of t-shirts made by a factory in Mexico City. This mass production makes me feel sad, because it’s so thoughtless.
Wish me luck with my pledge! What do you think, can this be done? Also, if you watched the video, what else can we do to reduce fast-fashion consumption?