Recently, I have evaluated my clothing consumption and I have concluded – I’m a consumer, I’m trapped but I wanna get out.
The fashion industry, just as most other industries, is constantly striving for continued growth through an increase in sales and profits. With falling costs, and streamlined operation processes this is made possible and the fashion industry has gone from launching one new collection per season to one new collection every other week. The fashion cycle has been reduced, in other words – the time it takes for a garment or style to fall in and out of fashion and it will take less time for the consumers – you and I – to feel out of fashion.
With that being said, the industry has found a smart, yet unsustainable, way to maintain steady growth through increased consumption, and it’s working. Between 2004 and 2014 clothing production doubled and consumers bought on average 60 % more garments yet kept their garments for about half as long compared to 15 years ago1.
So what I am asking myself is how do I brace myself against this industry development?
What is easy to forget (but important to keep in mind) is that every element, in all garments we buy, in one way or another comes from the ground and is taken from our planet Earth – nothing just magically appears out of thin air.
When it comes to clothing, the presence of nature seems more obvious and apparent to me when I wear an item made of wool, cotton or leather. I can picture what a sheep, cotton field or a cow looks like. However, the polyester Zara skirt for £19.90 or the £9.98 acrylic blouse from H&M didn’t just appear out of thin air, they were made through chemical processes and exploitation of resources from the earth.
In comparison to the dinner leftovers that I forgot in the fridge – unfortunately, it’s not as easy to compost a polyester scarf as a Sunday roast. As polyester is made out of crude oil – it will most probably end up as landfill and potentially be buried in the ground. This would only be an efficient recycling method if you’re aiming to poison soil and drinking water.
Keeping this in mind might have given the short answer to my question; to ask yourself twice. Next time you’re in a fitting room and you’re wondering whether to buy that top or not, if you’re even considering not to buy, ask yourself again and add the following reflection, “can I justify bringing one additional garment into this world?” If the answer is no? Then return the garment to its rack and leave the store with a better conscious.
It’s only one small step in the right direction but it is the first step out of many to follow. Followingly, invest in high quality and lasting garments, plan, reuse items and search for vintage and second hand in shops and online. But more about that in my next posts.
- Mackinsey: Style that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/style-thats-sustainable-a-new-fast-fashion-formula)