Recommended: The True Cost
By Vera Vlaming, Amsterdam.
Last Saturday I watched a documentary that made a great impact on me. Being a little hangovered from a party the evening before, my boyfriend and I watched “The True Cost”.
I already had prepared myself that this documentary could possible change my perception of fashion, the fashion industry and that watching it could change my lifestyle accordingly.
Not that shopping is one of my key habits, but when I do buy new clothing it’s often the so called fast fashion items: my sustainable wardrobe is limited to one pair of Superkoeien shoes.
The True Cost displays the true cost of the fashion industry. We all are well aware of the fact that fashion brands outsource their production to countries such as Bangladesh and China, where labour conditions are often poor. The awareness of the environmental impact, e.g. the mountains of fashion waste and chemical polluted areas, comes to a far lesser extent I believe.
The impact overall of the fashion industry nowadays is huge. It affects many people, many natural habitats and it concerns the well-being of animals too. This makes the fashion industry arguebly even worse than the biofuel industry.
How is it possible that well-known and popular fashion brands outsource their production to countries that suffer under this mass production? How can these brands close their eyes and only think about making profit? How can they ignore their responsibility?
If I would start my own small business in jewellery, why would I at the same time destroy the lives of many people and the environment? How could I not mind that my business would involve slave- and/ or childlabour? And of course – in addition to all that, I would dump my waste in their countries.
“Not my problem”, still seems to be the message of many fashion brands.
Call me simple, but I find it stunning that this is happening for decades and that despite the increasing amount of awareness and media attention, the story continues. It seems that mass consumption is only getting worse with all the fashion- and beautybloggers that post their shoplogs one after another without thinking about any consequences. Consumer’s urge to buy is growing, especially within the context of keeping up with the latest fashion trends.
The good news is that if you as an individual take responsibility, you:
- save a lot of money: you don’t need to buy new clothes for every special occasion, season or fashion trend, etc;
- enjoy the clothing more that you already have. You will become more creative, develop your own style and take more care for the clothing you already have;
- feel relaxed when you start shopping more consciously: you don’t feel the urge to constantly buy new clothes or to take part in the latest fashion trends;
- only buy something when you know that you can enjoy it for a long time. This means you will choose quality over quantity, which will pay off in looks as well;
- save space: in your mind and in your home!
- save time: no need to tidy up so often anymore;
- know better what suits you because you shop more consciously. For example, a few nice basic items can already be enough to create a fashionable style;
- last but not least – contribute to a better world. A better world for yourself, for the people around you and for the earth you are living on.
Shopping ethical and sustainable is getting easier: more and more (local) sustainable and fair clothing stores are popping up, in many cities all around the world. Also, consider the second hand and vintage stores or go to a nice exchange party!
I am curious how it’s going to work out for me. I sometimes really feel the urge to buy something new, for no reason. And often these ‘shopping moods’ end up in t-shirts no more than twenty euro’s, getting bad after a few times washing. I will probably find it difficult to buy just one item, more expensive but that will last longer. At the same time I know that I will find these kind of items more special and will treat them with more care than something bought at for example Primark.
It will probably also create a lot more space and peace on my mind. Space for other things because I won’t go out shopping a whole day anymore; peace on my mind because I don’t feel the urge to go out and spend my money on some clothing. Instead, I can clean up my wardrobe and become creative, check out a second hand store or get some inspiration in a sustainable fashion store.
Another point which will probably complicate it a bit for me, is that clothing from for example Zara and H&M fit me very well. I like them. So I hope to find brands that can replace these which I will like just as much – or perhaps even more.
I expect it to be like grocery shopping: you rise and fa(i)ll. Sometimes you magage to shop organic and ethical, sometimes maybe not. Either because of money, time, etc. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Changing habits takes time!
How will you do it?
Vera Vlaming studied journalism & tourism and she is the owner of a personal travel and mindstyle blog where she writes about conscious living, thinking, self-improvement, travel and lifestyle. She believes a better world starts with yourself and on this journey you can inspire others to join you.