Fashion Shopping Ban
I'm ditching fast fashion.
With the start of a new year, I've been getting email after email with the subject line: CLEARANCE! 70% OFF ALL ITEMS and 2018 BOGO SALE. I would consider myself a very financially-conscious person, so I find it hard to resist deals like these. However, I've been getting convicted in different ways about the way I use my money.
Through my environment courses, partnerships with ethical fashion brands, and volunteering at a sustainability nonprofit, I have become acutely aware of the atrocities fashion brands contribute to (mainly environmental degradation and unethical sourcing and treatment of workers). Summary: fast fashion is a HUGE problem. Fast fashion refers to companies that sell (usually, but not necessarily) cheap, trendy clothing items. This industry is massive in the US and all over the world, and you can bet most of the things in your closet qualify as such. Brands like H&M, American Eagle, Gap, Zara, Urban Outfitters, Nike, and TopShop are good at hiding the fact that they exploit their overseas workers, "contribute to the decline of US manufacturing" (Kate Wood, Lifehack), and wreck the environment to create low-quality items. Fast fashion pollutes the planet, depletes water sources, and uses unsustainable crops.
Forbes says "12.8 million tons of clothing are sent to landfills in the US every year" due to fast fashion.
This is a big issue. So what can I do about it?
My story is a typical one: I’m a college student and part time photographer trying to make a living while simultaneously attempting to get good grades. If you know me, you know I have a super hard time paying more than $5 for anything. I shouldn't be spending money on nonessential, trendy stuff anyway. On top of that, I’ve been taught my whole life not to be wasteful: of food, clothes, or anything. Plus, learning more and more about common practices that hurt the environment makes me feel more and more responsible for my wasteful actions. I’ve been trying to not purchase things unless I need them and buying only what I know I’m going to use fully. However, I still feel like what I’m doing is good enough. I want to take this further.
I have a friend who runs an ethical lifestyle blog, That Curly Top, who just completed a one year “shopping ban.” I got inspired by her journey and how it has helped her become more devoted to sustainability and standing up for the ethical treatment of humans.
I’ve decided to follow in her footsteps by banning shopping for 6 months.
Now... it may not seem like a long time to go without shopping, but this is most likely going to prove tough for me. Even though I shouldn't spend money on tons of clothes, I still find that I buy cheap things here and there to “reward” myself every once in a while. This is totally bogus and I should not be finding fulfillment in this. Plus, let’s be real: I have a full closet as is.
Why do I matter?
~ I believe that there is power in the consumer market. By choosing not to participate, I am standing up for what I believe in.
~ This is me taking responsibility for unethical and environmentally harmful practices.
~ This is me taking control of my finances and using them to honor God and people.
~ This is me actively choosing to be happy with what I have.
~ This is me standing up for those who don’t get a voice (especially women working in sweatshops half a world away).
~ This is me saying “no” to materials that have no meaning and are unfulfilling in my life.
~ This is an act of worship to the Creator, who desperately wants us to be stewards of his creation and lovers of the oppressed.
What does the challenge entail?
I pledge to not buy any item of clothing or accessory unless it comes from an ethical and environmentally-friendly company (no greenwashing or pinkwashing allowed). Note: there are TONS of great companies out there that are dedicated to this kind of positive impact. Even thrifting is a great place to start. (Check out my collaboration with local, sustainable fashion designer Taylor Whipp)
I would like to say that I'm starting this challenge with a clean slate for 2018, but that wouldn't be true. I've already failed the challenge by buying a pair of shoes this year. Originally, when I was contemplating doing this challenge, I had told myself that this shopping ban would be only related to clothes, but after getting rid of the excuses, I realized shoe companies can be just as unsustainable and unethical as any other clothing brand.
This may just be a small step, but at least it is a step. I hope and pray this will do a whole lot of good for me (and the planet) and that I can extend this challenge to be a long-term lifestyle greater than six months.
I hope you have learned something in this blog, and perhaps you will choose to take a similar step in your life. Please feel free to contact me if you want resources or have any questions. Thanks for the love 💕
Redwood forest in NorCal
Resources and More Information:
Many have seen the damage fast fashion has through the film The True Cost.
This article from The Independent speaks on the subject and the dangers of fast fashion.
Here is the link to the Forbes article I quoted.
Another great article.
Know the difference between sustainability and greenwashing.
University textbooks like this one are great for understanding more about environmental impact and persuasive strategies.
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