Last summer I was on a shopping spree, induced by Instagram and Youtube hauls. I bought loads of stuff and, as soon the weather changed, I realized the amount of money I’ve actually wasted since most of those clothes were never worn. This made me think a lot about my shopping habits.
I realized I was actually being influenced by other people’s tastes and style, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But I found out I was buying stuff because I saw other people wearing it and liked it on them. I wasn’t considering how they were going to look on me, or if they were representative of my style or personality. At the same time, I was buying a lot of trendy pieces, meaning that I was spending money on clothes that I was going to be to use for no longer than a season. Which is a terrible waste of money.
All this led me to consider the impact of my expenses. Not only on my wallet but, in a wider framework: the environment. I started asking myself more and more questions. Where does the stuff I throw away goes? Are my clothes biodegradable? Do I really need to have all this stuff in my closet? And so on.
I learnt that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world. The manufacturing process has a heavy impact on:
- Soil degradation due to the massive use of chemicals on the crops, and to the overgrazing of pastures through sheep raised for their wool.
- Gasses emission from the intensive use of fossil fuels for the production of synthetic fibres.
- Waste accumulation: only the 15% of the clothes are actually recycled or donated; moreover synthetic fibres which are the most used in the fashion industry ( around 70%) are non-biodegradable and can take up to 200 years to decompose. This means that it takes 2 o 3 generations for a single garment to decompose. That’s impressive guys!
- water pollution and water consumption: this industry is the major water consumer in the world. Wastewaters from the product contain toxic substances which are extremely harmful to aquatic life.
There’s also a human side of the issue: most of the clothes we wear are being manufactured in sweatshops. These are factories that exploit workers, have poor working conditions, unfair wages, unreasonable hours, child labour, and a lack of benefits for workers.
The whole situation is even made worst by the growth of fast fashion. For those who don’t know what fast fashion is, here’s a definition: “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.”
So, with all this new, overwhelming information, in my opinion, there was just one big question left: how can I, as an individual, do something to contrast all this and reduce my personal environmental impact? Some drastic decision and action needed to be made!
To begin with, I said goodbye to the fast fashion mentality: if you don’t need it don’t buy it! Even if it’s very trendy. Even if you really like it or it’s very cheap. What’s the need of having a closet full of clothes you don’t wear?! Do one really need to pay just 10 euros on a jumper, to then throw it away after the first wash because the colour is faded or it already has spots?
The second action I took was always being very conscious of the fabric composition of every garment I buy. If there’s no natural fibre in it I don’t buy it. This is a great thing, not only for the environment but also for your skin. Synthetic fibres aren’t breathable and can be very uncomfortable.
Last but not least I started being watchful of the brands I shop from. Luckily enough in the last years, the awareness about the issues with the fashion industries led to the rise of Conscious fashion. There are so many new brands that give the right importance to the environment and to the means of production. It is very common among these brands to indicate, on their website or on the label, all info about fabrics and factories.
Since I’ve made this swaps in my life I can see a lot of positive improvement in my daily life: my closet is more organized and fits everything, I no longer need to always make space for new stuff. It’s easier for me to get dressed and those “I have nothing to wear” days are drastically reduced. Also, I feel more aware of my expenses, and less guilty when buying. I’m perfectly aware that these are just little changes, that are not going to save the planet. But I think that if each of us could make that little effort to change a thing, starting from the very little, it will make a great difference.
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