Who loves shopping? Not me.. Although I like nice clothes 🙂 I am sure a lot of people today love / like to go shopping. I go shopping when I need to buy something and in very rare cases I can go and buy something which I don’t really need right now, only because it’s a good deal or it’s just amazing and I want to have it..
I have been thinking recently about this very typical consumer behavior – buying more and more items, using them once or twice and throwing them away and sometimes making good by giving them for charity. What made me think about this was a documentary I watched during an the Environmental Film Festival in April this year in Princeton, NJ, called The True Cost, I hope there are many other movies and documentaries trying to explain the cycle of clothing industry and the impact on our life and well-being.
To be able to buy more and easily throw away we have “available resources” .. meaning variety of cheap or affordable goods at any time and any place. Some of the big retailers on the market allowing us to do this are the so called fast fashion retailers. I think in the case of Fast fashion industry we stress more on the Fast than on the Fashion. Unfortunately like in other industries the word Fast is not associated with responsible behavior towards people and environment.
The meaning of “Available resources” (my personal view)
What about the nature? The land, the air? A lot of people are well familiar with the damaging impact of the produced waste.
What about the local economy. Let’s strengthen our economy. For me, buying from your town, city, region (if you have available goods) makes more sense. It’s better to invest in your local economy and help your own community… clothes food and simple things ,, most of the times can be produces locally .. which can probably offer better quality and will contribute to local economy and the region you live.
It maybe means hard working in bad conditions, underpaid and unable to protect his own rights person. 5 and 105 years ago we had accidents in Fashion / Clothing factories and lost human lives because of bad conditions. Let’s think about their protection and rights. So the low level of salary, the bad working conditions and even violence we can see in the developing countries and at the end they receive again the unnecessary clothes
So Let’s give them what they need and what they ask for.. not what we don’t need
In Bulgaria a few years ago my organization called People Help in partnership with another nonprofit had campaigns to collect second hand / used clothes and give them to children, individuals and families in need. I realized that there are people who wanted to donate not because they wanted to help but because they simply wanted to get rid of them. In the start I thought it is a very good idea – you have something, they don’t. It’s a good idea only when it’s beneficial for both sides. I eventually stopped participating in these campaigns because I was not sure people needed this “charity” any more. People in worldwide give away tons of old clothes which go to poor, disadvantaged people or people from developing countries and a lot of these clothes can’t be used … and become trash.
As a consumer
First, I am not saying big names selling boutique clothes are better choice. It is not only about fast fashion industry, it’s about people using their brains more often when shopping. I am saying let’s be wise, look for quality not quantity and name and Think about what is the prize of these “available resources”.
Second, Without knowing much about Fashion industry … the model is clear to me … rich countries get the product at affordable prize and get the benefits, very clever. How this process is beneficial for both sides… I just don’t see it, I need somebody to explain it to me.
Third, I am not mentioning scary numbers, you can probably guess the biggest consumers of clothing these days. And no need to say the big names and top richest corporations, they are worldwide known and you see them every day around you. I don’t want to point finger at big names and say: These are the bad guys. Of course, a businessman will do business and fortune when the market is asking for more and more products.
What I am trying to say is: The most important part of their success and fortune is
people.. consumers.. what they ask for, what they want (arguably what they really need 🙂 )
So after all we have the power
I know it’s very bad when you only point at the problems and don’t give ideas for solutions. I can not give expert solution in this field, but I can give my consumer advice. Simple – be wiser, buy less, like and love your clothes, feel comfortable with them, use them as much as you can.
Try to buy from local manufacturing, the more you buy locally the more you invest and the more they produce ..
I have clothes bought from “fast fashion stores”, I am not saying: Don’t ever go there and don’t bye, just read, be informed and be aware why these clothes and cheap or affordable and be smart in using the resources. I will follow my own advice because I would like to make a small step.. and if more and more people are making steps we know the result – visible change.
I would really love to see hundreds or even thousands of small or medium companies offering clothing rather than seeing a few in top of richest corporations in the world.
If we put aside economy and nature: I personally prefer T-shirt like another 200 or 2000 people rather than 1 T-shirt like another 2 or million or more people.
We say in Bulgaria: The knife and the bread are in your hands. Consumer plays a big role as the businesses and government support do. Having this in mind I would say:
Buy whatever you want and like but Let’s Think twice, be wise and Take what we need.