- Ingri Pauline
Emissions of Shopping
If you drive an electric car but shop for clothes at large boutiques regularly, you can check your sung self at the door.
Your “climate friendly car” is doing nothing to curtail emissions when your wardrobe is toxic. The Prius and Tesla is nothing but a virtue signaling fashion piece to make you feel better about yourself compared to all those who still pump gas.
Let’s talk about the climate.
No matter what side of the political fence you are on, we can all agree that it is our duty as good and grateful humans to be kind to the earth. We should absolutely try to lower the chemical impact on the world and do our best to remain clean.
And what is everyone making a big hoopla about? Plastic and car emissions.
These worries are well placed seeing as there are huge industries who's factories, processing and product add in toxic gasses being released in the environment. This is the fist attack of all the climate change scientists and hippies waving signs.
But here is the kicker: the automotive industry isn’t the biggest criminal in contributions to climate change.
That award goes to the fashion industry.
Don't those PSAs from celebrities, musicians, artists and politicians seem a bit ironic to you now?
Let me explain; while car emission is indeed a big concern, the US need for NEW STUFF is a bigger one. We have infected many countries with frantic consumerism and people are conditioned to shop in a world of abundance. The US cuts down on local factory work and outsources their labor to poor countries. The stores that specialize in these cheaply made, high turnover clothes keep their store constantly packed with product and fresh with new product.
Consumers not Citizens of Countries
One of the wonderful things that made america was the bigness. The vast amount of resources, opportunities and options that we provide our citizens. Over the last 100 years, we have turned from citizens to consumers of America. We have left quite an impression on the world. Everyone who come to America comes to shop. Soon it wasn’t just Americans that wanted packed malls with shiny new things.
I have been traveling back and forth from Europe to America since I was 14 in 2000. I can tell you the amount of consumerism in Europe has skyrocketed. Stores are bigger, malls exist, closets are lager. People don't wear the same outfit two or three days a week anymore. They have adopted the american style of wearing a whole new outfit every day.
Think about this: a daily new set of clothes to sit in an office all day - at a time when many people still have only work clothes and church clothes.
What once was a small, thoughtful and thrifty wardrobe has become a battle for space in tiny euro apartments. The people are no longer interested in empty space. This has led to a herpetic like outbreak of HUGE fashion stores.
While it is amazing to have great, affordable, wearable art at our fingertips, we have ignored the nuance of class, taste, geo-politics and personality in our clothing options. Style is no longer personal or a gift when great clothes are everywhere. And the availability blinds us to the consequences.
Outsourcing Our Jobs to Cheap Exported Labor
I love capitalism and growing the wealth of countries, yet I am not a fan of excess at the expense of others. I realize the prosperity is a good thing for everyone involved. And it is a shame that in order to be more prosperous, large companies take their work to places that lack a standard of safety and practice.
Rich countries in North America and Europe outsource their factories to countries that don't follow labor laws, support unions or follow EPA guidelines for industry. This means labor is extremely cheap and they can do the labor at the expense of the worker and the local environment. If this seems like the opposite of what political party's seem to fight for during a campaign, that's because it is.
China and India are the two countries with the most amount of factory produced goods and clothing shipped to America. They are also the greatest criminals of climate pollution. There is no EPA or moral gravitas in these countries to producing the goods sustainably.
Dying clothes waste vast amounts of water, as well as ruins good drinking water and soil with harsh chemicals. This isn't the only devastation. Factory clothing and clothing donations have totally disabled once thriving local textile markets in India, Haiti, East Africa and India. What was once a booming industry supporting the local communities, is now a shell of what it once was.
4 Cycle Seasons
You like many, like options right? Well this is the whole idea behind shopping in western countries - but it's on a ridiculous scale. Think about those huge stress full of trendy, cheap clothing: Forever 21, H&M, Weekday and many other of the like. They typically run 4 cycle seasons in those stories. This is good for business. This keeps up a demand for advertising and keeps you constantly coming back with new cuts in old print and old cuts in new colors.
4-Cycle seasons means that the entire collection of clothes is changed out four times over one season. That means 8-16 times a year, the whole store is new.
But literally every time you visit, there is a brand new store full of clothes and its wreaking havoc on the climate.
And they can’t even sell all the product! They “donate” it and ship it to countries “in need.” these places don't need another round of a leopard mini dress that doesn't keep you warm or cool. I had a backpacking pretend that taught school in Haiti for two years and she said when the planted trees, the cloth they wrapped the root of the tree in was not compostable cotton - it was old sports jerseys.
This brings up another important point of mass clothing: decomposition. Those jerseys are not going to erode well in the soil because most clothing these days is made with plastic in the fiber.
The amount of plastic in women clothing is truly astounding. If it have a stretch or shine, it has plastic - that means nearly every piece of women's clothing for sale has plastic in the fabric. You can’t even buy women's 501 Levis without a bit of stretch in them!
This is toxic production, ladies. Properly disposing of these kinds of clothes needs to be address with the same intensity and fever we have for recycling plastic bags, bottles and batteries.
Rethink Your Shopping
We need to give our consumerist tendencies and expressions of self a good hard look. We can not ruin this world because to many women believe in shopping therapy.
Buy more second hand clothes. You can get great designer clothes for a fraction of the price. Pieces are often antique and a bit of hunting and pen mindedness will go a long way. Vintage band t-shirts, cashmere sweaters, leather jackets all for pennies compared to it’s usual price.
Search for natural fabrics and stick to it. Your skin will also really appreciate the break from plastic exposure. Think cotton, wool, leather, cashmere and silk. If you are in a second hand shop, you can easily find these fabrics
When you do shop, but only one or two items at a time - and make it hurt. Don't bother with cheap clothing. Go for expensive stuff that lasts, that you will wear for 10 years and will make you feel proud you bought it.
In the long run, this practice will save you money, women often spend 100-200$ on cheap clothes that they will be sick of or tear up in less than 6 months. Buying pieces that you thought about and that communicate class and style will last you much longer. Check out Classic Wardrobe Staples to get an idea of the item needed to make a versatile and stylish closet.
Cultivate a small but well thought out wardrobe. You don't need to wear three different dresses to three summer weddings. Style one differently, avoid too many pictures or borrow a friends dress. The fact is, most of us tend to wear the same 1-2 laundry loads of clothing day in and day out. Your chic minimalism will stand out with quality pieces.
If you order something off the internet and it says, “Please allow 3 to 6 weeks for shipping,” this is a good sign. OK, so you have to wait longer. But this usually means that the article of clothing is not produced until a certain amount of orders comes in and that mean less waste. This is drop-shipping at its finest. There will be no back stock of inventory for them to sell or throw away. Be patient
And lastly, consider not shopping at certain stores all together. As a rule, I no longer shop at any H&M owned stores or Forever 21 (I’ve aged out of that one) because they, along with Nike, are some of the largest culprits of this mess. I’m sure that there are some skeptical practices that are going on with some of the clothes I buy elsewhere but largely, I have take steps to uphold my values and I have flat out drawn a line.
Just refuse to support this practice. The climate change rhetoric is incomplete and misleading. Media misses the biggest chunk of the puzzle when it leaves out the fashion and textile industry from the conversation.
Please share this with you friends. Let them know about the practices too, as I’m sure most women want to know how they can shop for a better world, look good and still save some money