Lets go back in time for this one.
Centuries ago, the industrial revolution was an amazing feat. Machines were being innovated and created to allow workers to make clothes, faster and more efficiently, and this was just the tip of the iceberg. Who knew that centuries into the future, this industrialised society would become so vast, that it would end up becoming more of a problem rather than a solution.
Recently, the issue is becoming more prominent. Just take a look around you and you’ll find documentaries like “True Cost” and increasing numbers of articles relating to ethical fashion that brings forth the issue of not only the environmental cost of fast-fashion (the concept of selling clothes at low prices, people buying hordes of clothes that only last one season and then throwing them away) but also the human cost too (workers in developing countries get extremely low pay in horrific conditions). Now I don’t want to dig too deep into advocating environmentalism and human rights issues here, as usual, I’d rather leave that to my studies, but I do wonder just how much longer the society can continue to focus on market competition and profits before these costs become too overwhelming. And that if and when the time, would it be too late?
I don’t want to continue and harp on about the problems, because problems will continue to be a problem until you find a solution. My solution right now is quite simple. I limit the amount of clothes I buy, and when I do buy clothes, I go to second hand stores. The good thing about this that I found, is that not only do I save money from limiting the number of items I buy, but as you may know, second hand stores are a treasure box of high-quality clothes (including quality brands) that are available for up to 75% of the original price. That’s a bargain if I ever found one. I’ve been doing this for about 2 months, now, and I won’t say it’s been smooth sailing either though. There are obviously some items of clothing: underwear, sports clothes, swimwear, that I am uncomfortable getting second hand. In cases like this, I opt to buy from stores that I know are proactively environmentally and human rights-friendly. Naturally, it means that the prices go up maybe even twice as much as what I normally buy, but I do it nonetheless because I don’t have to feel guilty, and also, they use good materials, which means they last long. And longevity in the end means that in the bigger picture, I actually save money.
This doesn’t only apply to clothing mind. I’ve de-cluttered my room and I’ve started to live as minimal a life as I can. It not only saves me money (which I realise I’ve repeated many a times, but I’m a student, so it’s hugely important), I have also started to appreciate what it is to just be human. Having enough, and nothing in excess has allowed me to appreciate the basic necessities and has also lessened the wishing-wanting-indulging-regretting cycle that sometimes comes with materialism. Having less things, have also allowed me to take care of each thing that I have even more, and also, in a weird way, even though I threw most of my stuff out, I’m more willing than before to share them with others. Maybe it’s because in the end, the only things I kept were things that I truly loved.
Now, lets not get ahead of ourselves here, because I’m not a guru, I’m nowhere near an expert. There’s still a load of stuff in my apartment, but the point is, it’s a lot less than before. I still want to go on a shopping spree, and sometimes cave in and do so, but the point is, I’m doing it less. Making the effort, however small, can have significant affects on not just yourself, but also your surroundings, and it’s so important.
Nor am I suggesting that everyone should alter their lifestyle to this minimalistic one, but just imagine for a second, how intimately connected our lives are. I didn’t understand it in the beginning, and sometimes still struggle to now, because I don’t see the direct connection. The connection that means what I choose to buy and throw away, affects the lives of people thousands of miles away, for better or for worse. The connection that the money I give to companies in good faith that all the employees are equally paid, may not be the case for the very basic fabric makers. That because its not something I can see, it’s not present. Unfortunately though, it is. But fortunately, we can do something about it.
Question is, will you?
Hope you all have a lovely weekend. x