Out of style

Out of Style

The world we live in today is a complicated, fast-paced place with many problems. I want to dedicate this essay to the environmental and ethical issues while keeping the focus predominantly on (fast) fashion and its impacts. I consider raising awareness about consumerism and the materialistic character of society vital, since it may very well destroy our planet. Fast fashion is, by its definition, a production of inexpensive clothing by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. This makes for a lot of thrill for consumers, but not so much for our environment. This text is an attempt to explain the underlying issue and show some ways to address the issue.

First and foremost, we should talk about production. Products one can buy in stores like H&M or Zara are standardly manufactured somewhere in the Third World Countries. T-Shirts usually cost about $5. You may be asking, how is it possible to produce, deliver and advertise products for this price? To keep the costs low, the conditions and salaries of the workers are poor. Mass production plays a factor, as well. There are significant amounts of excess, and most of it, instead of it being sold for a lower price, is destroyed to preserve the prestige of the brand. Not to mention, the transport to the other side of the planet creates an enormous environmental cost as well.

So far, it seems like boycotting fast-fashion might be a solution, but that does not get to the root of the problem. There are many companies, whose advertising shows eco-friendly practices, which might seem amazing at first, but we have to realize that such ads still make us purchase more. No matter how low the product’s carbon footprint is, there are better options. Those are, for example, buying second-hand clothes or not buying anything at all.

One approach to tackle this problem as an individual is the philosophy of minimalism. It is the choice of less; less useless items, essentially. This seems like a very reasonable method, but this philosophy is currently evolving in a different direction. Sadly, nowadays, minimalism is becoming more about aesthetics than anything else. People living this lifestyle often buy overpriced stuff and routinely swap the items for new ones. Does not seem like a perfect solution after all, does it? There are other options, for instance, essentialism, that come with similar ideas.

Maybe a less radical way would be to just buy less and choose well. We could also incorporate the consideration of transparency of a brand, in terms of workers' conditions and eco-friendly procedures. Companies like Fair Trade specialize in labelling goods, which are sustainable, and meet the required social and environmental standards, which makes those products easily distinguishable.

Shopping to fill in the voids in our lives has become a standard, that should be questioned. There are growing communities of people living by philosophies such as minimalism, but the vast majority of people does not see this as an important problem. Considering the recent events of students marching in protest of politicians' carelessness to the environment, I believe there is hope. Greta Thunberg, the originator of the demonstrations, is an excellent example of someone who thinks globally and acts locally. Is it not what we all should do?