by Tabassum Siddiqui, Head Designer
I had a very different blog post planned for today but when I thought about the tragic Rana Plaza garment factory collapse near Dhaka, Bangladesh earlier this month, I wanted to say something about it.
I just think it’s insane that more than 1,000 people—mostly women—had to lose their lives all because big fashion brands continue to cut corners to drive down costs and churn out even more products, even if it endangers the lives and safety of their workers and our environment.
But why are fashion brands trying to get their clothing made as cheaply as possible? Is it only to have bigger profit margins or is it also because we keep demanding more stuff and really cheap stuff at that?
Are we also responsible for what happened in Bangladesh?
So I thought that this blog could either go 2 ways—I could go on this long rant about how our blind rampant consumerist lifestyle and this "fast fashion" model have reached a cataclysmic level of destruction in the lives and homelands of those who produce our goods and in our world at large (which I‘m sure you are aware of...I hope). Or I could share 4 ways that can help us become more compassionate when it comes to how and what we consume, how to extend the life of our clothing , and more importantly how to become the change that we desperately need in our world right now. Yeah, I thought the second option was more motivating too.
4 Ways To Become A More Conscious Consumer:
1. Buy less but of more quality.
Yes, the “less is more” phrase is back. Think about how refreshing it would be to open a closet that isn’t exploding with stuff but rather housing only a few well-made, beautiful and loved pieces? The focus here is on buying “high quality, well-made” clothes that make you look your best. They last longer and you save more money in the long run. Also, having less stuff means less stuff to clean and keep up.
To help you get a zen-like closet, for every new item you buy, you have to give something away.
This strategy prevents you from accumulating more stuff and when you have to think about giving up something you love in order to get something new, you’ll think twice about that next purchase.
2. Choose sustainable brands whenever possible that have organic and fairly traded products.
This is important. We can’t change this "fast fashion" model if we continue to support unethical fashion brands. When you’re out shopping and there is an ethical option available, then chose it. And if you can, actively search for sustainable companies and shop from them too. Many smaller brands are trying to do things more ethically, using textiles that are free from pesticides and other highly toxic chemicals, and making sure that if they outsource work that it is done with a cooperative where the artisans directly benefit from the venture and their local community too.
We want to increase the demand for not only ethically made goods but also ethical companies and hopefully this will set the standard for bigger fashion brands.
It is has already started. Now, some well-known fashion companies have slowly started to work with organic textiles and have gotten involved with fair trade cooperatives.
3. Stretch those creative muscles
Before running out to the mall or hopping online to find another new outfit for that event you have to go to, check your closet first or that of your sibling, or your close friends. I’m sure you have something in there that you can re-style or add different accessories to make it feel like a different outfit.
Gotta a sewing machine that’s just collecting dust? Up-cycle some of your clothes to give them a makeover and give it some personality. Since most of our clothes probably come from the same mainstream stores, we all tend to look alike, so break out of the norm and add your own touches. Need some style inspiration? Check out this book
from the sustainable fashion brand Alabama Chanin
where they sew everything by hand.
If you wish you knew how to sew or fix your garments yourself, then check out some of the thousands of online tutorials on You Tube or websites like Creative Bug
where you can pay for video tutorials to learn all kinds of techniques and skills.
Another cool idea is to try creating a workshop with other skilled people in your community and learn how to quilt, knit, sew, darn, and more.
You’ll not only have a lot of fun, spend the day learning something new, but also strengthen your community. Haven’t got a clue what a workshop like this could look like? Check out the website www.thegoodwardobe.com
and this video about the Sew It Forward program:
Sew it Forward: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dImHFmC2PpM
I know you’ve got a stack (or two) of clothes that is occupying valuable real estate in your closet and dare I say, some with the price tags still on them? Hold a community clothing swap or with just a group of friends and get creative with it. It’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe without spending more money and you get to hang out with your friends too. Oh, and did I mention it’s another awesome community strengthening activity ? Don’t know how to get started? Check out www.clothingswap.com
for more ideas and details.
4. Expand your heart.
The single biggest problem we have in our world today is a lack of love.
I was listening to an amazing interview with Marianne Williamson the other day that totally blew my mind. She’s an international author and lecturer she explained how our lack of love in our interactions with others is what causes misery and suffering not only in our own lives but in the lives of others no matter where they are in the world.
When we act from a place of love, we wouldn’t allow people to work in slave-like conditions. When we act from a place of love, we wouldn’t create a system of consumption that creates an imbalance in our ecosystem and that forces even children into working in highly toxic cotton fields (for example, in Uzbekistan) so that we can have new cotton tops to wear every single day. We wouldn’t look at children in other parts of the world as “their” children but as “our” children. When we use this pure intelligent energy that is love, then garment companies wouldn’t use toxic dyes to dye our clothes that would later contaminate the water and leave people without safe drinking water.
Once we shift our perceptions from out of control, fear, and scarcity-based thinking to a mindset that is positive and abundant, and shift the type of energy we use to operate in this world to one that is based on love, then a harmonious existence on our planet is possible. We can practice this right now on a personal level in the choices that we make every single day—we have to choose love.
In the comments section below, please share 1 way how you pledge to become a more conscious consumer or what are you already doing right now as a conscious consumer that can inspire others. If you liked this post, "like it" and please share it with your friends and subscribe to our blog.