As conscious consumers, how can we address the problems brought on by a massive textile footprint?

As consumers, we have a power we do not exercise very often, either because we think it would not make a difference or because we think it would be too complicated.

Ultimately, money is the only thing that would make companies move in one direction or another, either we like it or not.

Once retailers start realizing they are losing customers and thus, money, they would start changing. Companies will move where money is, following trends that support sustainability, caring about human rights, protecting the environment, I believe this is possible if we only force them to do so by making a choice. We do not accomplish anything by complaining about social media on how unfair those practices are. Our choices and actions make the difference, being selective on where we spend our money, supporting brands that care about workers, reducing their footprint, engaging in fair-trade practices. By investing money in causes that would benefit garment workers around the world, the environment, we have the greatest opportunity to change an entire industry. Instead of choosing whatever is cheap, if we start choosing what is right, the lives of many people around the world would change, including ours.

We currently live in a globalized economy, everything and everyone is connected. What happens in other parts of the world affect us soon or later, for good or bad. It would be naïve to think we live in a bubble and the injustice living in countries such as Bangladesh would never make a negative impact in our lives. Giving away comfort is not easy. It is now very common to replace what is broken, things and even people are disposable as other cheaper options are available. What would be our motivation to shift from cheap to right? Some people need reasons to do things right, some would not do anything at all, another rare and not enough percentage of the population would do the right thing just because it is right. From incentives, communication, and education, companies, organizations, governments and individuals have addressed the need of recycling and taking care of the environment, hoping that rare percentage of people would increase.

Clothing has always been a way to express ourselves, some people would think it is art we live every day of our lives. Even though it may not be perceived nicely, what you wear says a lot about your personality, spending habits, income, confidence, roots and so on. Imagine our clothes could speak, if there was a color or visible label for everything we wear. Some would say: “I was made with sustainable fabrics”, “I care about human rights”, “I am disposable”, “I am cheap”.

For those people who do not need those labels and want to do something but don’t know where to start, these are some actions that, I think, would help reduce the textile footprint:

  • Buy quality, durable clothes and slow fashion designs. It is all about style, class, clothes that would pass the test of time.
  • Fix your clothes instead of throwing them. The more positive side is that you could tailor the clothes to your body instead of tailor your body into the shape other people think all women should have.
  • Swap it. Take a look to all that is in your closet, there are things in perfect condition but that for some reason or another, you don’t wear anymore or as often as you would like. It is time for a change. You could start with family, friends and even neighbors, this would also help to refresh your wardrobe, and releasing some space from things you don’t need anymore.
  • Spread the word. We need a shift in our views regarding clothes, where we get it from and what is behind those big brands. The more people understand the message and see value on it, the better.
  • Get informed. Information is a powerful weapon if used correctly, we have the chance to change for good, there is still time.

By: Lyanne Nunez


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