consumerism

find me at Seasons & Salt today!

true cost movie consumerism
Film Still from The True Cost movie; text and effect added by me

When Andrea (of this helpful capsule wardrobe post) asked me if I could write on "the importance of considering where your clothes come from," I was convinced I'd have a hard time with it. After all, I write on this topic a few times a week for Style Wise. But I'm thankful for the challenge, because it forced me to expand my focus from the day-to-day issues and crystallize a lot of my thoughts about behemoth topics like labor, consumerism, and capitalism. 

You can read my post, Knowing Who Made Your Clothes Matters, on the Seasons & Salt blog today. Thanks for having me, Andrea.

a good read: ecouterre's eco-fashion predictions

Ecouterre recently asked 37 ethical and eco-minded designers, leaders, and organizers what 2015 holds for the sustainable fashion industry. Though no one knows for sure how things will pan out, most believe that this may be the year the movement hits critical mass. Things are changing, and with starlets and world leaders talking about it and wearing conscientious clothing, the larger population is sure to join in soon.

image source: ecouterre

The difficult thing about discussing fair trade, for me at least, is that it's always a give and take between endorsing sustainable brands and limiting consumption and consumerist ideals. If fair trade becomes a trend, that means we can get a lot of people motivated to spend their money on things that make a difference. But I'm a big believer that motives matter. Ideally, a move toward sustainability will include thoughtfulness and conviction, and help us slow down a bit in our race to get what's new and better. In the short term at least, it can't be helped that we're forcing ethical ideals into the Capitalist framework that forms our economic identity. But we should try to acknowledge that the consumerist system we live within is a construct. It does not represent all possible realities. We must strive to change shopping habits and hearts. We don't have to settle for less.

All that said, I am really inspired by what these ethical leaders have to say about the future of sustainable fashion and I'm in a bit of disbelief that changes are happening quickly and on an international scale. Let's keep fightin' the good fight. Let's keep reassessing what our goals are and what they should be!

A few excerpts:

Over the past year, we’ve seen the end of greenwashing as an industry practice as more designers and brands focus on the internal shifts within their companies and supply chains needed for real actionable change. While the importance of the consumers' education for better quality fashion still exists, 2015 will be a year for retooling internal operations. - Lewis Perkins
And, as consumers are made increasingly aware that both fast fashion and fast luxury are responsible for unethical fashion, I predict the resurrection of the artisan, as we collectively look into our heritage, as well as innovation, for sustainable solutions. - Orsola de Castro
On the brighter side, Fashion Revolution enters its second year. Carrying on the groundswell of international support, the global conversation will be opened even further. More people than ever before will demand to know that their clothing has not been made at the expense of people or the planet, and the public will expect that brands are able to ensure this. - Sarah Ditty

All quotes excerpted from Ecouterre's 37 Eco-Fashion Predictions for 2015

12 months, 12 goals: shop secondhand

secondhand shopping

It dawned on me, as I flipped and flipped through endless blouses at a local Goodwill on Monday, that thrift shops will never run out of items for me to add to my closet. Sure, there are a few items (like underwear) that I'd rather not purchase at the thrift store, but really, there's a lot to be found if you take the time to look.

A few of my prized thrift finds include LL Bean Duck boots, a BCBG Max Azria Flapper-style dress, and several items in pristine condition that I wear so much I forgot I bought them on the secondhand market.

And if that's not enough, internet marketplaces and local vintage shops allow me to shop curated collections when I'm not in the mood to spend 2 hours searching through crowded racks. I buy most of my shoes secondhand on ebay; I've purchased like-new Minnetonka moccasins and several pairs of sneakers for a third of their original price. I found my favorite vintage dresses on etsy and ebay.

The marketplace is flooded with piles of discarded clothing with plenty of wear left, so why do we insist on buying new? Secondhand shopping is easier than it's ever been - we can do it from our couches - so we really have no reason not to try it.

People are often confused about the ethical value of secondhand shopping, noting that many donated goods were likely produced in sweatshops. What they aren't connecting is that the thrift market doesn't operate according to traditional supply-and-demand principles; if you buy cast-offs, you aren't participating in the traditional market at all. Instead, you're opting out; you're boycotting; you impact it only because you're avoiding it. We're nowhere near operating in a market in which demand for secondhand items exceeds supply, so we can rest assured that we do no harm (to others, at least) when we make it rain at the thrift store.

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