Sustainable Living

FAST Fashion and UNfair Trade, Are YOU Promoting It?

Fast Fashion Clothing
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Unfair trade and it’s relationship with the concept of “Fast Fashion” has been intelligently described in a powerful Netflix documentary,  “The True Cost”.

A lazy Saturday morning with a cozy couch and a smart TV, led to a dramatic ignition of mine and my husband’s heart. An American family that lives comfortably without the realization of how the many items in our messy closets have contributed to massive destruction of families and environments across the globe.  Upon completion of “The True Cost” film, we both knew we were part of this massive problem. We needed to figure out how to change our thoughts, our parenting, our way of life, our way of dress.

Dress Responsibly?

Our quest to dress responsibly actually began about two years ago with a simple yet profound 6th grade project. Our daughter had to create an informative website on the topic of child labor and fair trade. She was horrified to learn of young children being forced to sit in one position all day to weave rugs with their little fingers. She watched countless videos of similar scenarios across the globe including toxic working environments for clothing factories. Factories that make many of the clothes in her very closet. This quickly translated to her educating us on what we shouldn’t wear or buy. No more Nike, Gap, Forever 21 or H&M. Shopping became more challenging. Fair trade brands (& their expensive price tags) were being shoved in our faces. We were feeling bombarded by a passionate 13 year old with a huge heart but no real concept of a budget.

We were very proud of her compassion and commitment to this socially responsible way of consumption. However, we felt compelled to explain how this is simply not realistic all the time. We told her that stuff is expensive and we can’t always buy the brand that is 4x as much just because it is the right thing to do. We cautioned her not to impose her values on everyone as it may make others feel bad because they are simply trying to “keep up with the Jones’”, and probably can’t afford it.

Over the last 2 years we have respected her interest in this and have done our best to purchase Under Armor over Nike, avoid Gap and Forever 21, and at least look into some other options like Brandy Melville. At least that is made in Italy and USA so it must be better?? We are busy like many other over scheduled families and haven’t been able to truly devote time to research this issue.

The TRUE Cost of FAST Fashion

After the craziness of the holidays settled, we were able to find time to flip through Netflix and get completely absorbed in “The True Cost”.  Tears welled in my eyes as I sat cozied up on our leather couch wrapped in an IKEA blanket wearing my made in Sri Lanka pajamas. I felt like we were citizens of The Capitol watching the poor factions in the Hunger Games. We were appalled and disgusted by the over consumption and greed we have become accustomed to. We knew that our children had to watch this.

Despite our daughter’s compassion for fair trade, we could see her more recent desire to own things. She has become more exposed to material goods and has felt the wonderment of wearing beautiful things. I’ve seen her confidence boost with a cute outfit and I have fallen into glutenous spending in order to see her happy. I remember how difficult Junior High can be and I wanted to try to make it a bit easier. Our Christmas gifts this year were a stream less end of name brand clothes. I’m embarrassed to think about it now.

It’s amazing what a good documentary can do. We have been inspired. We have always been very skeptical of one sided viewpoints, however, this is not really an arguable issue. It’s a horrifying predicament we have put ourselves in. It has been termed “Fast Fashion”.

It has become the very thing that keeps our economy going at the expense of human life. Without this frivolous spending, how would our country’s economical status be? Should that matter? Yes, of course. But, so do the lives of those poor families in Bangledesh, Sri Lanka, and Ecuador, to name a few.

Living safe (relatively) and comfortably across the globe, so removed from the images in the film, I never thought about the environmental and human cost of my clothing. I justified my spending because I work hard.  I deserve that great outfit and those fabulous leather boots.

This isolated ignorant thought process was replaced, ironically, with a new question, where should we buy from now? Perhaps my question should have been, what can we live without? How can we help? Could one US family even make a difference? How could we possibly begin to address this issue of glutenous “Fast Fashion”?

Minimalism

I craved more info, more ideas. I checked out truecostmovie.com. It had some wonderful ideas but I felt I needed more info. I searched Netflix for another documentary. This led me to “Minimalism”, a story of 2 millennials moving out of their lavish corporate worlds to a life of simplicity. A life with less stuff.

I’ve seen and heard this before. In the past, it seemed like a trendy big city thing to do. A way to justify your overpriced tiny home. My fresh new eyes and ears saw and heard more this time. I was particularly captivated by their mockery of typical “needs”. I also was very intrigued by their interview with a woman, Courtney Carver, who started “Project 333”. She offers a detailed way to start figuring out how to dress more socially responsibly and minimize clutter without having to spend anything. Just what I needed.

So this is where our journey will begin…cleaning out those overstuffed closets. Care to join us?