Ever since I was young, I knew the value of a dollar–and that dollar could buy you a lot if you knew how to navigate sales racks and bargain bins.
In a world of fast fashion, I quickly became immersed in a desire for more, more, more. New clothes gave (and still does to some extent) a kind of euphoria I never knew how to explain. Materialism and American consumerism at its finest.
And yet, as I grew older and learned things about child labor, unfair wages, and unethically sourced materials, the satisfaction of getting that $5 top rapidly shrank.
I tried my best, though, to push those thoughts aside. Those issues never became a reality for me. It was and is easy to slip back into the mindset where you think your impact does not matter.
But let’s face it–the decisions we make, especially the decisions about what we buy and what companies we choose to support definitely do matter.
After returning from Kenya and Costa Rica, I find it extremely difficult to justify buying something for cheap if I know the person who made it could never afford to buy it for him or herself. And it is equally difficult to justify knowing just how much the fashion industry pollutes our environment–that I know our unwanted donated clothes are actually shipped off to developing countries, purchased for cheap, and then sold in markets to families in poverty.
It is still difficult for me to reconcile the differences in what I am so passionate about. Fashion is something I find to be such a vital part of creative expression and the human experience, though if it comes at the expense of our environmental sustainability or social well-being, I don’t know if it’s worth it.
It’s not to say that I would never buy clothes again, though.
Which brings me to the commitment I’m hoping to keep–and that I’m hoping you too can join me in.
I commit to minimizing the negative impact I will have on our earth and global society. I commit to not buying items that are not sustainably sourced and where workers are not given a living or fair wage. I commit to sticking to thrift stores if I am seeking cheap thrills, and investing in companies and clothes that are people-friendly (not made using slave or child labor) from companies that commit to minimizing their carbon footprint if I feel the need to buy something new.
I know it will be difficult, especially as a struggling university student and soon-to-be graduate. But in the grand scheme of things, is the sacrifice I’m making really a sacrifice? Ultimately, not really.
I will document my experiences here. Please let me know if you decide to join me in this.