Originally written for and published by Model Behaviors May 13, 2015*
Life is speeding up, and with that, our demands are accelerating for newer, faster, and cheaper. We expect things yesterday, and that means corners have to be cut. What’s the effect of all this? Humans and the environment are suffering. Try as brands might, the current systems set in place establish the precedent that there is just no profitable way around it. These days though, while living in a global economy, the effects our daily ripples have are far greater now than even ten years ago.
We have stripped developing countries’ lands for textiles in supporting fast fashion and high street fashion retailers, and we’ve also perpetuated this idea that humans are as disposable as the fashions they make. The destruction is real, and the poverty level is worse. Nothing we have ever witnessed in America comes close, yet those disposable lives cannot afford to fight.
Non-living wages are better than no wages. So, essentially immobilized, it’s wrong for us to assume these garment workers can organize and fight for living wage increases, better working conditions, or even care about the environment like Americans can.
This acceleration in demand neither happened overnight, nor do I place blame entirely on corporations who make garments in unregulated countries. That would be the easy way out. No, as the consumer, our purchasing power is very real, and at the end of the day, we have asked, so they provided. However, by taking personal responsibility for our choices, and demanding better accountability and transparency across all platforms, we have the power to reduce this seemingly ever-expanding ripple.
As I mentioned previously in Clean Slate (see below), April was dedicated to bringing awareness to the plight of the earth (#EarthDay) and to fashion’s version of human slavery (#FashRev). For many though, it’s now May and those movements in April have been safely filed away for next year’s trending moment. But hold on, Earth Day isn’t supposed to just be about the hashtag or photo op.
Let’s talk about the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed over 1,100 people (another 2,500 were injured) because this tragedy was 100 percent preventable. Yet, two years and almost 17,000 #WhoMadeMyClothes later, we’re still waiting on sweeping changes in the fashion industry. Shit, any sizable changes would be an improvement. These are major conversations and topics that deserve more than just a trending moment or a bunch of green washing.
So where does that leave us?
For me, the answer to that question is incorporating sustainable fashion and conscious consumerism into my daily life.
Though the idea of a complete style overhaul can be overwhelming and asking a lot, we can’t put a price on life—any life—because we can have our fashion cake and eat it too!
My personal sustainable and animal friendly journey has been an evolution fifteen years in the making, and I’m still learning something new every day. I’d like to challenge you this May to keep April’s Earth Day movement alive and well by asking you to believe again in quality over quantity and asking questions and showing compassion.
As a visual reminder, try the Conversations in Craft Sweatshirt** (pictured above) from Study New York.
All ripples originate somewhere. Let’s change the size of this one! xoxo Kathryn
“Bleeding Hearts” art by James Goldcrown.
*the links in this article have been updated and edited from the original.