Participating in Dressember last month I learned a lot about the connection between modern-day slavery and the fashion industry. "Fast Fashion" or inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends, is directly correlated with poor working conditions because the industry demands such fast production of cheap clothing.
Fast fashion is not only encouraging sweatshops but is terrible for the environment. Since these clothing items must be made quickly and cheaply, they are not high quality and wear out easily, often after one season of wear. Since these clothes wear out so quickly they end up in landfills because they cannot be donated or sold.
When I realized how much of my clothing I purchase from cheaper retailers I was astonished at what I had unconsciously been supporting. How can I claim to care about human trafficking and continue to give my business to companies that are built on sweatshops and forced labor? And what about my intentions for sustainability? I cannot very well claim to care about purchasing more sustainable products and reducing my carbon footprint if I still buy clothing I know I will have to throw away after very few uses. So I am not. I am no longer purchasing clothing from such places. That may seem like a big sacrifice but it really isn't when I think of the alternative: sweatshops and environmental turmoil.
But what do I do if I need new clothes now? Aren't ethical fashion brands more expensive? Well yes, they are but there are many reasons why they are actually more cost effective. Primarily they force me to buy less clothing. I truly do not need the number of clothes I have in my closet. In America, we love having stuff and we think we need more more more. Being conscientious of where my clothes are coming from and what other people were forced to make them causes me to consider whether or not I really need another sweatshirt or graphic tee.
I buy more things secondhand or at Goodwill. It is fun to hunt for quality clothes at thrift stores and I have found great deals that a sustainable way to give (possibly) less ethically made clothing a chance to have a second "life" instead of filling up a landfill.
I am passionate about ending modern slavery. I do not believe I can purchase "fast fashion" items and say that. So if that means making a small sacrifice and budgeting accordingly so that I can purchase ethically made clothing then that is what I will do. Would you consider joining me?