I look out at the world around me, analysing the curvature of the tree branches swaying fiercely in the bleak wintery gusts. I hear the distant chirping of vulnerable baby birds, calling out to their absent mothers. I inhale the fresh cold air, feeling it make its way through my body, to my two working lungs, giving me the life to live. I am present, I am content. But not even my five senses can ignore the hidden damage under the surface of this beauty that surrounds me. The quiet echo of the earth begging for saviour as minute by minute, the earth slowly dies.
I was listening to one of my favourite meditative podcasts the other day. It really got me thinking about how much I as a person rely on nature every single day; whether that being for exercise, creative inspiration or even just to look at. The episode briefly reflected the amount of studies that have proven nature to be a therapeutic element in our lives that assists our mind, body and soul, and I couldn’t agree more. Living in a Covid 19 world, nature is the one thing that is on offer to us during lockdown and for many, it has been their daily saving grace. I can certainly say it has been mine. So why are we contributing to the killing of our environment? When I ask this question, I specifically mean our contribution to the fast fashion industry; the second most polluting industry in the world.
As you may or may not know, the fast fashion industry has been a growing concern since the rise of the industry twenty years ago. Even with our increased awareness of the environmental and humanity treatment, we as consumers are still not showing the love and respect to our world that we should. We definitely have the right to sit and point our finger at these fast fashion companies who contribute to the destruction of our world but what we also have is the right, as consumers, to change our own habits and try to find conscious alternatives where we can still enjoy fashion, but not carry on living with this guilty conscience that deep down we all have.
Quantity, and the lack of quality, is a major change that has been identified through our shopping habits since the first traces of the fast fashion industry. With the industry turning out 52 micro-seasons a year, the pressure and expectation to keep on top of trends as well as feeling the need to buy new things is at its highest due to fashion marketing schemes using their persuasive mechanisms to entice their customers. Many don’t identify nature as a living and breathing organism therefore, contributing to a damaging and harmful industry such as fast fashion has zero effect on one’s conscience, making them feel distanced from the consequences of their purchases. None-the-less, it is important to recognise that even though nature isn’t a living person, there are people involved within the process of fast fashion who’s lives are being effected by this dangerous industry - a well known example being workers involved within the Rana Plaza catastrophe in 2013.
If you’re reading this thinking; ‘how can I change my natural instinctive habits surrounding the way I shop?’, this section is for you.
Allow me to add that no one is expecting you to be perfect with your shopping habits because in all honesty, perfect is impossible to achieve. Imbedding small changes in your life to ensure you’re making more conscious choices won’t only help nature and the workers involved within the fast fashion industry, but it will also heal your guilty conscience. Here are some ways in which you can shop more consciously going forward:
Buy less: Before buying something think to yourself; ‘Do I really need this’. If the answer is no, put the item back and think about all the good you’re doing by reducing the amount you are buying.
Shop second hand: Not only is second hand a much more sustainable way to shop - by helping to reduce the amount of clothes being sent to landfill every year - but it is also a fun way to shop, enabling you to adopt a unique personal style and it also allows you to support your favourite charities.
Support small local businesses: This reduces the transportation of ordered items online which is another contributor to global pollution. This way of shopping is also a great way to support local businesses around you who are probably struggling during lockdown.
Buy from ethical brands: There are plenty of ethically conscious brands out there who have the right intentions and values to help save our planet. It is true that sustainable fashion has a higher price point however remind yourself its all about the quality, not the quantity.
Swap clothes: This is an extremely joyful way to enjoy fashion. Swapping clothes with friends and family is another second hand way to shop but a little bit more closer to home and the most affordable one of them all.
After you have read this, go outside, breathe in the fresh air, and think about how lucky we are to have nature as our neighbour. No matter where you are - city or countryside - we all have access to a little bit of blue sky - a little bit of hope. Fashion can’t offer us longterm happiness, but the world around us can. It offers us life and experiences and without a healthy environment, we can no longer live healthy lives. Let’s bring back life in nature and allow it to rise, and let fast fashion rightfully fall.