I think we've all been there.
In the trance of cheap clothing joyfully wondering how on earth can this garment be so cheap and without further thinking we are already walking back home with it.
But you are probably wondering:
Where do these heavenly bargains come from?
Here's the deal:
In 1960s' 95% percent of the clothes in the US market were made in the US. Today the amount has shrunk to 3%.
In 1981 British clothing and footwear industry imported only 29% of all it sold. By 2001 it was already importing 90%.
In Finland only a handful of brands are still manufacturing in Finland and the amount has been shrinking down during the past years.
And you know how the story continues...
It's normal to want to look good
Because it's human nature.
Throughout history people have been communicating who they are through clothing. If you look at the different time periods, there's always been prevailing trends. This is normal to human nature.
But we need to start understanding what has happened to the fashion industry and how we have become pieces of game to it.
So we have to look deeper into Fashion Industry:
Fashion industry today
There used to be a fashion system of four seasons, spring, summer, autumn, winter.
Today we have 52 seasons. Something new is coming into stores every week. It's not about people anymore. The way of productions looks only after big business interest.
You don't fit into their thinking and neither does the girl in Bangladesh who works with a salary of 2 € per day. The goal is to make as much as possible as cheap as possible to collect the profits. The question is, do we want to be part of this game?
5 tips for more sustainable shopping
Here are five tips to get you started with your more sustainable lifestyle:
1. Think before you buy
Too often we end up buying new stuff just because we want it. Start thinking if you really need the thing you're about to buy or do you possibly have something similar already. If we can reduce demand by making smart choices and stop buying every other thing we see then eventually the supply will reduce as well.
2. Buy Second hand
The best choice socially and environmentally is not to buy at all second best is to buy second hand.
Because it's already made. It won't use more resources for manufacturing it'll only wait for becoming landfill, unless somebody buys it again.
3. Made in where?
A lot of cheap manufacturing happens in third world countries where people are mostly working in very poor working conditions. In 2013 Rana Plaza, an eight-story commercial building in Dhaka Bangladesh collapsed and caused over 1000 people's death and left approximately 2500 people injured.
The cause? Cheap clothing!
The factories have no choice but to make cheaper and cheaper clothes in a shorter amount of time than ever before. This directly results in neglected working conditions and salaries so low, they're not enough to have basic needs met.
And to be frank, cheap clothing doesn't only have an effect on the people who make them but also on us buyers as we get poor quality clothing with cheap or even dangerous materials due to toxic chemicals used in the production process.
By changing our shopping habits we can start the change towards a fairer and greener world of fashion.
4. How much?
Usually cheap price implies to cheap manufacturing and therefore bad working conditions and other things we've discussed above.
But there are expensive brands that also use cheap manufacturing and are guilty for same neglecting as their cheaper comparisons.
That's why it's important to get to know the brand before buying from them. look for their social and ecological policies and get to know their supply chain. If they're doing things responsibly they usually are open about it on their website.
There are social business platforms that help you to find these brands such as newly launched http://kehko.com/ that collects all kinds of social businesses from food to accessories.
5. Look into materials
Pay attention to what materials your clothes are made of. While most materials we use on our clothing are somewhat harmful to the environment some are less than others.
Most synthetic materials are derived from coal, air, water and petroleum whereas cotton as a natural fibre needs a lot of water to grow not to mention the GMO cotton that is very harmful to soil and people who have to work with it.
Look for organic and recycled materials:
For example jacket made out of recycled PET bottles is much better choice than jacket made out of raw polyester. Organic cotton might be high in water consumption but it's safe to farm and because it's GMO free the farmers can grow food in the same land and are safe from toxic pesticides and are not dependant on expensive supplies.
There are brands that use recycled materials that are better for the environment for many reasons. The material is already there it saves a lot of energy and other recourses to reproduce such as water and oil and if nobody reused it, well then it would end up to landfill.
Look for certificates like bluesign, GOTS and Fair Trade for ethical and ecological guarantee.
Be smart with your consuming and ask questions. These two things will give you a good kickstart towards more sustainable lifestyle.
Lucy Siegle, To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World, Fourth Estate, 2008
The True Cost - A Documentary Film. http://truecostmovie.com/