“Consumption consists of people spending money they don’t have to buy goods they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” – Australian economist Clive Hamilton
When I see articles like the one published on the young fashion entrepreneurs and founders of Bib & Tuck, , it drives me even more to pursue sustainable choices in fashion, but also in my life as a whole now. Researching more and more on consumerism and the impact that an individual’s consumption has on society at a global scale and the impact it can also reek on a personal level…I am becoming more and more determined to not only turn a new leaf, so to speak, and focus on my consumption however, to also contribute and reverse the impact I would have no doubt caused.
You only need to look at some of my previous blogs to see that I have gone astray in conscious, sustainable and down right normal behaviours in fashion and spending. I feel embarrassed and foolish to say the least and want to make an influential change in my behaviour.
As with many world issues, it always seems so distant to the reality of our daily lives. However from just some, tip of the iceberg research, the below facts show just how devastating personal consumption is and the effects:
- Freshwater withdrawals have tripled over the last half-century and demand for freshwater is increasing by 64 billion cubic meters annually.
- Calculations show that the planet has available 1.9 hectares of biologically productive land per person to supply resources and absorb wastes—yet the average person on Earth already uses 2.3 hectares worth. These “ecological footprints” range from the 9.7 hectares claimed by the average American to the 0.47 hectares used by the average Mozambican.
- Bangladesh has about 4,500 garment workers, behind only China as the world’s biggest clothing exporter.
- Reported incidents of 2,400 people fainting in 2011 at Cambodian shoe and clothing factories have been attributed in part to poor ventilation and malnutrition. According to the Cambodian Coalition for Apparel Workers, minimum wage in Cambodia is about $66 a month, barely half of what’s necessary to meet the most basic human needs.
- 12 percent of the world’s population lives in North America and Western Europe and accounts for 60 percent of private consumption spending, but a third of humanity who live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa account for only 3.2 percent.
- Seven hundred gallons of water are used to produce one T-shirt while 800 million people across the globe live without water (Bib & Tuck – http://vitaminw.co/business/bib-tuck-sustainable-young-entrepreneurs)
For me it’s not about turning my back on what I love however having an understanding of what the impact was of my fashion choices and how to fix it, supporting brands that support sustainable and eco production and also contribute in some way to reducing my own consumption and reducing/reversing my global footprint.
So far…the efforts I have undertaken include:
- Started selling my ridiculously large wardrobe to reduce the size but ultimately, to raise funds to donate to relevant charities and also to utilise towards establishing a more sustainable lifestyle (i.e. purchased a sewing machine to start embarking on DIY projects rather than buying a new item each and every time I want something)
- As above, planned some DIY clothing projects that not only keeps my busy and creative, allows me to create my own trends and clothes rather than purchasing. I read somewhere that the average American purchases 64 new clothing items per year. Shockingly mine would probably be double this, triple even…I am determined to reduce my unnecessary consumption.
- Attended DA meetings and counselling. As mentioned, for me, there are also personal issues with regards to my consumption and spending behaviour. I am attempting to also manage this pro actively and understand the physiological drivers behind my behaviour.
- Contacted preferred brands and asking them about their views and activities relating to free trade and sustainability. You only have to google child slave labour to get an idea of previous brands that have come under the radar in regards to the support or disregard to child labour practices. If anything, I wanted to become a more informed shopper when I decide to spend my dollars, ensuring I am not indirectly supporting these practices to. There is so much information out there now that we can no longer claim ignorance to these issues.
- Donating to slavery.org (my goal is $1000 by Jan 2014)
- Started this blog to share my story