The clothing industry has a massive impact on nature: pesticides from cotton farming, textile dyes ending up in the environment and decomposing textile waste in landfills contaminating groundwater are just some examples. In addition to the ecological harms of the fashion industry, many companies thrive by having a “profit over people” mentality. Most of our clothes nowadays are made in unethical conditions: workers are made to work extremely long hours, often in unsafe buildings, not even earning a living wage. Thinking about all the problems of the modern fashion industry can feel overwhelming, but we as consumers have the power to change this. Fashion should be and can be a positive thing, that makes us feel good about ourselves and the way the clothes were made.
The biggest issue with the way we consume fashion nowadays is how much we consume it and how fast we dispose of it: 80 billion new pieces of clothing are consumed annually on a global level, and the average American throws away 82 pounds of textile waste every year (from: http://truecostmovie.com/learn-more/environmental-impact/). So not only are we making clothes in an extremely harmful way, but we’re making those clothes at an increasing pace and in huge amounts, not even appreciating them and throwing them away after just a couple of wears.
The simplest way to avoid supporting the unsustainable and unethical practices of so many fashion retailers is to learn to appreciate the clothes you already have. By simply reducing how much you buy, you reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry. You’re saving your money, your time and the environment at the same time!
There are many benefits to learning to love your clothes: you will feel better about the way you look, if you feel like each piece of clothing you have is important to you and makes you feel good about yourself. Fast fashion advertising tells us to get rid of old trends as soon as new ones come in, but if you only buy clothes that you absolutely adore, you most likely won’t feel the need to get rid of it after only a couple of wears.
The Six Items Challenge has really opened my eyes. I remember when I picked out the six items for the challenge and saw how tiny that pile of clothes was. I was almost terrified: what have I gotten myself into? Is it possible to live with so few clothes? After almost four weeks of the challenge, I can say that it is possible, and it’s surprisingly easy.