My friend recently said something that has stuck with me. When we discussed how ethical brands cost much more than fast fashion ones, she said that wasn’t entirely true — one costs money while the other costs our souls!
People often say that lifestyle practices like eating healthy and shopping from sustainable brands are only possible for rich people because they cost too much. People who live from paycheck to paycheck cannot possibly shell out three times the cost of cheap food or fast fashion clothing for mere beliefs.
However, that’s not entirely true. The only reason we shop from fast fashion giants like Shein isn’t because they are cheap and accessible. It’s also because they encourage overconsumption and the impulsive buying of unnecessary clothing we don’t need through targeted ads and never-ending sales.
A U.S. Department of Labor report published in 2018 stated that fast fashion brands were at the forefront of child labor and forced labor practices. When we shop from fast fashion brands, we indirectly support and feed these practices, so we’re paying with our souls, alright!
In this article, we’ll break down why sustainability isn’t just for the rich. So, let’s dive in!
Overconsumption: A Common Pitfall
We keep throwing around overconsumption as the culprit behind this whole mess, but what is overconsumption? Who decides what’s enough, and where does one draw the line?
Essentially, overconsumption is the act of buying or consuming goods beyond a person’s needs, causing a lot of unnecessary waste that burdens the environment and promotes unethical production practices.
Fast Fashion brands increase their sales and get their customers addicted to shopping for their products by promoting this practice. How do they do that, and why is it bad? Let’s see.
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How Overconsumption Works
One could argue that no one’s forcing you to buy all the clothes you see. But that’s not exactly true. There are insidious ways these giant retailers make us buy stuff we don’t need, and we’ll break it down for you so you can recognize these practices for what they are!
So, how do they cause you to buy stuff you don’t need?
1. By employing influencers: In today’s world, social media is everything. We learn almost all of our daily practices from the online world, and whatever happens on social media has a massive impact on our lives. So, employing our favorite influencers to model for these brands tricks us into thinking we need to buy this stuff because our favorite social media personality approves of it.
2. By putting out sales: Do you ever get sick of getting emails about mega sales on every brand? It’s because these brands are always having one sale or another! When they slash prices drastically, we think the products we will buy are a great investment for the amount we’ll be paying. But we forget that we don’t even need those things!
3. By launching new collections every other day: Why do brands need to launch a new collection at the drop of a hat? They do that so people need to get rid of their outdated clothes and get items from the new collection. But what about the fact that you bought the clothes from the so-called outdated collection last month?
4. By copying designs from expensive brands: What do you do when you can’t afford name brands showcased at Paris Fashion Week? You buy clothes that look exactly like those collections from fast fashion retailers! Brands like Shein and Wish create dupes for high-end brands to incentivize people to buy their unethically sourced clothes.
5. By creating poor-quality items: You’ll often see that the shirt you got on sale will lose color and get torn much faster than the expensive sweater you got as a birthday present. Why is that? It’s because fast fashion brands focus on churning out new items instead of better quality. After all, who will buy from them if their clothes last for years?
Why Is It Bad?
There are several reasons why promoting overconsumption harms our lives on all fronts. Whether it is resource depletion or economic instability, you’ll find plenty of reasons why leading a sustainable lifestyle is the way to go.
Overproduction of goods bought by consumers who don’t need those things causes a massive amount of waste generation which goes into landfills and water bodies every year.
Depletion Of Non-Renewable Resources
Manufacturing textiles requires the depletion of several non-renewable resources, such as fossil fuels which leads to far-reaching environmental problems. It takes millennia to create the fuel we are wasting on manufacturing clothing we do not need to feed predatory retailers taking part in unethical business practices. These clothes go on to fill landfills every year, further causing environmental harm.
You may think this is not really that big of a problem, but 85% of the clothes bought in the U.S. every year go on to fill landfills or get incinerated, which leads to more carbon emissions.
Many farmers and manufacturers are trying untested products to grow their crops to feed the massive demand for cotton caused by fast fashion retailers. These untested products are causing health concerns due to their toxic qualities.
They say ignorance is bliss, and it is quite true because this ignorance allows us to shop from these brands while they exploit workers manufacturing clothes in unsafe living conditions. You’ll be horrified to learn that less than 2% of the 75 million factory workers producing clothing items worldwide make a living wage! Still, feel like buying that dress you saw on sale a minute ago?
So, How Do You Stop?
We know the rush of endorphins that comes with a shiny new package at the door containing beautiful dresses that you’d only seen on Instagram up until now. But think of when that feeling fades, and you leave that dress rotting in the back of your closet for months!
If that doesn’t work, it’s okay because we’ve got your back! Here are some steps to curb your shopping addiction and make the first step toward sustainability!
Old Is Truly Gold
Say; you really want to buy some clothing items and go online to check them out. Instead, why not run to the nearest thrift shop and see what it offers? You’ll find clothing gems in thrift shops that no fast fashion retailer can offer because older clothes come from a time when the focus was on quality, not creating shiny social media ads.
Stop Impulsive Buying
When you see a cute top in your ads while scrolling Instagram, don’t just immediately add it to your cart. Ask yourself first — do I need this? What value does it bring to my closet? Will I be re-wearing this on different occasions? Is this a practical choice for the current weather or my job?
Only buy outfits that pass these tests. After all, the biggest problem to tackle is to get rid of the impulse to get new clothes all day. Once that’s done, you’re halfway to leading a sustainable lifestyle!
No Compromise On Quality
We often buy cheap things from fast fashion retailers that get torn or discolored within weeks. Then, we buy new clothes to replace the ones we’ve lost, causing a vicious cycle of overconsumption. Buy quality products from sustainable brands to ensure you buy clothes that will last years and have the added benefit of being produced ethically.
Check out this REINA Sweater made from baby Alpaca Wool that is built to last you several years.
Create A Capsule Wardrobe
No one is a bigger advocate for a sustainably sourced capsule wardrobe than us! By only buying items you will repeatedly wear and pair up with different clothes, you ensure that you look the best and contribute to as little waste as possible!
RELATED: Want to learn more about how to build a capsule wardrobe? Click here!
Sustainability: A Journey for Everyone
So, why is it important to lead a sustainable lifestyle and abandon the modern-day practices of buying and discarding clothes like they cost nothing? There’s a whole plethora of reasons, and we’ll list them here!
- Looking The Best: No one looks more chic than a person who has a capsule wardrobe whose pieces they can rotate throughout the season to create versatile looks for every occasion.
- Making Ethical Choices: We all want our conscience to rest easy knowing we made the best possible choices for the environment, our economy, and the rights of factory workers, and we can do so by opting for ethical brands only.
- Having Evergreen Outfits: Investing in capsule wardrobes and shopping from high-end brands ensures you buy clothes that stay in fashion for a long time, allowing you to look your most chic while wearing them!
- Saving Money: It may not look like it at first, but you can save a ton of money by refusing to splurge on the latest sale at Shein!
Check out this Black Nénuphar Dress that checks all the boxes!
There’s no one-size-fits-all method to leading a sustainable lifestyle, which is why you can slowly ease into it by making small changes at first and later on moving to bigger ones. All you need to do is educate yourself on why going for affordable, sustainable brands is important for you, the people around you, and the planet.
So, what are you waiting for? Start your sustainability journey with the Swiss Impact Store today!
Making Sustainable Lifestyle Transformation Easy
SiS is more than a simple e-commerce platform. Our mission is to encourage, help, and inspire people to look for sustainable sourcing, reduce production waste, carbon footprint, and make conscious choices.
So all that’s left for you is to shop with peace of mind.