Photo by Rita McNiell, words by Ellen Tirant
Wearing our values means buying better- being informed, seeking well designed and well made products. Knowing the impact of a purchase on all levels can lead to some of the biggest change, and we are on a mission to see some of that change.
From food to clothing to electronics, our purchases have an impact that is usually much more widespread than meets the eye.
Think about a $5 cotton t-shirt: the fibre was grown, harvested, dyed, spun, woven / knitted into fabric, produced and packaged- most likely all in different locations and transported a multitude of times. The impact of this one t-shirt can spread across continents, touch the lives of thousands of people and use an incredibly significant amount of resources. When you buy this $5 t-shirt, can you honestly say you are aware of the impact it has? If you can, great! If you can’t, it’s time to start asking some questions to really know what you’re buying.
Being a conscious consumer means making informed decisions. Get informed by asking questions- ask your favourite brands where and how their clothing is made. As consumers, we hold an incredible amount of power. Companies and brands rely on consumers to buy their products to be profitable businesses. Without our dollars, they would essentially cease to exist. Used wisely, this consumer purchasing power can enforce some serious amounts of change in the way clothing is produced, sold and consumed.
We have seen a major shift in attitudes towards fashion in recent years at the hands of internet and social media as a tool for raising awareness. The 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh saw to the opening of global eyes to the realities of garment production in developing nations. It also saw to the development of the global social movement Fashion Revolution, a movement spread through social media to raise awareness of garment production encouraging consumers to ask ‘who made my clothes’.
It saw to a wave of consumer concern for how their clothes are being made, resulting in the need for global brands such as Zara to list their sustainability policies and implement programs such as H&M’s recycling initiative. This consumer push also saw to brands sourcing and creating supply chains of ethical production as well as the creation of many stores, blogs and websites around the world advocating and selling ethically produced clothing.
Social media is widely used as a means to band together with like-minded people to work towards a common goal. Already a huge network of people are gathering all around the world to bring light to a global issue, learn and teach new practices and offer alternative choices and solutions for consumers. Buying better can involve utilising these available resources to find ways in which you can make changes in your lifestyle and consumption behaviour.
Buying better may mean buying less, it may mean buying organic or fair trade. It may mean buying one big investment item per year, or it may mean buying directly from the producer. Find how buying better can fit within your lifestyle. Start with asking asking questions, doing some research and understanding how your choices impact people and the planet.