Humans have a problem. Consumerism has taken over, and we’re depleting our planet of not only its resources, but of its integrity.
We need to shift our society away from consumerism. We invest too much money in products that only benefit big businesses.
Companies have figured out how to lure consumers in at unfathomable rates; everyday we see ads and commercials encouraging us to buy something new.
Companies sell us the idea that with each new product they offer — clothing, electronics, cars, etc. — our lives will become more luxurious, while in reality they’re simply looking for a way to bring in more cash.
Too many big businesses only care about one thing: profit. Not only are we giving it to them, but we are also ignoring the process they take to provide us with quick products at a cheap price.
At surface level, this can seem minuscule — so, we like to shop and we don’t want to go broke doing it, what’s the big deal?
Well, what if I told you this “success” you feel after creating a new wardrobe for a cheap price is actually extremely costly and this is just another way to help our capitalist rulers of society thrive? This problem is in all industries, but the fashion industry in particular is wreaking irrevocable havoc on our planet, and it has literally killed hundreds of people. Companies are making their goods overseas, paying the laborers the bare minimum while paying no mind to their terrible working conditions, and then selling them at rates that make them billions.
Sweatshops are a terrible reality of inexpensive clothing, but we tend to ignore the consequences behind purchasing products for an unreasonably cheap price. Not only do employees in these clothing factories barely make enough to survive, they are also working in extremely hazardous environments.
I recommend watching “The True Cost” on Netflix to gain a better understanding of this nightmare we are facing. After watching, I instantly took a look at everything I was inadvertently buying into. Everything that had been out of sight was suddenly running through my mind, and I was sickened to realize how guilty I was of contributing to such a harmful marketplace.
A company that has taken big strides into fair labor is Patagonia. They now use their website to not only sell clothing, but to provide a platform for activists to promote fair trade and many other environmental movements.
We no longer buy items to use for a long time; instead, we use them up and then throw them out. On their blog, The Cleanest Line, Patagonia wrote, “Owners are empowered to take responsibility for their purchases—from proper cleaning to repairing, reusing and sharing. Consumers take, make, dispose and repeat—a pattern that is driving us towards ecological bankruptcy.”
Take some time to check out Fair Trade Certified to see what products are ethically made, and educate yourself on how to help add equity to everyone involved in production.
It’s expensive, and, as college students, we most likely won’t be able to make sure every single product we own has a fair trade label, but we need to do our best.
We can all start by using what we have, shopping at consignment shops as much as possible and doing our best to only purchase items that are fair trade.