Have you ever thought you could save the planet in your own home? Of course it’s good to recycle and conserve more water. Maybe, like me, you’ve signed a few petitions for good causes, but what could your normal day-to-day things really do to help to save the planet?
Can you really hold the power of saving the planet in your own home?
The short answer is YES! And there’s 3 great ways you can.
There’s a bit more to it though. Part of it takes us back to the very basics.
All of us know it’s good to recycle because a lot of effort has been put into teaching us about it. But there are actually 3 R’s if we remember right. There’s the first: REDUCE. Then the second is: REUSE, and LAST is RECYCLE. Notice the order? To be honest – I didn’t. I prioritized them more like this:
Recycle (for the most part), Reuse (every now and then), and (rarely) Reduce.
A few months ago you’d just have to look into my closet to see that there was no reducing of any kind going on there! And wearing the same 3 or 4 outfits sadly doesn’t qualify as reusing either. Sure, I would get the declutter bug every now and then and give some stuff away but, let’s be real- I’d just as soon fill it up again. Anyone with me?
It turns out there are some real monsters in your closet. Those unassuming tops and seemingly harmless jeans hanging in your closet are adding to one of the scariest and fastest forms of killing off the planet today, as well as encouraging terribly inhumane business practices.This brings us to the first way you can save the planet in your own home:
STOP SUPPORTING FAST FASHION!
It’s been around for many years but it’s likely you haven’t heard much about fast fashion. In fact, you’ve most likely shopped fast fashion pretty regularly without even knowing it. Fast fashion is exactly what it sounds like; fashion that is quickly taken from the catwalk to the racks and shelves of your favorite store in little time and at little cost. It seams harmless, I mean who doesn’t want a chic bargain?
Problem is, you only see the finished product beautifully displayed at your favorite store. It’s what you don’t see before it gets to you that would give that piece of clothing an entirely new look. Here’s a short preview for you to watch from the documentary The True Cost movie:
See- fast fashion has taken what was previously 2 seasons (spring/summer & fall/winter) and turned it into 52 micro-seasons per year, which means there are new things coming into retailers, at minimum, every week!
To be able to consistently have numerous, brand-new, finished products delivered every week into all these stores takes a lot of manpower and added costs. That is where the use of overseas manufacturers came in and created a monster. These retailers on the fast fashion train will have you believe that they are giving you what you need, but the reality is they don’t intend to tell you the whole truth.
Instead, they hit you with ads targeting you everywhere you go; in magazines, on tv, text alerts, social media, and all over the web- constantly feeding you the lie that you need more to be good enough. Making you believe that with a new shirt today, and jeans the next, and of course a new dress for that party this weekend- oh, and let’s not forget the shoes to match; then you will be hip, loved, and accepted by all.
Don’t be fooled any longer! They are in the business of making you feel less so you’ll buy more- chasing after trends you could never possibly keep up with.
All the while they are exploiting defenseless people for cheap labor overseas and making you dish out more of your hard-earned money for clothes that they know will fall apart just about as fast as they took to produce it. It’s become all about cheap quality and high volume rather than fair practices and good quality, and all at the expense of so many lives and precious resources. For example, did you know:
- The typical wage of a garment worker, most of whom are female, is less than $3 a day. A work day can be anywhere from 12-16 hours with no overtime pay. If they are sick they are still required to work or else risk being fired and they are not provided health care.
- Approximately 168 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in forced labor. Often these children are put to work in garment factories, and are deprived from their right to getting an education.
- Garment workers are literally dying to make your clothes. The factories where they work are known to be terribly constructed, have bars on the windows, padlocked emergency exits- often leaving only one way in and one way out, as well as a guard to enforce limits of restroom breaks. One of several instances these conditions have proved fatal was during the infamous collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh where over 1,000 workers died and 2,500 were injured. It was reported that this was after factory owners were warned of the danger the day before the collapse and managers only responded by threatening workers that if they did not report to work the next day they would be docked a full months pay!
- A quarter of a million cotton farmers in India have committed suicide in the last 15 years. This is partly because they lost their land that provided for their families to seed companies who sold them expensive modified seeds that they were told would improve their yield, but didn’t.
- A whopping 80 billion pounds of clothes are consumed worldwide every year. Breaking it down to what an average person throws away in the U.S.; you toss about 80 pounds of used clothes every year! That’s 400% more than was consumed just two decades ago, and of that only 15% is actually recycled!
- According to the EPA, every year in the U.S. 11.1 million tons of textiles end up in our landfills and can take hundreds of years to decompose, releasing toxins into the air and contaminating the planet. Even those clothes made of natural fibers won’t compost safely because they’ve been processed unnaturally with chemical baths, bleaches, prints and dyes made with heavy metals like lead and mercury. Synthetic fibers like polyester pose the same problem because it biodegrades similarly to plastic as they are made from petroleum.
- Thousands of liters of water are wasted to make a single piece of clothing. That’s right! With the amount of water used to make a single pair of jeans you could hose down your lawn for 9 straight hours, and for one t-shirt you could flush the john a whopping 250 times! Sadly, this water can’t be reused due to the chemicals used in textile processing.
Some retailers will justify that they are not responsible for the practices these manufacturers use or tell us that they stand behind flimsy codes of conduct that are actually only voluntary and not enforced. But now that you have begun to see the true affects, are you really going to accept that lack of accountability?
Human lives and the planet’s natural resources should not be taken advantage of so grossly just to increase the bottom line of these fashion companies and feed an unnecessarily high demand from consumers that encourage greater poverty and more waste.
Stay tuned for part 2 and 3 of the Fast Fashion movement posts!