If you're anything like me, getting a new outfit can be exciting, especially if you find it at a bargain price. I've often rewarded myself with a new pair of leggings or sweater after a stressful couple of weeks, and if it's inexpensive, even better!
But have you ever thought about why some clothes are so cheaply priced? How is it possible to buy a shirt for a mere five dollars, or a pair of pants for twelve?
The answer isn't as pretty as this year’s spring florals. What's really going on behind those prices is a resource-intensive and exploitative business model that is simply unsustainable from start to finish.
Clothing companies can afford to sell cheap merchandise because they’re saving money on the other end of the supply chain -- in its production. The real people producing your clothes typically live in developing countries and work up to 14 hours a day for less than 7 dollars a week, exposing themselves to cancer-causing chemicals as they dye, cut, and sew hundreds of textiles.
On top of the horrible working conditions, an enormous amount of water goes to waste in textile production. Hazardous dyes and debris are usually dumped into nearby rivers and streams, polluting water sources for local people and animals, while the actual manufacturing of clothes requires absurd amounts of water.Producing a single pair of blue jeans demands 1,800 gallons of water -- the equivalent of a fire truck’s storage tank!
So what can we do? At this point, trying make moderate improvements to an already impractical clothing industry will not create lasting change unless we get to the source of the problem. What we really need to do is shift our consumerist mentality that encourages us to buy, buy buy!
My Grandma Leona, who grew up in the Great Depression Era of the 1930s, often reminded us to “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” This is the kind of mentality we need to adopt -- the one of reusing and repurposing, not one of reckless consumerism. We need to stop allowing companies to trick us into thinking we constantly need to invest in the latest and greatest style or smartphone, because we don’t need to. And if we care at all for our planet and for future generations that will soon stand where we’re standing now, we can’t afford to.
We can break this chain with a simple choice: deciding to invest our time and money into sustainable and ethical businesses, like re-sale and repair shops. Every time we repurpose something old into something new, we decide that people are more important than profit. We decide that saving water for our kids is more important than saving 20 dollars on a birthday present. And we decide that using our consumer power for the good of the planet can and should be a priority.
How You can Help!
All you have to do is make an account, enter some information about a local vintage/second-hand/repair shop that you know of, and add it to the map! Not only are you getting access to all the repurpose shops in your area, you’re also:
Giving local businesses a chance to prosper;
“Voting with your dollar” and acting as a responsible consumer;
Saving natural resources for future generations; and
Promoting an environmentally-friendly practice that is the way of the future!
Feel free to add some information about pricing or parking locations when you enter your shops’ information, and if you know of any electronic or appliance repair shops, add those to the map as well.
Don't wait -- the deadline is April 24th. Add your local repair and second-hand shops to the NewToMe map today!