A simple question that automatically leads each and every one of us to a more conscious and ethical decision-making. You don’t know what I am talking about? When have you last asked yourself «Where do my clothes come from?»
Being a female, passionate about fashion and beauty, living on a student budget, I most likely would fall into the category of a stereotype consumer chasing after cheap deals not thinking twice about fair land and labor usage. In fact, women in general are the ones that big businesses count upon. Excessive consumption drives the economy. So what is worng with consumption?
Consumption is defined by the value of either goods or services bought by people, bought by you and me. And since consumption is the main driver behind our economy, businesses have long worked on strategies and theories to increase their insights into our consumption behavior. With an increased knowledge of how you and me shop, they can increase their profits. This all sounds reasonable and not necessarily bad… yet. But knowing that the majority of all consumers are price-driven, meaning they are chasing after the lowest prices possible, businesses (whether they want to or not remains an open question) have to lower prices in order to stay in the market. But these low prices come at a cost. Not for you, not for me, not for your friends and family but for those workers who have to bear the terrible working conditions and low wages, and for our beautiful planet.
Chasing after constantly decreasing prices, businesses exploit land and labor. But at this point, we need to stop using land and labor as economic commodities that make up as an input for the final product. Actual people and our planet make up these commodities and suffer due to end-consumers not knowing or even worse, not thinking about how these cheap prices can even exist. We might not be able to change the entire system by ourselves, but what we can (and have to) do is to change the way we consume. We are the very end of the supply chain that is, whether we like it or not, responsible for what is happening to the garment workers, to our planet earth. This seems like an enduring process but actually it’s not… all you need to do to get it started is keep asking yourself: «Where do my clothes come from?»
Now more than Ever
Having watched the move The True Cost this weekend, at first I did not know what to feel – sad or inspired. The documentary made me cry several times, made me feel ashamed for myself, for everyone who became numb, everyone who is mindlessly consuming… It is sad and depressing to see that many people don’t look at the problem, ignore it, justifying their behavior with sentences like “well, I can’t change the system”, “I’m living on a low budget myself”. But I decided to stop feeling sad, ashamed or angry at what the world looks like right now – instead I want to take action. Only if you do nothing, go on as usual and don’t make an effort to change, you should feel sad and ashamed.
As this movie has inspired me to be more aware and more active than before, I wanted to share my thoughts on this. I want to take the steps towards being a mindful and aware customer rather than a numb consumer. I want to pay close, mindful attention to what it is that I am doing, buying, supporting and contributing to this world.