Monday, July 13, 2009

Responsible Consumption

According to, the average American produces 52 tons of garbage by age 75, and if undeveloped countries consumed as much as Americans do, humankind would require four more planets each the size of Earth ( Both of these facts are alarming, but those of us who live in developed countries can learn to become more responsible consumers. The main reason why I have created this blog is to encourage people to turn to recycled fashion, vintage clothing and accessories, and quality products that will last for a long time. In this first blog post, I'll be explaining why this can help make a difference in addition to giving tips on how to consume more responsibly.

Although many companies advertise their merchandise as eco-friendly, this is not always the case. We must take into account the means of production needed to create these new fabrics. Were the fabrics treated with harmful chemicals? Were the clothing items made in a sweatshop? How much does the item cost? If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Chances are if you take a look at the super low cost "eco-friendly" item's tag, you will notice that it has been imported from a developing country where workers are possibly being exploited in factories that may not be operating in environmentally sound ways. Before you purchase a new article of clothing, consider buying used clothing or an article of clothing made from recycled materials. There is only so much space in our landfills, and our world has plenty of materials that already exist that are just waiting to be put to new use.

This is not to say that buying items made from new materials is fully problematic. Many artists and crafters incorporate both new and used materials into their work, especially if they are working with vintage clothing and jewelry that they have rescued. Repairs are often necessary to make older items wearable again. There are plenty of crafters out there who are aware of which fabrics are safer for the environment and, therefore, only use biodegradable fabrics, such as cotton, when deciding to work with new fabric. Also, buying clothing made from durable fabrics is a great way to reduce consumption because good quality items last longer. A dedicated seamstress or crafter will know which fabrics and materials are best, and will use techniques that will allow the item to last much longer than a cheaply made, mass-produced item.

Many vintage pieces are comprised of durable materials, which have stood the test of time. Wouldn't you rather own unique, vintage, or vintage-inspired clothing and accessories that won't go out of style than spend dollar after dollar on trendy, mass-produced stuff that will have holes in it before you can even put it in the Goodwill bin at the end of the season?

So before you buy that trendy, imported shirt from Target that claims to be made from 100% organic cotton, consider supporting artists and crafters on online marketplaces like Etsy, going to arts and craft fairs, hitting up used clothing stores, or checking out estate sales first. If you are buying offline, make sure to examine the clothing. If it feels too thin and the stitching is already coming undone, consider buying a better quality item, and remember to check the tag to see where your item is coming from. It's much easier to ensure that the items you are buying are not made in sweatshops by purchasing from the artists themselves. With all of the outsourcing that has occurred over these past few decades, it's time to take production back into our own hands as much as we can. Please support environmentally conscious independent artists and crafters as much as you can, and if you are interested in becoming an eco-friendly crafter, please join in.

I will be posting about eco-friendly products that catch my eye in addition to sharing information that can help us become more responsible, environmentally conscious consumers, so please keep checking back. Thanks for reading!

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