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The Dangers of Overconsumption

We see it, we like it, we want it, we buy it, and 6 months later, we are sick of it and it either just ends takes up closet space, or we get rid of it.

With Black Friday and Christmas approaching, shopping for clothing is at its annual peak. What’s the harm in buying clothes?

“Every year, we collectively purchase around 80 billion pieces of new clothing globally” (Good On You), and every second, an entire garbage truck full of clothing is sent to landfills or burned. “The average consumer today purchases 60% more clothing than 20 years ago, and keeps it for half as long.” (Forbes).

Last year, a report was released stating that fast fashion industry giant, H&M was sitting on $4.3 billion worth of unsold clothing. Of course, with styles changing so quickly, H&M consumers could not even keep up with buying the next new thing.

We are so quick to dispose of clothing because we do not develop a relationship with our clothes. All we care about is what’s new and what’s in style, but that rush of wearing a new item of clothing goes away after only a few wears, and then sits collecting dust in our closets until we decide it’s time to get rid of it. The problem is that, “There is no such thing as ‘away.’ When we throw anything away, it must go somewhere.” (Annie Leonard). Unfortunately, in many cases, when we get rid of clothes, they end up sitting in landfills for many years. Some clothing can take over 100 years to decompose, and at the rate at which we are buying, this problem isn’t just going to go away.

It is one thing to buy clothes that we both love and need and will wear for a long time, but it is another to buy something just because it’s cheap and supposedly disposable, and it requires no effort from us to form a relationship with this item. Lately, developing a relationship with my clothing has been something that is very important to me. It’s exciting when someone can compliment you on your sweater and you know the whole story behind it: where it was made, what it’s made of, what brand it is, what their practices are, etc. This is what it means to develop a relationship with your clothes; it’s when you pull something out of the closet and think, “I don’t want to get rid of this, in fact, I’m excited to wear it!”

Focus on brands who share your values, or buy clothes with slogans that means something to you. Or better yet, buy second hand or shop your friend’s closet when you want something different to spruce up your wardrobe. Shopping can definitely have its negative impacts on the planet, but if we buy intentionally and truly care about who we are buying from, then shopping has the power to revolutionize the world.


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