Not everyone can shop sustainably
December 6, 2020
The ability to purchase sustainably and ethically made clothing is a privilege that needs to be recognized. In recent years, awareness surrounding how products are made and the impact they have on both the environment and society has increased. A survey by Fashion Revolution found that 39% of consumers said it is important to them their clothing be made by people paid a fair, living wage. But it is necessary that people recognize the privilege of choosing to purchase sustainably made clothing is not a feasible option for everyone.
Buying ethically is one way to lessen your carbon footprint, but it isn’t the only way and should not be the expected way of others.”
Generally, people agree that clothing should be made more sustainably. In the same survey by Fashion Revolution, 84% of people surveyed said they think it is important that fashion brands tackle global poverty, and 85% said they think that fashion brands must do more to tackle climate change. Although it is a widely held sentiment that fashion brands need to be doing more, this is not reflected in people’s willingness to pay more for sustainably made clothing. A survey by Vogue Business found that, on average, people are only willing to pay $2.65-5.30 dollars more for a sustainably made shirt in comparison to a regular one. Paying more for something that has a smaller carbon footprint and is made using ethical labor practices is not a decision everyone has the privilege to make. At SPA, the decision to spend $3 or $4 more dollars on a sustainable t-shirt is one that is much easier to make than in other communities. People should not feel pressured to buy sustainable clothing if that is not an option for them, and they shouldn’t feel badly for choosing not to do so. One must be respectful of other people’s decisions to buy or not buy sustainably made clothes, because paying more should not be an immediate expectation we have of others. One should not expect everyone to be willing to pay more for sustainably made clothing, even if that is important to one’s self.
Although buying sustainable clothing can be more expensive, after the COVID-19 pandemic began, people have become more willing to choose options for wearing sustainable clothing that don’t involve spending more money. In a survey by McKinsey, 48% of Gen-Z said they will be buying more second-hand clothing items than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to purchasing more second-hand clothing, 71% of people said they will be throwing away fashion items less than they did before the pandemic began.
Although buying sustainable clothing is one thing you can do to lessen the carbon footprint of your clothing choices, there are many other options too. Go thrift shopping, shop at vintage clothing stores, or be more conscious of what you are throwing away and how often. Granted that buying ethically—typically more expensive clothing—is one way to lessen your carbon footprint, it isn’t the only way and should not be the expected way of others.