I think that it is slowly becoming common knowledge that the fashion industry is incredibly polluting, bad for the environment, can be ethically questionable, and that many now own wardrobes that they don’t even wear. These facts are even being stressed by new trends like minimalism, online activism that highlights questionable practices, the increasing awareness of sustainable fashion, and brands going out of their way to repair and resell clothing. (And like any good millennial, I’ve learned most of this from the internet and from the documentary, The True Cost). The cost of fast fashion is something that has been on my mind since watching that documentary and when I was reflecting on new years resolutions I concluded that changing my shopping habits was within my realm of possibility and it is a very easy fix especially in the wake of the undeniability of climate change.
Interestingly, this “new” decision is actually quite familiar to me. For the first part of my life, most of my clothes were second-hand due to my parents’ affinity for tag-sale-ing. Like any ungrateful child, I resented it to a degree. However, I now recognize that it was cost efficient (plus environmentally friendlier!) and I was able to wear labels that people in my town would sell away for a fraction of the price and I can’t get over how much smarter that was. Unfortunately, since high school I’ve succumbed to the cheap quality and price of brands like H&M, Forever 21, and Zara. Cute, affordable, and easy? Count 16-year-old-me in. Looking back, I can’t even tell you where most of those clothes have disappeared to–especially after only being worn once or twice.
Going forward, one of my goals in 2017 is to not buy any new items of clothing (this is subject to work, but it’s my personal experiment) (plus I just realized that underwear cannot be included in this initiative).
Since being on a college campus I’ve come to realize how easy it is to sell, trade, and swap clothing when you’re living near thousands of other students that are your age (and since it is my last college semester, I am now acutely aware of the easy and quick access I have to thousands of people my age while on a college campus and how this access will not necessarily be gone, but will be different once I graduate in May. Again, something I will expand on in a later post). One of the sustainability clubs would usually do a semesterly clothing swap and I heartily would participate finding great clothes for nothing at all and in addition I remember passing by a flea sale on campus.
I truly think that it is an underrated fact that what you don’t want is something that someone wants and is willing to pay money for. This fact spurred my decision to quickly create a Facebook Free & For Sale Group for Fordham students. Naturally, I conceived and kicked it all off while sitting in one of my night classes during a span of 45 minutes. After creating the group, I messaged close friends and a ton of people that I was friendly with and gave a quick pitch and asked them to start posting their clothes to get the ball rolling. Since then, 360 students have been added to this group, I’ve been watching a ton of sales go down, I’ve sold and bought plenty of stuff, and the Fordham Rival offered to write an article about it which helped to raise awareness of the existence of the group.
Long story short–changes in your life and having a positive impact on others is now almost too easy (something I will expand on in a later post) with tools and resources like social media and personal networks. All you need is 45 minutes and an effective plan of action and this is just a minor example of what you can get done and how much impact you can even have with something as simple as a Facebook group. You don’t need to build an app, have a unicorn company, or dramatically disrupt an industry in a day–you cannot forget that it all starts small.