Friday, March 4, 2016

The Conscientious Consumer

It's obvious to me and the people around me that this little experiment has changed a lot about how I am and think. I have become so much more aware of the things around me and in my life. Not only when it come to clothes, but all things that surround me. And the great thing is that I can also feel the awareness being growing out there and that the discussions have started.
As a result of my project I decided in my BA thesis to take a closer look at the consumerism in fashion - and how the consumer can be or is able to make a difference.
To give you a little insight, I wanted to post two parts from it, the abstract and my conclusion, since the thesis in itself is around 20 pages.
The whole journey of writing and researching for this thesis was very inspiring, eye opening and so interesting to me. And since I have been floating around in all of these thoughts now for a long time it was a good thing to be able to pinpoint these things down and take a closer look.

Abstract

Without consumerism there would be no fashion industry. But with increasing awareness about the environmental issues that we are facing, buying to satisfy our longings isn’t as relevant as it once was. The consumer needs to start taking responsibility and stop hiding behind the statement that big companies are the ones doing all the harm.
With conscientious decision-making and relevant information seeking, the consumer can make a difference: voting with their dollars. There are many different ways of being a conscientious consumer, and the reasons and focuses differ from person to person. You might care for the environment or the welfare of animals. You might want to fight for human rights and buy only Fairtrade or take a more drastic change and start living a zero-waste lifestyle. Maybe you make the switch to a minimalistic lifestyle and follow the slow fashion movement. And some might even try to do it all. That said there are countless different approaches to being and becoming a conscientious consumer, but the place to begin is to start taking responsibility and stepping back to see the bigger picture. Fast fashion being one of the biggest issues, being unsustainable in almost every aspect, as consumers we need to set pressure on brands, demanding more ethical and sustainable products for what ever reason one might find conscientious.


 Conclusion


Our planet is running out of water and oil, our icebergs are melting and we have permanently altered our climate. By treating clothes as though they were disposable, buying too much of them adds a tremendous amount of weight on the environment while we are at the same time simply being unsustainable. [1]
Consider this: all the ants on the planet, taken together, have a biomass greater than that of humans. Ants have been incredibly industrious for millions of years. Yet their productiveness nourishes plants, animals, and soil. Human industry has been in full swing for little over a century, yet it has brought about a decline in almost every ecosystem on the planet. Nature doesn't have a design problem. People do.[2]
Looking at the diverse perspective of possibly being conscientious there is a clear pattern of social responsibility. People are driven by their own believes, aesthetics, opinions and moral values to make better choices in their lives. Conscientiousness is not presented in a single right definition; it is presented in countless different manifestos. Whether it might be because you care for the planet, the oceans, the animals, your family, the economy, politics, other people or yourself, it is conscientious. If you feel what is the better thing to do, for whatever reason you might imply - and consume accordingly, then you are a conscientious consumer. While not being a totally established sector inside of the fashion world today, the conscientious consumer does exist; getting a long way with consumer activism and increased talk about the need for a more sustainable world.
 With the building of more informative and transparent platforms designed for easy access for the consumer, we work our way towards a much more ethical fashion industry. With demand comes supply, so with increasing demand from the conscientious consumers out there; putting pressure on design labels and fashion companies to act more ethically, we could see a drastic change inside within the industry. We have made the world as it is today, and we should just as easily be able to change it.



[1] Elizabeth L. Cline, “Seven Pairs of $7 Shoes,” Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, (New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2012), e-book, 
[2] William McDonoguh and Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: remaking the way we make things, 16.


Have a good one, 

J

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