During these turbulent times of a growing conscious shift and drive towards reducing plastic and waste, I fear people are being sucked into a new consumerist trend, to become a ‘non-consumerist’ consumer. By this, I mean brands are taking full advantage of the change in wants and needs of people who are becoming conscious of what they use and buy. Celebrities, Instagram famous people, Youtubers and documentaries are all pointing out the urgent necessity to change the way we live to a more waste free, ethical and environmentally friendly alternative.
There are many suggested methods of changing our lifestyles to help the planet and one of these is through the clothes we buy and wear. Don’t get me wrong, the growth of brands advertising and sponsoring promoters to demonstrate their new range of ethical and sustainable clothing is definitely making a difference and in turn, contributing positively to a changing fashion industry. However, I can’t help but feel that perhaps their ethics are fueled by a combination of consumer and capitalist desire, rather than compassion and a true drive for change, rooted with their principles
We are still being encouraged to purchase new items of clothing, whether we need them or not. In reality, most of us have a wardrobe of clothes with many hanging limp or becoming musty after years of being ignored. When we finally come around to facing that dreaded clear out, we can discover a new love for our old clothes and team them with newer pieces.
As someone who rarely buys new clothes and continues to wear items that were purchased five years ago (yes, most still fit and if they don’t, it’s time to have a clear out or eat a little less cake), it still remains an unspoken and under encouraged concept and method of making a difference to the environment. The Instagram black hole and the constant ability to capture images has created a mass of people who fear posting more than one picture wearing the same outfit, inducing anxiety that their audience are forgetting that washing machines and the ability to hand wash exist. Instead, many make sure they have ample options to warrant a new outfit in every picture, masking the reality that they wear the same clothes more than once.
This way of thinking and the constant promotion of clothing lines, especially through Instagram, is consistently feeding our capitalist, consumerist culture, which is undeniably the core reason for the dangerous state of waste production and consequently, the severity of damage the planet has incurred.
Taking minimalism to the full extent can seem unreachable to most, with new generations being brought up in a world of cheap, disposable items. I also acknowledge that emotional attachment to objects, associating them with memories and thus instilling a fear that these memories will be forgotten, makes it significantly harder to throw out belongings that are probably never used. Nonetheless, some basic principles of minimalism can be accomplished by simply buying less new and wearing more old items of clothing.
Instgrammer, Youtuber, producer and presenter Venetia Falconer (@venetiafalconer) has cultivated a new trend of ‘OOOTD’, an initialism of ‘Old Outfit of the Day’, a play on the popular ‘OOTD’,’Outfit of the Day’ used on a variety of social media platforms. The principal behind this trend is posting an image or video describing what you are wearing on a particular day and where the pieces have come from. With 25,000 followers on Instagram, Falconer holds a platform of influence that she is using to make a positive change. She encourages her followers that wearing items that are old and originally from ‘fast fashion’ brands such as River Island and Topshop is okay. Many environmentalists and promoters of the more ethical and minimalist way of living can perhaps sometimes encourage the wrong approach to making a more sustainable change. The majority of people, ethical supporters or not, will have been unaware of the harmful effects purchasing from ‘fast-fashion’ brands has on both the environment and the workers at some point in their life. Yet, after becoming conscious of the truth, many are gripped by a fear that they must get rid of all their previously purchased clothes, no matter how old and invest in ‘new’ clothing from ethical brands, charity shops or vintage shops.
Learning to make do and mend as well as cultivating a mindset of acceptance of what you already own and how to make it fresh again is key to helping the planet. It may not seem like it, but you will be making steps towards minimalism by simply avoiding purchasing new items unless they are absolutely necessary.
There needs to be a greater push to encourage people that less is in fact more and the best way we can improve the current state of earthly affairs is to simply cut back on consumption, and that goes for everything.