Well, it’s Day 2 of this Challenge, and I am feeling really good & inspired! Only 2 days in and already I feel motivated to cut down on my clothing, be more intentional with what I own, and learning to love the clothes I have more instead of feeling like I always have to add to it. I can already see that living with less in my closet won’t make it feel sparse, but rather simpler and less stressful. It has also motivated me to do another 10 x 10 Challenge with my summer clothes so that I can learn to pack better when I go camping or on vacation. Already 2 days in and I would ABSOLUTELY recommend to anyone to do this Challenge!
My Day 1 post I defined what fast fashion was. There are a lot of factors at play in our world that have created what fast fashion is today, and this includes our society’s chronic obsessive need to consume.
According to the Globe&Mail, even though the average size of a Canadian home has doubled in the last 25 years, and family size is getting smaller, the self-storage industry is growing FAST. As of July 2019 there were 3,000 packed storage facilities in Canada, simply to hold our stuff. We are facing a landfill crisis where our stuff cannot fit any longer, but no community wants to have a landfill located near them, so where will all our stuff go? China has started to refuse our recycling. The overflow of our consumption habits are spilling from land into our oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has grown to be twice the size of Texas.
In addition to this, Canadians are on average are spending money they don’t have. As of 2018 according to the Bank of Canada, the average Canadian owes $1.70 for every dollar they earned per year after taxes, and owes about $30,000 of non-mortgage debt. “Approximately 1.7 billion people worldwide now belong to the “consumer class”—the group of people characterized by diets of highly processed food, desire for bigger houses, more and bigger cars, higher levels of debt, and lifestyles devoted to the accumulation of non-essential goods…Most of the environmental issues we see today can be linked to consumption” (National Geographic).
There are a lot of reasons why we consume:
- an increase in the cycle of trends,
- an increased accessibility to cheap products,
- products created with a shorter lifespan, designed to be disposable,
- an increase in accessing more money than we make (i.e. debt),
- and many more…
Whether it’s consuming essentials or non-essentials, watch this video to better understand why consuming stuff is harming our environment and as a result, ourselves.
CONSUMPTION & CLOTHING
Annually consumers in Canada spend 43.6 billion dollars toward clothing and footwear. “The average Canadian buys 70 new pieces of clothing each year, about 60 of which ultimately wind up in a landfill. According to a British study, the average article of women’s clothing is worn seven times before it’s discarded” (Globe&Mail). We consume 400% more clothes than we did just 20 years ago. More than 150 billion garments are produced annually, enough to provide 20 new garments to every person on the planet, every year.
More than 12 million tonnes of material is sent to disposal every year in North America, and 95% of it could be reused or recycled. Canada has so much clothing that we are the 7th largest exporter of used clothing in the world, with exports topping $185 million annually to places like Kenya, Angola, Tanzania and India.
Unfortunately thrift stores only sell 1 in 4 pieces of donated clothing. Of course it is good to think that unused pieces of your closet can be reused by another person, but based on this stat, chances are only 25% of your clothing is being worn again, which makes donating used clothes an unsustainable solution in cutting the waste. It doesn’t make sense to rely on the thrift system as a reason to continue to consume large amounts of clothing.
If I can easily go 10 days wearing 2 pants, 2 sweaters, and 4 tops, AND have access to a washer/dryer, then these stats of clothing consumption are a wake-up call. I expected the consumption to be high, but doing the actual research has my eyes wide and my jaw dangling.
We can’t buy our way out of climate change. That is why I wanted to build awareness in doing this challenge. That is why my family and I are doing a Buy Nothing Year. That is why this blog is not about product promotion. Continually asking myself, “at what cost?”
For the remainder of the Challenge, expect posts about:
- micro plastics
- thrift stores
- slow fashion