Do you get the fashion newsletter? H&M has the coolest looks for an incredibly low price. Always fresh! I mean you get the newsletter at least once the week, they've got always new looks and they put stuff on sale the whole time. Yeah, H&M knows how to make you to want to buy! They even have a conscious line. For that you feel less guilty when you buy their clothes?
Because when you take a closer look, their conscious products aren't as conscious as you would think they are. Partly recycled polyester, wow, so what about the newly produced polyester - that isn't good for the environment anyway - that was used for the blouse? Partly organic cotton, sounds a little bit better, but what about the other parts of cotton that were used for the pair of jeans - and it was chemically bleached, wasn't it? And there it is: 100 % Organic Cotton, sounds great, but what about the colors that were used and the working conditions of the producers of the shirt?
I think you get it, they call something conscious that is only "partly" conscious yet. Maybe 5 % conscious, maybe 10 % when you make an environmental equation? Good question, no answer - because you only need to have the feeling of buying something conscious. H&M takes for you a fool. And let's be honest, if it comes to fashion we are fools most of the time.
Anyway - it's already an important step that H&M knows that people like green fashion. And if a giant like H&M obtains organic cotton on a grand scale, it's a big support of the ecological agriculture, thus the environment in that region, thus the animals in that eco-system, thus the people that are working on the fields and don't get sick of it (literally) because they don't inhale pesticides.
But most of H&M clothes are still not even partly conscious and therefore aren't labeled as those. They contain conventional cotton or polyester, poisonous colors, were bleached or chemically tanned; humans, animals and the environment were abused for the production etc. And most pieces are not meant to be durable, so the quality is what it is meant to be: low.
I don't mean to name and shame, it's not like the other big brands would be better than H&M. I'm sure that my other clothes from brands like Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Polo Ralph Lauren and Weekday (related to H&M by the way) aren't more environmentally friendly produced. And your possibly favorite brands like Zara, Esprit, Gucci, Prada or - two of the worst if you go for the chemical smell in their stores and the durability of their clothes - Primark and KiK don't do better either.
So what's my point? We all love fashion, don't we? We love the latest looks, the coolest styles, we love to be up to date with what's shown in magazines and trendy tv-shows. But what's the price that we pay for it? Is it really only 9,99 € for the black skinny high waist H&M pants that I'm wearing to work or ~ 450 € for the black Michael Kors coat? What about the beautiful blue-white porcelain style Gucci dress for 4.980 € that I can definitely not afford? Is what we pay in money the real price of our clothes?
I think that you know the answer. The real price is paid by the environment, the animals, the poorly treated workers. And in the end also by us: we take part in destroying our own planet, the place where we're living at - and we feel guilty if we start to think about it.
So what can we do? How can we change it?
The answer is: NO. A simple and effective: NO.
That's what we have to say! NO to the companies, NO to our consumerism, NO to our brain that was taught not to think about it.
And after the NO comes a YES: YES to environmental friendly companies and SecondHand, YES to sharing, renting, recycling, reusing, YES to austerity in our consumption, YES to our brain that started thinking again.
Do you need that sweater? Possibly not, but it's so pretty. Do you need these shoes? Well, you don't, but you don't have a pair of boots that fit the color of your new sweater yet. Do you need these cheap jeggings? Kind of, the other pair doesn't look good anymore after only a few wash cycles.
You see what I mean? We have to say NO. The companies always find good reasons why we should let them seduce us to buy more. Our consumerism tricks our feeling of responsibility. And our brain enjoys to be tricked for not feeling guilty when thinking about how the clothing was produced. I'm sure that you also know that the reward system in our brain loves to be satisfied - and for many of us new fashion highlights in our wardrobe are a short, but effective way to do so.
So how can we start taking responsibility and start saying NO? I mean we know how hard it is, don't we?
I made a little guide for you that has helped me in my consumer decisions and will help me to become more and more responsible. Here it is:
No. 1: Unfollow the newsletters of brands that aren't environmentally friendly, delete their Apps on your phone, unfollow them and their fashion victims on Instagram and Facebook
(Bye H&M, Hallhuber, Victoria's Secret, American Eagle...)
No. 2: Stop purchasing fashion magazines and unfollow their newsletters
(Bye Vogue, Glamour, Elle...)
No. 3: Don't enter stores that aren't environmentally friendly for not being seduced to buy things
(Bye H&M, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste, Weekday...)
No. 4: Don't visit websites of brands that aren't environmentally friendly or websites that sell them
(Bye Zalando etc...)
No. 5: Go and check your wardrobe. Classify your clothes in things you like to wear, could like again, don't like at all, don't fit yet, don't fit anymore.*
No. 6: Get newsletters of eco-friendly websites and brands*
No. 7: Watch documentaries about the fashion industry to stay strong in your decisions*
No. 8: Start reusing, recycling, sharing, swapping, buying second hand, buying only ecologically if new*
No. 9: Get flea market apps*
No. 10: Realize that beautiful high quality clothes will be always in style, so you don't need to change your wardrobe all the time if you say Bye to quantity and Hi to quality
Hello brain, hello responsibility, let's do it fellows! I believe in us, you and me can change the world.
Read my Guide how to organize your wardrobe to clear your closet and keep it neat.
*There is gonna be a list to learn more about it, stay tuned for it.
Photographer: Martin Dschietzig