We need food everyday in order to survive. We also need clothing. But why are people more conscious about the substances they put into their bodies, when what they put on their bodies can be just as harmful?
People need to wake up. What you put on your body can be detrimental to your health if you don’t pay attention to the clothes you buy. For example, chemicals from your shirt’s dye can be harmful to your skin. But the harm doesn’t stop there. The lives of animals are also at risk. And the cheaper the clothes you buy, the more those fashion companies produce to keep up with demand, and the more you pollute the earth. So does that mean sustainable fashion is in our hands?
Yes! Fashion companies can only do so much when it comes to consciously producing their apparel using organic fibers and using less water in the dying process. For instance, Patagonia can do everything to practice sustainable means of production and include the importance of environmental and social responsibility. But what’s the point if people do not buy Patagonia’s apparel and others like it for those reasons?
In the TEDx Talk “You Are What You Wear”, Christina Dean describes how we, as consumers, are greatly responsible for the pollution created by the clothes we throw away. People try to keep up with fast trends by buying cheap clothes, which they chuck after just a few wears. This vicious cycle of purchasing, throwing away, and then continuing to purchase is extremely harmful to the environment. But you can help stop this!
Dean stresses that people need to learn how to build a relationship with their clothes. Love your clothes! Take care of them! Don’t throw a sweater away when the zipper breaks—fix it! These are simple things that any person can do to be fashionable and sustainable at the same time. Do it for the sake of your health. Do it for the sake of the earth’s health.
Before attending the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC, I saw peace and protest as two mutually exclusive things. Never did I think that a “peaceful protest” could ever achieve any kind of recognition or change. But I was wrong. I learned from my experience in that march, as well as watching “Art and Creativity of the Umbrella Movement Part 1 & 2” and doing more research, that art is the main weapon in inspiring people to initiate change.
As I walked in the most recent Women’s March, I saw pink “pussy hats” everywhere! There was hardly any people without one. Different patterns, different shades of pink, different sizes and fabrics. Not only did people contribute enormous amounts of time in knitting these hats, but there were also thousands of posters with beautiful quotes, drawings, and art work.
Watching “Art and Creativity of the Umbrella Movement Part 1 & 2”, and seeing Hong Kong's use of music, writing, photography, and art to showcase what they were fighting for truly reminded me of the beautiful things I experienced at the march. Marching showed me that there is no need for violence in a protest as a form of expression. All you need is compassion, love, and art.
Protesters held up their beautiful artwork, which displayed their pain, passion, and need for revolutionary change on the treatment of women. There were chants, people singing "This Little Light of Mine", and thousands of people snapping pictures. It was history in the making, and it was amazing to be a part of it.
Art brings people together, unlike cold hard facts and statistics, that prompt people to lash our and act irrationally. There is no anger when there is art. Watching people unite, and express themselves in imaginative ways is what gives me hope for a more accepting and prosperous future.
The spread of diseases such as Cholera, SARS, and Ebola are due to lack of knowledge. Understanding how diseases spread is crucial to protecting oneself—like washing your hands for 60 seconds, sneezing into the pit of your elbow, and avoiding close contact. But the people of West Africa didn’t even know what Ebola was, let alone how to prevent themselves from coming in contact with it. (“Understand How Infectious Diseases Spread”, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention).
The absence of knowledge is in itself a cultural practice that contributes to the spread of disease. According to the Ebola documentary, the people of Guinea didn’t know what was happening. They thought this mysterious illness was a curse! Fathers saw their kin die slow and painful deaths. Maids contracted Ebola because they didn’t know that the homes in which these people died were highly infectious.
The development of an outbreak is partly caused by cultural practices, but it is also controlled by biomedical science. When SARS was discovered, scientists and members of the World Health Organization were able to find the epicenter of the disease, which was Hong Kong (SARS Documentary). After releasing a list of common symptoms associated with SARS, people soon became educated.
Despite all of the biomedical technology, diseases still spread. It is extremely difficult to keep track of who is exposed to what. Discovering and naming an infectious disease is a complicated process and it doesn’t just happen in the blink of an eye.
In order to prevent wide-spread epidemics, people must cooperate with protocol, and keep in mind those who are in danger. It’s sad that Americans aren’t afraid of infectious diseases because “America is too advanced to let a disease spread out of control”. But this should no longer be the focus. Problems across the world become our problems as well, and it is up to us to help those who don’t have the tools nor knowledge to protect themselves.
Despite the class’ common belief that Patagonia does not provoke ethical shopping, I still believe that it is a great brand with a great incentive. Yvon Chouinard’s purpose to encourage environmental sustainability in his clothing and outerwear was remarkable from the start. He started selling hand made climbing equipment out of the trunk of his car. If there are people who just wear his outerwear for the name, and own more than one jacket, they’re the ones f***ing up the earth—not him.
Although Patagonia may be considered a “boujee” brand and people buy the outerwear just for the name, Chouinard never intended for it to be that way. He even went as far as approving several advertisements that encouraged consumers NOT to buy his merchandise and to emphasize that his outerwear are for "pro/extreme sports", not for wearing in 30 degree weather:
Although Chouinard could have advertised the environmental inventiveness of his brand more, in order to attract more conscious consumers, he and Patagonia are not the problem. People are the problem because they spend their money in the wrong ways. What’s the point of buying 5 different Patagonia jackets? This just goes to show that overconsumption is caused by boujee people, not boujee brands. It says way more about society than it does about Chouinard’s brand, in that people have to wear their wealth to make a superficial and pointless claim.
I need to develop my research on people/consumers. Why are people “boujee”? How can you convince a shopaholic to AT LEAST be a conscious shopaholic? There is no point researching on environmentally conscious brands if consumers do not recognize them as being conscious in the first place. There must be a way to convince people to save their money, and that following latest fashion trends is shallow and disposable.
My goal is to research more on why consumers behave the way they do, because obviously companies who advocate and practice sustainable fashion do not change the bad tendencies of shoppers. Education on this sustainable shopping must happen in order for change to happen.