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H&M Sustainable?

Guilt. What a shitty feeling. More and more I feel guilt about being human in the western world. It was guilt that turned me into a vegetarian and it was guilt (among other things) that turned me into an avid op-shopper. I guess you could say that although a shitty feeling, guilt has its place in making change.

Ok, I don’t want to get all ‘Dear Diary’ on your arse, but there are times that my obsession with living a sustainable life can become overwhelming and stressful. Sometimes I wish I could unlearn truths so I can go back to eating meat and shopping frivolously at H&M like a large chunk of the western world.

Ignorance. Is. Bliss.

But as cliché as it is, it’s all about balance. Not that I can really preach about being balanced, but what I do know is that balance isn’t something that you obtain and just keep, it’s something you must continuously work to maintain.

So if you’re anything like me, just remember that it is impossible to live in this world without a footprint, and killing yourself with guilt over that is simply unproductive.

Speaking of balance, shopping at fast fashion giants isn’t the end of the world if done responsibly! Slowly but surely the awareness surrounding fast fashion is growing and fast fashion giants are actually starting to listen.

H&M’s announcement of world recycle week, April 18th – 24th is definitely a step in the right direction. If you don’t know about world recycle week, basically it’s an ethical fashion initiative launched by H&M where you can bring your unwanted clothes in shop for recycling and in return for each bag, you receive one 15% off your next purchase voucher, with a maximum of 2 vouchers per day.

But. There is always a but.

Of course I want to focus on the positive here, but the only way we can work towards positive change is to always ask questions. It’s so easy for a big companies to position themselves as heros with declarations like world recycle week and unfortunately, most consumers are instantly satisfied and suddenly feel better about their purchasing habits without looking for further information. But hey, that’s human nature and I for one can relate first hand.

H&M announced world recycle week to be from April the 18th– to the 24th coincidentally overlapping with the Fashion Revolution campaign. Fashion Revolution day (now week) is dedicated to raising awareness around the lives of garment workers by encouraging us all to ask ‘Who made my clothes’ This week was also created to commemorate the 1,134 garment workers who were killed and the 2,500 workers who were injured in the Rana Plaza disaster on the 24th of April 2013.

Although the motive behind world recycle week is a positive one, it definitely raises a few questions.

Why would H&M introduce World Recycle Week the same week as Fashion Revolution week, which is the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy?

Introducing world recycle week during this time diverts the attention from the Rana Plaza tragedy and remembering the Rana Plaza tragedy is integral in driving change in the fashion industry, after all is was the Rana Plaza tragedy which brought to light everything that is wrong with the fashion industry.

Isn’t offering customers a 15% off voucher for their old clothes just encouraging the production of more clothes? I mean they really seem to be missing the point here right? the last thing we need is to create more clothes to purchase.

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Of course H&M want to appear like they give a shit about sustainability and this marketing campaign is a great way to do so. But it is misleading to say the least. Due to the current technologies, it would take up to 12 years for H&M to use up 1000 tons of fashion waste, and the real kicker here is that H&M produce 1000 tons in clothing in a matter of days!

Although this is a good indicator that fast fashion giants are finally caving to consumer pressure, I think it’s safe to say that H&M have a very long way to go and we shouldn’t all go rushing to our closest H&M for our next purchase.

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7 reasons why you should be an op-shopper

Because don’t you want to save the earth? 

You’ve heard it all before, but I’ll say it again. And I’ll probably say it next week too.

No joke, fast fashion is the second largest polluter on this earth, second only to the oil industry. To put this into perspective, we as a race consume 80 BILLION pieces of clothing every year, that’s up 400% from only 20 years ago. Although many of us donate our clothes to the local thrift store, only 10% end up there with the rest ending up in landfill (or drowning markets in third world countries, only to destroy the local industry) Source – (True cost the movie)

Let’s talk landfill (sorry gross) Synthetic products are non-biodegradable, meaning they don’t decompose, only adding to the millions of tonnes of waste on earth. The products that do decompose (think wool) produce and release huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere which contributes significantly to global warming.

If landfill wasn’t enough maybe the billions of liters of water used to produce clothing might be, or the poisonous greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide (N2O) emitted during manufacturing (which by the way has almost 300 times the impact that one pound of carbon dioxide has on global warming) Source – (theconversation.com.au)

Ahh but don’t forget the poisonous pesticides used in cotton farming or the highly toxic dyes used during the manufacture process or the unsustainable use of natural resources when shipping, farming and processing.

So whether or not you give a shit about the environment (um you should) your next purchase will either be supporting the destruction of the planet or making that tiny bit of difference in creating change. Yep, that’s some thickly slathered guilt right there!

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 Fashions fade, style is eternal

It’s no secret that the fast fashion machine pumps out trends for the masses, turning us all into clones. Clothing is the ultimate form of non-verbal communication and what you choose to wear everyday paints a picture of who you are. Whether or not you make a conscious decision each day to express your individual style, you are unconsciously communicating with those around you.

Not only is op-shopping the more sustainable choice, it’s a great way to really define and shape your own personal style through unique handpicked items that have character and a story to tell.

You’re a unique one of a kind babe, so why would you shop any other way?

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Cos you ain’t made of money

But even if you were made of money, you probably have better things to spend it on, you know, like wine?

Op-shopping is affordable, especially when you stumble across those hidden gems in small country towns. You can find unique, great quality clothes that won’t break the bank with the added bonus that a percentage of the money you spend usually contributes to a charity. So not only are you saving the mula, you’re also contributing to a positive cause!

You can’t get that shopping at H & M!

It’s all about the thrill of the hunt

There’s a lot to be said for the hunt. Searching through racks of clothing is always worth it when you find that one of a kind, vintage designer piece for less than you would pay for lunch. Shopping first hand just never offers the kind of satisfaction you get from finding a one of a kind piece. Not to mention that there’s nothing cooler than when people ask “Where did you get that amazing jacket?” and you get to tell them you scored it for a fiver.

Take that fast fashion!

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Shop local to support local

By shopping at your local op-shop you are supporting the local economy and when you support the local economy you are in turn supporting your local community rather than the unethical, international fast fashion giants who generate billions in profit at the expense our beautiful planet and even people’s lives

Support humane working conditions

If you don’t buy brand new clothes from ethically sourced brands, there’s a good chance you’re buying clothes made by underpaid workers who work slave like hours in unsafe conditions. By op-shopping you are no longer directly contributing to this type of exploitation. Instead as noted above, you are supporting your local op-shop and in turn the people in the community.

There is enough clothing in the world already

80 billion pieces of clothing are added to landfill every year on this earth, so I think it’s safe to say we have enough clothing to go around. It’s all well and good to buy clothing from ethical brands, but the last thing we need is ANOTHER clothing brand producing MORE clothes. Whether or not that new brand is sustainable, the resources and energy used to produce the clothing might be less but are still impacting this earth and of course decrease the chances of second hand clothing have a second life. That’s not to discredit all of the amazing sustainable fashion brands out there because reality is, we are never going to stop producing and creating, I mean what else are we going to do? But if you can buy the piece of clothing you are after second hand rather than first, do it. Do it, do it, do it!