Clothes are the skin that we choose.
They send a message. They convey a status. They embody our personality.
Ever since I was self-aware enough to have an opinion on what was cool, I’ve chosen my “skin” without much regard for the impact of my decisions. For instance, shoes are my weakness – I’m definitely a bit of a sneakerhead. However, I never really cared where my shoes were made, how much water it took to make them, or if the worker who put them together did so under reasonable conditions and was paid a fair wage. As long as I had the latest kicks on my feet, I was happy.
The last 3 months at Thread have trained me to think twice when I’m standing in the checkout line. My eyes are now open to the impact of my choices.
For one, when accounting for all the energy, resources, and pesticides used, the textile industry is the second dirtiest on the planet behind only the oil and gas industry. And that doesn’t even take into account the social cost behind all that production. Sounds like I’m making that up, right?
Thread recently screened The True Cost documentary in the office during our lunch hour. After seeing what really goes into our clothes, I totally believe that statement.
The documentary gives an uncensored look at the complete social and environmental impact of the fast fashion industry, and it’s not pretty. Garment workers across the world are trapped in cycles of poverty making clothes for the western world that might only be worn a few times. Pollution in factories overseas runs rampant and is killing local ecosystems. Water used to produce cotton is drying up supplies both at home and abroad. It’s a serious problem.
Most companies have no idea where their material comes from or where their garments are assembled. Stories like the ones told in The True Cost are why companies who are becoming actively involved in their supply chains and in the selection of their materials are so important. The companies that challenge themselves and their customers to ask the tough questions are able provide a little peace of mind. And in the fashion industry, that’s really hard to come by.
A blog post won’t change the industry. It may not change your decision on where to buy your next pair of shoes. But what I hope happens is that you think twice about the impact of your purchase before you decide to buy that trendy shirt or new pair of shoes. Change starts to happens when large groups of people make small personal choices.
After all, clothes are the skin that we choose.
Shouldn’t we be striving to choose the healthiest skin possible?