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This Land(fill of clothes) is Your Land(mark to make change)

Retailers have made it easier than ever for customers to buy products online. Whether it be using Amazon Prime to get books, buying from sellers on eBay, getting the newest graphic tee collection from UNIQLO, or even buying groceries, these tasks have all been done with the click of a mouse. We are the generation of immediate gratification. We can get anything we want with just the click of a button and have it delivered within a few hours. And sometimes, that desire to get goods now means skipping out on doing thorough research. Specifically, we fail to research where these things come from. We don’t ask ourselves, ‘who touched that?’ Let’s explore the ways in which our consumer habits impact artists and why instead of investing in the big guys, we get more reward when investing in our local artisans.

I haven’t had an Amazon Prime account since 2017. The reason being is that I don’t want to pay full price for it vs. the student discount price. I started to become more aware of the impact Amazon was making in society such as the low pay given to their factory workers to their “made for consumers to be convenient” returns being thrown in the trash. I often think about the backend of those that work at their warehouse and how they work through harsh conditions. I’ve had to find different alternatives such as utilizing eBay, buying used books at my local bookstore, or buying off of Etsy. Going through that extra step of doing research was difficult at first but I’ve become used to it. Research includes reading the “About me” and FAQ sections on consumer websites and using online resources such as The Good Trade that shares ethical brands and practices to look out for with readers.

There’s beauty in choosing what we invest in but being conscious in investing in our purchases is a learning process. The downfall of Forever 21, a mass market retailer, serves as a prime example of this consciousness. They shelled out hundreds of new styles per week, slowly revealing that fast fashion is not sustainable. Why is it no longer sustainable? A major reason is due to the toxicity of the work environment of garment workers being brought to light. When purchasing a $10 tee, we don’t think about who made it or where the textile is sourced. It’s cheap and when we need it now, we can get it whenever because it’s only $10. Why is that? Why are we willing to pay $10 for a tee that will not last long? It is the quality that one is paying for. From experience, I’ve suffered from many holey shirts after a year thanks to the basics I bought with my allowance (once upon a time.) Then again, I bought those low-priced tees because I had the ripe $20 bill I was given when I went to the mall with my friends.

Just like going to bars, it was a social outing and I just “had” to buy something. Flash to today where I’m able to afford the time to be more aware and learn about clothes and their story of creation. I went from buying $10 tees that didn’t last a year to investing in basics whether they be leggings, shirts, or shoes that will last me years. My way of thinking has changed from the instant gratification state of mind to slowly and efficiently researching fashion brands online before making a purchase. Doing this helps me in practicing and becoming a conscious consumer. I have some cards below of brands I have crushes on and who are killing it today in the market. Check them out if you dare. You might get a few new crushes as well.

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