Since I’ve watched the rise of the fast fashion peddlers I’ve felt a bit of a bee in my bonnet about it.
Sure, I started out as thrilled as the rest of us – splurging money for fun on fabulous shopping sprees with my teenage friends. Then after a while I started to realise that something was going wrong… I’d be bored and wander through a fast fashion store, emerging with items I’d never wear. Burning money thoughtlessly on sale items seemed harmless enough, right?
Fast Fashion Enslaves Us- 3 Trillion Dollars Worth
I woke up one day and realised I had a wardrobe bursting with clothes I had never worn. The clutter started to cause me anxiety. The anxiety caused me to want to shop more. I’d developed a fast fashion addiction without even realising it. This three trillion dollar industry had me pouring my money into their bottomless sack.
I suddenly saw the danger of fast fashion. It’s the wolf in the woods luring us to take a step closer to our downfall, or Pinnochio’s cursed Pleasure Island amusement park that turns its inhabitants into donkey slaves. Slaves of purchasing, indulgence, credit cards, ‘retail therapy’ and bad financial planning.
I wish I could say that I changed my ways in a day but it wasn’t that simple. Hooked is hooked and it took years and countless wasted dollars to find my way back home.
I’m not saying some parts weren’t fun – sure, I love that Zara top and sequin H&M set I’ve worn maybe twice.
But fast fashion is a glamorous cocaine dealer and the benefits are definitely not in our favour.
Do We Care So Little About Our Hard Earned Money?
According to Huffington Post, women owned an average of $550 of unworn clothes – 20% of their wardrobes, with shoes and coats the main offenders. Have we asked ourselves how long it took us to earn that $550, just to waste it?
In the study of 2,137 American women aged 18 and over, 70% cited preferring other pieces and 51% negative reactions from others. Those are two lame reasons for burning $550- cash and I’m sure even the women would agree.
In comparision, if we take that wasted monthly cash – lets say just $100 – and invest it with 8% interest per year compounding we’ll end up with $186,253.14 by the time we’re attending our kids graduation ceremonies.
Roughly. As a theoretical example.
In theory, that’s sending $100- a month to the garbage dump, or building $186,253.14 into our future instead.
Even half or a quarter of that compounded amount is a big difference to zero on a dump.
*(More numerics below for anyone interested.)
Fast forward to Suzie Strategy giggling over her poolside martini wearing the same Le Perla swimsuit she bought twenty years ago while we’re feeling overwhelmed by our exploding wardrobes wondering why the hell we still have a mortgage. Meanwhile our fast fashion spandex is still trying to decompose with some dignity and failing miserably.
Retail Therapy is Dangerous
Psychologically the impact is insane. Destruction of our impulse control. Anxiety of clutter and indulgent spending.
Neurobiological studies show we’re screwed because our brains derive such pleasure from the combined sensations of wanting or pursuit of goods, plus pleasure from bargains… PLUS lack of pain from using credit cards (apparently the brain feels pain when it pays cash – see below). How are we meant to fight that?
Well firstly we need to know this stuff. And that’s why I’m annoyed – because widespread education about this is not nearly good enough. We just shop and nobody is saying stop.
So where will these fast fashion clothes end up? The clothes – and our money – will be ditched at a garbage dump, apparently to the tune of about 70lbs of clothing per person every year… but the journey doesn’t stop there – read on for info that suggests we later ingest some of that dumped clothing without realising…
Thank god for Emma Watson wearing eco-friendly Calvin Klein plastic bottle dresses to make us sit up and pay attention.
Why We Need To Want Sustainable Fashion
Firstly, I invite you to consider what it would look like if we emptied our entire wardrobe on the floor. How much of this stuff do we actually wear? How much will end up in a landfill? Do we really want to add more to that?
According to Forbes –
Fast fashion garments, which we wear less than 5 times and keep for 35 days, produce over 400% more carbon emissions per item per year than garments worn 50 times and kept for a full year.
Continued … Americans throw away about 70 lbs of clothing per person every year. The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter of freshwater resources on the planet.
Plastic microfibers shed from our synthetic clothing into the water supply account for 85% of the human-made material found along ocean shores, threatening marine wildlife and ending up in our food supply.
So we end up eating each others disposed clothes. Gross? Major gross.
Tips To Regain Our Lives From Fast Fashion Debt Cycles
Empty that wardrobe out and set aside favourite items. Hang them at the front of the wardrobe next time they’re washed. Notice what clothes get worn most, and start considering the impact those extra clothes have on mental and physical comfort. Are they are a waste of space? Waste of money?
Don’t buy or wear anything we don’t think is a WOW.
If it’s not a WOW YES, it’s a maybe. And a maybe is a NO.
Where do we want that cash to go? If not on a garbage dump from boredom shopping?
Lets decide. We can read, research, watch Dave Ramsey and Oprah on youtube and pick up a pen for zero sum budgeting that includes our fashion goals.
Freedom comes from knowing where our money is and spending by choice, not just wasting it like it fell out of our pocket.
We can reject fast credit cards and pay in painful cash. There’s a study with people somehow shopping inside MRI machines (don’t ask) – showing that handing over cash or not having enough cash makes us feel pain. So spending hard cash as allocated can help stick to a spending plan.
*(More stats for geeks below)
Can we question our approach to fashion and ask whether we can improve?
Personally I probably wear 15 items on repeat in a month and a bunch of accessories, though I own loads more. There’s a ‘6-items for 6 weeks’ fashion challenge that sounds fun too.
It’s important to know staple items that get the most wear – find and play with combinations.
Style happiness doesn’t have to be complicated – leggings and tees / camis are incredibly stylish when accessorised well.
We might find the phrase ‘I’ve got nothing to wear’ never passes our lips again.
Thank you to references from The Atlantic, Forbes, Investopedia and the Huffington Post.
*Investing $100 Monthly: An Example (from Investopedia)
Now suppose the same 30-year-old investor finds a way to save an additional $100 per month. He contributes the extra $100 to his portfolio and keeps reinvesting his dividends and interest payments. His investment still earns 8% per year. For simplicity’s sake, assume compounding takes place once per year in January.
After a 30-year period, thanks to compound returns and a small monthly contribution, his portfolio will grow to $186,253.14 (as compared to $50,313.28 without the monthly contributions). While $186,253.14 is not enough money to retire on, especially after 30 years of inflation, remember that this is just with $100 a month in contributions and returns below historical averages.
Suppose the annual return is 9%, which is closer to historical averages for a 30-year period. With a $5,000 principal and $100 monthly contributions, the portfolio grows to $229,907.44. If the investor is able to save $200 a month for contributions, the future value of his portfolio is $393,476.48.
Link for this article : http://www.investopedia.com/
*Spending Cash Causes Pain – But Credit Cards Don’t.
“Credit cards effectively anesthetize the pain of paying – it doesn’t feel like you’re giving anything up to make the purchase, unlike paying cash where you have to hand over bills. The insula, a section of the brain associated with pain processing, activated when subjects saw prices that were too high.”
Link for this article : Research Of Pain Paying : Carnegie Mellon University