In the recent ongoing discussion on how to save planet Earth from certain destruction by making all world industries more environmentally aware, many of us tend to go on "kicks:" health kicks, planting kicks, activist kicks, etc. But many of us recognize that we are attempting to deprogram our minds to think that we cannot live without certain appliances, and reprogram ourselves to embrace the hunter-gatherer mindset. Unfortunately, our dream of the ultimate sustainable lifestyle crashes when we get the monthly electricity bill.
It appears, however, that we may be forcibly targeting the wrong mindset. If a phone is necessary to your life, don't discard it in the name of the planet. Get one of those super batteries that take significantly more than 5 hours to die. It may be more expensive, but it is an investment. Though "investment" may trigger the phrase "investment banking" which brings up an image of our empty wallets, the truth is that we must be willing to invest in quality. In the fashion world, that automatically brings an image of a faded slightly pilling, but perfect muumuu from the 70's. In the fast fashion era, it's pretty difficult to walk around in an outfit from 3 years ago and still look modern, but quality means that you're actually going to have to stop and think about whether or not you want an item, or even need an item. When we see a steep price tag, we exclaim "WHY does it even cost that much!?" Many brands will, unfortunately, never tell you why. But there is one that has made it a mission to do so.
Honest by is hailed as the world's first ever 100% transparent brand, promoting both sustainability and individuality. Launched by lauded Belgian designer and art director Bruno Pieters at the start of 2012 and inspired by his world travels, the brand's main mission is to "ensure every component in every product [sold] has the smallest impact on our health and the environment." In keeping with this ideology, the brand has made it a point to provide the consumer with all the information regarding the specific item they are hoping to purchase, from textile origins to cost breakdown. Better yet, each item in the online store is from a specific collaboration the company does with another brand. As if snagging an eco-conscious talented shoe designer, textile designer, or accessory designer weren't more than enough to highlight the ubiquity of sustainable brands all over Europe, Mr. Pieters interviews the brains behind each brand Honest by collaborates with. In doing so, the consumer gets an extremely down-to-earth view of what spawns environmental awareness. Not all of these designers are sustainable because they sat down one day to watch a National Geographic documentary, calculated their carbon footprint per year, and felt an overwhelming sadness for the state of our beloved planet. Some of them didn't even notice that all their products were locally made. It so happened that the cheapest and fastest way to ensure quality was to have small and trusty production sites that the designer could drop by every so often, and wouldn't cost a small fortune to transport to his or her atelier. In this way, Honest by retains the noble image of the ecofriendly individual, but does not present that goal as unattainable and unrealistic for the modernized consumer. Even purchasing an item from the shop not only provides the buyer with a nice piece of high-quality clothing with stark origins, but a sense of pride and accomplishment. Honest by has epitomized the "look good, feel good" concept.
So maybe we can't afford even half of one article of clothing in Honest by's store. But looking at the origins of the pieces and reading the interviews of the designers adds another dimension to a piece. When saving up, we have time to think of all the possible ways we could style and wear the piece. We don't have to worry much that it will be out of fashion when we finally get our paws on it. And maybe you're not ready to give up the trips to Forever21, Zara, and Mango every payday. But you might be less inclined to spend money as often on fast fashion.
Personally, I'm making it a point to limit the number of things I buy in the name of fast fashion to 3 articles of clothing every 3 months with coupons. I'm not perfect, but this is what works best with my lifestyle as a broke college student. I'm taking more initiative in trying to make a few things of my own. If I can do it well enough, one day I won't really be buying anything but shoes and fabric. In cutting down on the shopping, it gives me a lot more time to sit down in front of a computer when I get emails for "FREE $50 VOUCHER WITH ORDERS OF $150" or "30% OFF 4TH OF JULY MEGA-SALE"and really think about the construction of the pieces, their originality, their possible lifespan, whether or not my personal style really matches the design, whether or not I can replicate it myself with a $5 yard of fabric, styling versatility, etc. Scrutinizing each piece really frees up my mind, and when I decide NOT to buy something, makes me smile at the extra $30 in my wallet, and, if I happen to think about it, makes me feel a little better for not succumbing to a potentially unsustainable supply-and-demand chain this time around.