Fashion, Poverty, and the Environment

This week, our discussions focused on environmental degradation and the fashion industry. The first reading was from Walker and how sustainable the fashion industry is currently. The quote he placed near the beginning of his article,” fashion is merely a form of ugliness so unbearable that we are compelled to alter it every six months” so accurately that it’s scary to really think about. Fashion is one of the most unsustainable industries in the world, and this statement really captures it. We need fashion to maintain our social statuses, and by changing the style every so often, it ensures that a consumer must buy more goods to continue to be considered “cool” in the eyes of their peers. Fashion also guarantees that whatever is in style now, will eventually go out of style, making the basic foundations of the industry unsustainable. Fashion, however, does appeal to people with its ability to help them express themselves better to the world. It also provides monetary value in an otherwise mundane and boring world. Trying to make fashion more sustainable is definitely possible, but the effects of longevity in our clothing could affect the market for consumers and the industry’s job market. So maybe the planned obsolesce of fashion could be considered a good thing, since it helps the economy and provides people a way to be creative in their everyday lives, however, its effects on our environment can be viewed as the negative side to our industry.

Our other topic was about poverty and how it encourages environmental degradation and unsustainable practices. The argument made by the Yes side of our reading was that poor people are often forced by their limited access to goods and opportunities to use unsustainable practices. This main concept can also be applied on a more global scale, since developing countries are often taken advantage of by larger, more developed western countries. These nations strip the lesser of their resources, and since this often sparks the economy and typically allows for the poorer nation to develop quicker and more efficiently, not much is criticized by other countries, almost nothing happens about this. Power and inequality mostly come into play, and until we began to realized what stress we put on the environment, nothing would have been done to prevent degradation. The thing that really stuck out to me was that without this practice of taking advantage of poorer countries, we would not live the way we do currently. There is no way that anything we get cheaply from other nations would be as cheap if the inequality factor was not into play. So the question is, how do we maintain our current lifestyles without manipulation and poverty? I don’t know if there is any way we could sustain our lives without this practice. We as Americans need to change our lifestyles to be more sustainable, by recycling, cutting back some, and finding new ways to make us happy.

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