Fashion, Sustainability and Poverty

This was a very busy week full of really informative readings and mindfulness practices. I really enjoyed the meditations this week, especially meditating with an object. I thought this would be harder for me because I have been meditating with my eyes closed, but it was actually really enjoyable and easy for me to stay focused on my object and come up with a sort of narrative for it that got my thoughts off all the stresses I was dealing with outside of the classroom.
Something that was very eye opening in the readings from this week was Stuart Walker’s piece about fashion and sustainability. Fashion plays a huge role in today’s society. Fashion is an industry that is very important to many people today as a way of expressing themselves and their individuality. With this expression comes many different fads and trends that support the opposite of longevity and sustainability. Take, for example, some popular stores such as H&M or Forever21. These stores both sell clothing at very affordable prices, but at what cost? Many of the items sold in these stores are made of poor materials that are good for only a few wears, and then they practically fall apart. While this clothing is sold at cheap prices to the over-consumer, the under-consumer is oftentimes the one making the clothing, being underpaid and having to work in unfavorable conditions. Fast fashion is a huge issue on both the social scale and environmental scale. However, Walker argues that it does not have to be this way. He argues that fashion is an industry that supports exploration and supports sales and businesses, and without this constant need to recreate, stagnation becomes common. Instead of trying to keep everyone from buying more, we should teach consumers how to buy SMART as well as teaching producers how to PRODUCE smart. We need to start designing in such a way that what we are producing has little effect on the planet. This was a very cool concept to me that I think could be achieved over time, we just need to start making those small progressive steps as a society.
Poverty is another issue that was discussed this week of class that was very interesting and educational to me. At first, I thought of poverty as just having no money. However, after reading the yes article, I was surprised to see that poverty can be related to so many other things besides just money. Things like illiteracy, no access to health care, inequality, environmental degradation, and gender bias are just some of the ways poverty can be defined. Poverty is such a broad spectrum, which one of the reasons why it can be defined as a wicked problem. Regarding environmental degradation, poverty is both a cause and effect. Those who are living in impoverished areas are oftentimes too poor to worry about how what they are doing is affecting the environment, and if they are aware of what they are doing, there is little they can do to change their ways because they must find ways to stay alive. It is important to be aware of this issue and find out what these areas need in order to really help them in the best way. The equipment and policies that work to prevent environmental degradation in one place may not work for other places. It is important to be aware of this in order to make necessary changes.
This week has been one of my favorites so far just because I feel like I am really starting to learn about important issues and thinking of ways to go about changing them. I can’t wait to see where the things I’m learning here take me!

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