I feel guilty and thats OK

This course more than any other has made me wonder if I really want to work in the fashion industry. I think there are just so many issues both environmentally and socially that I keep finding out the industry contributes to. Apart from fast fashion and animal testing I never really put much thought into the connections the industry has to all these wicked problems. Sitting down on the first day of class and watching the 11th hour had me completely lost. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I did not really understand how much the industry really contributed to pollution, especially textile production. The real context of that entire documentary was a little lost on me, that was until I began to see the connections between the industry and the current environmental crisis. Sometimes it sounds to me like it is impossible to work anywhere in the industry without directly contributing to some horrible wicked problem. I know that’s not necessarily true but the thought does make me stop and question what I am doing. Part of me just wants to stop having to learn and think about wicked problems completely, but I know doing that would not make my anxiety about global warming or my guilt about pollution go away.

I would say the first thing I feel when I think about pollution and most wicked problems in general is guilt, I feel it constantly. Every time I throw away a plastic water bottle or buy a piece of fast fashion, I feel horrible. It makes me wonder if I feel that bad about small things in day-to-day life how am I going to feel working a job in the industry, because no matter where I go or what I do those wicked problems are going to be there. Am I going to feel this bad every time I wake up and go to work for the rest of my life? If that is the case, am I prepared to deal with that? These are the problems that I feel like mindfulness may help me solve.

            Sometimes if a wicked problem seems too complicated or overwhelming, I will try to imagine the problem as a stone being dropped into a pond. The ripples from the stone are the effect it has. Each ripple is its own smaller problem that makes the bigger problem a little less intimidating. This little method of mindfulness really helps me understand wicked problems in a much easier way. A big part of this evaluation process for me is making sure I am keeping a sensitive out look on things while still being realistic. I guess I just try to stay sensitive and sensible. It can be very stressful to look at some problems from an emotional standpoint due to their darker nature, animal testing and child labor are two examples of things I definitely do not like to think about. When it comes to talking about these issues, I just have to remind myself these problems are real, they are not going anywhere, and the most I can do about it right now is learn and educate myself on it. This combined with basic breathing techniques for the most part get me through all the anxiety involved with this class. The mandalas that got handed out in class were a nice way to calm down as well.

            Its one thing to go through a problem and try to figure out a solution that ticks all the boxes, but it is an entirely new challenge to compare multiple solutions to find the best one. So many different factors go into attempting to solve a wicked problem both internal and external factors are constantly changing and shifting the situation. There is always some logistical error or financial strain to be taken into consideration when looking at these solutions. Its more complicated than I like to think about but its true.

Sometimes finding out a problem has a solution is the most frustrating part. We produce so much waste and pollution on a day to day basis with no break or rest. Our time is slowly but surely ticking down but we just keep going and wasting. I hate to think of all the solutions to these wicked problems that are just ignored. Be it because its easier or cheaper or faster to do it a less sustainable way we still do it. Realizing these large scale conscious decisions people make to keep harming the environment and other living things makes me want to think of literally anything else. It really feels like there is just a complete lack of empathy and compassion in the industrial choices that are made within the industry.

            Although it can be a challenge to think about, I am glad to be learning this now instead of later. Compassionate decision making is something that I feel is super overlooked in today’s industry. I want to learn how to be as mindful in my every day decisions making in the same way I am about larger more important issues. Being able to find out the best solution that benefits everything and harms nothing really is the ultimate dream of industry practice. But identifying the seemingly unsolvable wicked problems is an important step as well.

            I do not ever want to lose sight of the fact that the consequences your decisions have are very real. If I am ever in a position where I can choose a more sustainable option for material sourcing or a more environmentally friendly, I want to be able to. I also want to know why I am making the more humane decision. To be able to back it up and justify why the challenges are worth it.

            I think the most important thing I have learned from this course is that it is way more complicated than just good and bad decisions. There are drawbacks and benefits to every choice you make. Understanding the problem is the first step to solving.

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