New outlook on Sustainability

We have the capability of killing earth. We know we are killing the earth. We are doing nothing to stop it.

Sustainability when it comes to the fashion industry, or any industry for that matter is an extremely wicked problem. Throughout this course, my mind has been running circles on this wicked problem and ways it could be resolved. The answer is that it cannot be solved, at least not completely. That is why it is a wicked problem. In order to take steps to living a more sustainable life, everyone, and I mean everyone, would have to participate in order to create a rapid change in our environment. As one person, being more sustainable and making more eco-friendly purchasing decisions helps, but only with gradual change. When I think of resolutions for this wicked problem of fast-fashion with the environment in mind, I think that there could possibly be ways to fix this issue, or at least reduce the damage of this issue. In contrast, when I think of it with the economy and business world in mind, there is no way to solve this wicked problem without damaging the success of these businesses and the economy.  In the eyes of environmentalists for example, this problem is considered urgent and deadly to our planet. On the other hand, to a large fashion brand such as Zara, this problem is seen as damaging to their business success and they are not quick to make a change. Fast-fashion is a huge part of the fashion industry today. We as consumers are immune to a fast paced business environment, therefore, we expect new things constantly. The trends of fashion are constantly changing, leaving us constantly wanting new clothes. This constant crave for new items causes big fashion brands to produce new products quickly and at a very low price. We buy these low priced items, wear them while the trend is afloat, and then get rid of them. Another reason that these fast-fashion clothes are discarded is because of poor quality and durability. Due to the fact that they are made so quickly and cheaply by manufacturers. You cannot stop fast-fashion. It will continue, but there are steps that you could personally take in efforts of more sustainable fashion. The first step is to invest in durable, high quality basics with product longevity such as denim and neutrals. These items may be an investment and that is okay. You can build any kind of outfit by having a few basics and get your money’s worth with the amount of times you wear them. Having these durable basics can increase your sustainability because they have product longevity, they are durable, and never go out of style. 

Before taking this class, I had never heard of a wicked problem. I did not know the true meaning of sustainability. However, throughout this course, I have learned of intricately thought-out ways to preserve sustainability and decrease the damage of the earth. My mindset has now changed when it comes to being more sustainable, especially when it comes to clothing and fast-fashion. For example, I usually buy statement pieces, at a low price, because I know that they will soon go out of style. In doing this I save money, however, I do not save materials. These materials will end up in the landfills, slowly deteriorating on our planet. This is not okay. I am going to start being more mindful and intentional about the clothes I am purchasing. I have learned the importance of purchasing durable clothing with product longevity. This will ensure that I can keep the products for a long time and decrease the time in which I get rid of them. I have learned that it is okay to invest in clothing that will last you a long time. It saves you money in the long run because you are buying one product at a large price instead of several at a low price. Doing this can also help to decrease clothing waste ending up in the landfills. 

I will also continue to educate myself on this topic. I was shocked that I have never been aware of these issues, of course I knew that product and textile waste were bad for our planet, but I did not understand to what extent it has gone and the urgency of the issues. After watching the movie The Eleventh Hour, my mindset completely changed. It is sad what we are doing to the earth. We are taking resources given to us by the earth and abusing them. To be more specific, we are taking the earth’s non replenishable resources. We are taking advantage of our planet without even batting an eye. Earth is our home that is now being stripped of its beauty and replaced with buildings. While our economy is booming, our planet is deteriorating. Another thing that has stuck out to me during this course was a photo of clothing landfills and someone holding up a piece of clothing that still had tags on it. This proves that companies are overproducing and consumers are overbuying. Companies are making large amounts due to the cheap production cost while consumers are buying large amounts also because of the low cost. We as consumers need to put more thought into what we are purchasing and what we would use it for rather than just buying it because the price is just too good to resist. Seeing all of this and learning how and why it is happening has given me a better understanding of the sustainability issues going on in our world today.

Lastly, learning mindfulness in this class, such as meditation, has helped me better empathize with the issues of sustainability, as well as better understand myself. Meditating is connecting deep within yourself and separates your mind from the world. This is very refreshing, even if it is just for a few moments. In order to make changes around you, you have to be able to make changes within you and meditation can help with that. Mindfulness is the key to bettering these issues. Once you are able to take a step back and really see what is going on around you, you are able to truly understand the urgency of the situation. Meditating before each class has helped me connect with my inner empathy before learning more about these issues. After meditating, I am able to push everything aside and  better understand the deeper meaning behind these issues, therefore, making me more eager to learn from them. I find it sad that I did not have a passion for making a change until this course. It took me watching videos of our dying earth to want to make a change. I hope that in the future, I continue to be determined to live a more sustainable life, as well as educate others on this topic. It will take a village to help everyone understand. Oklahoma State is going their part in this change by offering this course and I hope to return the favor by continuing to educate myself, and others, on this wicked problem.

I am going to make a change, and I hope you will too.

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