I’m Just One Person, but My Sustainability Matters Too.

At the beginning of last semester, I was a marketing major, completely clueless to the wickedness of the world around me. I shopped on all of the fast fashion websites, and contributed to all of the industries that have such a negative effect on our environment. I would drive my car the shortest distances just to avoid walking or riding my bike. I hate to admit it, but I was also the occasional litterer. All of these things that I did on a daily basis were just the norm to me. I never had a second thought about the carbon footprint that just one person can leave on this Earth, and that right there is the problem we all need to fix. The mindset of, “What is one person going to do to affect or change the environment?” I’m Just one person. How can I make a difference out of 7 billion people? I believe that if we all simply chose to make simple changes in our everyday life, that the environment would improve immensely, but therein lies the issue, how could we possibly get 7 billion people to agree on one single mission? 

After switching my major to Fashion Merchandising, I was placed in a class called Wicked Problems of Industry. In this class we discussed all of the problems and mistakes that people all over the world make on a daily basis to contribute to the downfall of our ecosystems. Mistakes that I, myself, make on a daily basis as well. We discussed a variety of wicked problems from global warming to the impact of the fashion industry on our everyday lives that most of us don’t even see. The issue that resonated with me the most was definitely the impact that the fashion industry has on our environment. Being a fashion merchandising major, I will be challenged with these problems in the future. Will I make the sustainable decision to work for places that are aware of their impact on the environment, or will I do what’s best for me even if it means the environment will be the one being hurt. 

Even now that I’ve taken this class, I find myself leaning towards the more unsustainable choice simply because it is easier. I am not someone who has an endless amount of income to spend and nine times out of ten, the more sustainable options are more expensive. The consumer inside of me seeks the instant gratification that sites like Amazon and Pretty Little Thing offer with affordable choices and fast shipping. I have a trip to Florida coming up, and when looking to purchase some new pieces for this trip, I found myself drawn to the idea of being able to purchase many more items rather than just one sustainable option. This was a struggle with my mindfulness and that is something we discussed at length within this class. One way we did this was through the practice of meditation. Meditation was something that I was very cautious of at first. I was unable to really immerse myself into my own mind in a room full of others with so many distractions. I decided to give it a try on my own and I actually was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed it. I have been prectiving it two or three times a week in the morning before class or work or whatever I have to do that day that might be stressful or take a toll on me.  I find myself taking the time to really think through my decisions or the problems I might be confronted with throughout the day and because of this I am able to make better and more sustainable decisions. 

The phrase “Wicked Problems” was something I had never heard before I took this class. I remember when I was enrolling thinking to myself, “What the heck even is this class?” What is a wicked problem, and how is it different from every other problem we face as a society? I quickly realized how these problems are uniquely and unfortunately created and why it is so hard for them to be solved. It is socially that we as a society are conditioned to fit right into the groove of these industries. When the newest IPhone comes out and AT&T alerts me that I’m due for an upgrade. When I get an email about a new clothing drop from a brand that I love and so many other advertisements and marketing strategies that we are constantly exposed to. The industries that are buying into these marketing strategies are only contributing to the problem. We are only seeing one side of a double sided coin, the side that benefits us. What most people choose to ignore is the other side. The side that is slowly killing the ecosystems that we rely on every day to survive. 

The fashion industry may be the worst perpetrator of all. We are constantly bombarded with the newest trends and styles and conditioned to believe that if we don’t have them we are somehow less in the eyes of our peers. The textile waste produced by the fashion industry is one of the largest of any other industry in the world. There has yet to be a sustainable solution to this problem mostly due to the lack of awareness about just how bad the problem really is. Many different solutions have been discussed this semester from buying less clothes to buying clothes that will last you a lifetime, but none of these solutions can go into effect without the support of the majority of the population. The sad truth is that there is no end in sight to most of these wicked problems, only a hole that we continue to dig ourselves deeper into. The solution that nobody seems to realize, lies with each and every one of us. We must all choose to make more sustainable choices everyday if we wish to see a way out of the endless hole that only continues to grow deeper and deeper every minute of every day. 

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