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Your Guide to Guilt-free Shopping

Why to Shop Sustainably: Motivation to Change Your Consumer Habits



Why should I shop ethically when it’s harder and more expensive?
When it’s hard to stay motivated, one idea is to think of fast fashion as a form of littering. It’s easier to throw trash on the ground than to find a way to dispose of it properly. The reason littering is bad is because you make your desire for convenience into a problem for someone else to deal with. Your trash stays behind long after you leave, with nothing to make you give it a second thought. Most of us believe this is wrong, possibly because we can see the cause and effect directly.



The only difference between littering and supporting fast fashion is that with fashion, the effects on the environment and other people, while very real, are invisible to the consumer. We see only the convenient store with cheap pricing and a great selection, and we don’t have to face the decimated wildlife, the polluted rivers and toxic smog, or the landfills full of piles of barely-used clothing that is out of fashion. We are hardly aware of the child-laborers, the people deprived of their lands natural resources due to reckless industrialization, or of those same people forced to work in unsafe factories that don’t even pay them enough for their families to survive.


As long as people care only about buying the maximum amount of clothes possible for the least amount of money, there will be situations like this all over the world. We can’t rely on poverty-stricken countries to keep their own people safe or trust big corporations to care about people more than their bottom lines if we don’t. The amount of clothing we feel entitled to for a certain amount of money is inflated because other people are paying the price, and the big box stores only get away with that because the abuse is so hidden that it’s completely socially acceptable to shop there.


Littering is frowned upon in our culture because it is selfish. Maybe it’s time to pull back the curtain on fast fashion so people realize what choice they’re actually making when they shop for clothes. The next time you feel tempted to buy a trendy top on sale at the big box store near you, try picturing yourself tossing a dirty diaper out of your car window and driving away. The sustainable shopping movement is growing because there are so many people who want their impact on this earth to be part of the solution, not the problem.

This article is part 3 in a 4-part series on the What, Where, Why, and How of Ethical Shopping.

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