This week I presented for a second time, material from a research of mine about how to dress ethically, to consumers interested in the subject. A big question for me surrounding this topic and others related to sustainable business is: what is the real power of consumers?
Yes, we have been “domesticated” into consumerism. Just as dogs are taught to sit or roll, we have been taught to buy. The promises around what do we have or should have are around status, attention, self-satisfaction and pleasure. All things that if you go into a deeper discussion about meaningfulness and purpose are seen as ridiculous, empty or as distraction which mislead us. Still, we buy without much consciousness, don’t we? I believe most of us do.
In order to talk about my findings in relation to sustainable and fair fashion to other consumers, I decided I should undertake a serious exercise on myself. I wanted to check how much I am being conscious of what I am wearing. I knew I was not a benchmarking, but what I found terrified me. By going through every single piece in my wardrobe I realised how many times I have broken my own purpose in life. How many numerous times I bought something on an impulse without checking material, labels or origin. I did not care if the workers making my clothes were, or not, paid a fair wage, I just checked on price. I did not care if the process to obtain the fabrics and colours were polluting or using resources as land, water or energy in a responsible was, I just noticed if I looked good and comfortable in those pieces.
This was before I have realised and committed into a sustainable living and into having a business to support sustainable economy and society. This comes from years of bad habits, still, it terrified me. Why? Because I saw the gap we still have to close and how big it is. The majority of people I know, nice and fine people, behave still in this way with no awareness, much less intention, to change or even to consider changing.
Isn’t this exactly what the fast fashion industry counts on? Isn’t it a fact that if we consumers would seriously demand change, not with words but with the action of conscious shopping habits, change would come? And faster? Isn’t it in our power to make change happen? As any serious high-performance study or personal growth model would tell us change can only happen from within. Basically, the only person I can change is myself, as the only person you can change is yourself. But why aren’t we all doing so? One of the reasons is the gap in achieving awareness, good information, etc. I came to believe, though, that a lot of it, is because we do not believe or even realize the power in us.
Of course, companies and governments have an enormous role to play. We are used to see them as the power figures, not us, the regular people. But I think it is time for us to embrace the power we have. If I, you and others change, the world change. I have a long journey of changes ahead to travel, but I am committed to do it a few steps a day. Are you too?
I assure you one thing: once you discover the power in you, it brings lots of fun and happiness!