By ANGELA D’ALTON
Australians collectively spend over $6 million a year on fashion items that end in landfill.
During a recent trip to New York I purchased a pair of boots from a Brooklyn store that have a lifetime warranty. If I ever have a problem with my boots, the store will provide me with a replacement pair.
That’s not only exceptional customer service, but that’s a belief in the product and an effort to not contribute further to an ever increasing landfill problem created by thoughtless consumption.
Conscious consumption is rare in our consumer driven society, especially when the mass produced fashion industry survives on the fickle marketing of trends, begging consumers to engage in a cycle of buying and discarding. Conscious consumption is about consciously expressing your individuality and not buying into trends created by marketing.
Using vintage or pre-loved pieces, mixed with handmade items you can find from the makers at markets, or online through market places such as Etsy, supports a new economy that isn’t based on disposability.
Plus, as a consumer, you are re-affirming traditional commercial connections within the community that have been lost since the industrial revolution and post-war consumerism took full effect.
I was born in the early part of 1973 and brought up by, at the time, young semi-bougie, pseudo-hippy Baby Boomer parents – the ultimate consumers. My father worked for fashion brand Levi, then for Amco and Wrangler (when jeans were made in both Sydney and Adelaide) and at one time we even had our own jeans shop. I was the first kid in Australia to own a pair of toddler sized Levi jeans, thereby cementing my interest in fashion.
After school, I bought into the corporate world, even though I had dreamed of a far more creative inner-west bohemian life. After leaving home I needed luxuries such as food and shelter, so I silenced my creative side and earned money during the technology boom. I spent all my newly earned money on fashion, including expensive investment pieces and cheaper disposable fashion, but I eventually hit a wall of depression and anxiety, dissatisfied with life that no amount of clothing could fix.