Living in a Material World



In our western society, consumerism is at the heart of many facets of life. From new buyers, to repeat loyal customers, owning products and being a consumer of goods can be very important to many. People take pride in their belongings, and something being tactile can give more impact and meaning than simply seeing an object through a photo on their iPhone.


It can be increasingly difficult to keep up with the trends and discourses of fashion, and all of the patterns and colours that merge them together. As the seasons change, and the weeks go on, only more stock gets released, and young women especially, can be dealt with pressure to always look your best, and to always keep up with the latest fashion.


The changing seasons cause confusion at the best of times, in regards to how many layers to wear, if it is safe to wear shorts one day when the day before brought hope with sunshine and blue skies, but the next morning a storm could arise. There can be wardrobe chaos, as well as moral dilemmas about what to wear to keep us warm, or some days cool, if we are lucky!


Fast Fashion


The fast-fashion movement is very detrimental to the environment, as items have to change to keep up with the demand of the consumer, meaning many fabrics and designs are gone to waste, and simply thrown in landfills when they are still perfectly wearable, only deemed as being not the latest design.


As many today are trying to be more conscious of what they buy: questioning where it is sourced, who made it, where it was produced, the list of quantifiers can be never-ending. The convenience of a cheap garment can often be too easy to pass up. Someone walking through town can find themselves browsing the shelves of Primark, I know I am guilty of this.


The cheap prices compared to other big-name stores can make shoppers quickly pick up a few items, without a real occasion to wear them, or perhaps will sit at the back of their drawers as they bought them on a whim.


On a closer inspection, Primark has been using paper bags instead of plastic since 2002, way ahead of other retailers, in the US the brand has partnered with Delivering Good, to donate unsold items to those in need, and they have committed since 2020 to be a part of the Greenpeace Detox campaign, where they hope to eliminate hazardous products from their clothing. It is good these things are in place, but more can be done to care for the workers, and to ensure the clothing is more sustainable to look after our negatively effected planet.


"Ultimately, the fact that Primark’s business model is based on creating huge amounts of short-lived, poorly-made fast fashion products inherently contradicts the values of ethical fashion and spells nothing but bad news for the environment, workers, and animals."

The continual drive and cycle of this industry accumulate to the issue of waste produce, with a huge figure, 10,000 items of clothing being sent to landfill sites every ten minutes! This figure is staggering, and something that must be responded to.


Once that huge number is heard, it can allow many of us to rethink our personal spending habits, and if what we purchase is really necessary. If we buy less frequently or not at all from fast fashion brands, they will have to stop producing these items, as there won't be a high demand.


Our consumer capitalist culture deems that if we have more, we are successful, and possessions should equate to happiness, but that isn't always the case. We can have little, more valuable items, that we take great pride and care in, that can last us a lot longer than a t-shirt we bought once, only because everyone else had and it was popular at the time.


Our opinions on our own style can change and fluctuate so quickly, so buying more things that all look different can often confuse us even more into what direction we wish to present ourselves as.


Consumer Culture


The rise of YouTube and social media can play a role in our consumer culture, as it can be likened to a competitive world, where everyone is trying to outdo each other, who wish be seen with the newest clothes. Nina Opida, fellow Mindless writer, shares how 'hauls' and 'unboxing' videos can easily suck us in, and we find ourselves questioning why are so interested, when each individual should be happy and have pride and ownership in their own styles. You can find her article here.


If you are interested in slowing down the speed of fast fashion, consider signing the petition found here.