I’ve always found it funny that people say ‘it’s all in your head’ as a way of saying ‘it’s not as bad as you think’. But honestly? It is exactly when something gets in our minds that it becomes a real issue.
The problem with today’s fashion industry is that our minds have become victims of our economic system. Everything is disposable. Everything is replaceable. We are allowed to get bored of anything.
And this whole pattern has already started to reflect on human relationships. Your chair just broke? Buy a new one! Your desk is not as appealing as it was when it was brand new? Get rid of it and buy a new one. Are you sure you still like your old mobile phone now that a new model is available? Throw it in the bin and get the newer one.
Clothes have lost their worth as their price becomes lower and lower and we can easily replace them once we get bored or find better options. In the same way, friendships have become disposable and partners have become easily replaceable. Our not valuing things has turned into not being able to value people neither.
The bad news? It’s all in our head. The good news? It’s all in our hands.
What a bunch of beautiful words – I hear your sarcasm. But the truth is, we already know where to start: in our heads. The very first thing to do is to change our mindset along with our ideals.
So dear governments, dear society,
It is frustrating when you decide to introduce sanctions on unsustainable practices. Sanctions act on behavior, but the root cause lies in the mind. A collective process of belief change is necessary, especially if the new behavior requires the collaboration of everyone to be sustained.
Of course the introduction of sanctions is necessary to ensure continuous compliance, since even a few ditchers can have a powerfully detrimental effect on both the environment and entire populations. Yet the introduction of sanctions is SECONDARY to the initial process of belief change, for people must first recognize the negative consequences of their current behavior.
Imagine we find out using umbrellas is extremely dangerous for the planet, and a law is passed which forbids us to use umbrellas when it rains. How many people do you think would actually respect such law? Not many, I would say. You know why? Because using an umbrella is what they have been doing since they were born. Because it is convenient for them to use an umbrella. Because people facing change confront a social dilemma: apparently everyone would benefit from a collective shift, but it is individually tempting to stay in the old familiar habit.
To change a negative custom, especially one as huge as fast fashion, we may want to start by trying to convince the people that such practice (even if it meets a ‘need’) is a drawback, and propose an alternative. And this, dear governments, has to start with education. Spreading awareness is the first step to take in order to get to a belief change.
Let us see what’s behind the clothes we wear so that we can choose not to use our umbrella. But don’t just tell us umbrellas are bad. Instead, show us how to walk under the rain.