Hey guys! So today I want to write about something I have been really interested in since I started uni. We live in a world, where we are constantly buying new things, spending tons of money on food and clothes and electronics. And we are producing an insane amount of waste. Speaking for myself, I have started being more aware of this. I started noticing all the food i waste, when I moved to Denmark, because I was suddenly the one cleaning out the fridge and shelves in the kitchen. I found out that I buy a lot of things, that we don't eat. I realised that the opportunity to buy so many things in the supermarket stops me from thinking rationally about what I can actually eat in a week before it goes bad and I started hoarding things, that would go bad and I would have to throw them out. And I think I am not the only one who has this problem.
Food waste is a serious issue. It is estimated that one third of food that is produced goes to waste. Isn't that insane? If you think about it, it is crazy that one third of what we buy we throw out! Imagine all the money we, as individuals could save if we didn't overbuy. But food waste is only a part of it- today I want to discuss the increasing troubles concerning the retail industry. As I mentioned previously, I am not a big shopper. So I have a pretty empty closet, with a few pairs of pants, some sweaters, dresses etc. But i wear all of it, and only add to my wardrobe once in a while. But I know that some of my friends go crazy at H&M and other cheap stores, where you can buy nearly anything for under $10. I know that sometimes I buy things because they are cheap as well- I buy them because they cost for example 300DKK and not 3000DKK. And the issue is, that people are buying more then they can wear. If you go look into your closet, I am sure you will find a few items that you only had on once or twice and totally forgot that you had them!
The fact that clothes is so cheap today adds on to a whole different problem, that many are not aware of. Clothes are produced in huge factories in developing countries, where people work in horrible conditions and get paid very very little, because of the demand for cheap clothes that we create. The issue is that the factory owners in the countries where clothes is produced can not pay more to their workers, because of the fact that the need to cater to the needs of the large corporations placing orders and if they didn't they would loose business, because the retail brands would find other, cheap production sites.
In one way or another, there are many initiatives around the world, trying to deal with this. They try to make regulations from the side of the large corporations and try to raise the minimum wage and working conditions of the workers in the factories. All that is nice, but the real problem is that the corporations need to make a profit and get business from us, the consumers. And currently we want everything to be as cheap as possible, so we can buy more and more. So even if there are regulations and people trying to increase the wages and quality of life for factory workers, the price of the clothing is so low, that there is only little room to manoeuvre in. What I mean is that if H&M suddenly raised their clothes prices by 50% they would loose so much business. People would just move on to a different cheap retailer.
This is why I wanted to write about this, because we need to realise what is happening in the world and change the way we consume goods. We need to be more aware of the environmental and social issues that we are producing by demanding large quantities of cheap clothes. We really need to look at ourselves and try to change our behaviour. Because if we don't not only will it be very dangerous for the workers who make the clothes, but it will also have a severe environmental impact. All the clothes we dispose of ( even if it is to charity) will end up in land fills and is polluting the earth. There is a lot of interesting literature and documentaries online about this issue, I would recommend watching " The True Cost" a documentary, which you can find on Netflix about the retail industry and what is happening now, at the very moment that I am writing this. We have to wake up and realise that buying cheap clothes, in one way or another, is not good for anyone!
I know this post is kind of intense, but I really think that we need to raise awareness of issues that are important. And I have decided to start doing more research in the field of sustainability and consumption at school.