We live in a disposable world. What has been used, worn and felt once can be put in the corner and left moulding. All we are left with is a memory of that time we wore that lace white shirt or the sunny day in our yellow bikini. We can associate moments with clothing because we always wear something different.
What’s in Your SHEIN Basket?
I think most of us are well aware of the current climate crisis that the world is facing. We are likely to be covered in plastic somewhere in between the next 30 and 50 years, that is, if the earth doesn’t set itself on fire before that. Climate change is a big issue: we talk about it, we acknowledge it’s there, we even protest about it, and yet it is not enough. Because once the conversation with a schoolmate is closed and the protest is over we go home and we open our phone and just casually move on with our day, perhaps by shopping online and adding items to our Shein basket. In mine, I have a pair of beige jeans, the double color ones that are trending now; a pair of jeans that I definitely do not need. There is also a red top and a handbag with daisies, things that, again, I do not need. I can easily survive without these items and yet, I feel drawn to them, like if I bought them I could feel better and look exactly like I want to look. So, they are there, ready to be checked out, but I don’t buy them, not yet. Why? Because I am a student, who has to work part time in order to maintain a life in Amsterdam. I do not buy things that I do not need, or at least I try. One day, however, I came back home after a stressful day and all I needed was something to make myself feel better. It’s only 20 euros after all, I can’t think of finding these items for a cheaper price anywhere else, and so I process to check out. And that’s that feeling of joy, right there, for a moment I smile and I forget about my hard day.
A Generation of Compulsive Buyers
Have you ever seen the movie ‘I love Shopping’? Well, if you haven’t, I suggest you do. Because that temporary feeling of joy you felt while buying new clothes is so much more common that we might think. Companies like Shein and Zaful made millions on that feeling. They show you something you want because you need to fit in, this is a big part of what trends are: the need of people to fit it, to say ‘hey, I am here too and I am just like you’. But we need to stretch our minds a little bit further than that, we need to be able to tell ourselves that the 17 t-shirts we own will do perfectly fine and that we do not need that new super cute sleeveless jacket. Because, what is the point of attending protests for climate change if a minute later we are sitting on the bus buying fast fashion products? I think it’s not news to anybody how fast fashion companies are bad for the environment, how most of them use child labor and how much pollution they produce. It is not news to anybody, we all know. I am aware, you are aware, and yet…here we are, doing nothing about it. What does that say about our generation?
Less Talk, More Action
Well, you know what, I am. I am a superficial and a hypocrite. I think I am part of a generation that has the power to make real change and I am fueled by that belief, I am empowered by that idea. I see possibilities all around me, but will they matter if in 20 years this world will be made of plastic?
We have been defined as superficials. We have been told we do not have any new ideas because all we do is stare at a screen 24/7. We have been broken down by stereotypes. We, however, have always risen up, showing that we are better. Are we though? Because lots of talk and no action sounds pretty superficial to me. Because if I go to a climate change protest and don’t recycle in my own house I’m a hypocrite. Well, you know what, I am. I am a superficial and a hypocrite. I think I am part of a generation that has the power to make real change and I am fueled by that belief, I am empowered by that idea. I see possibilities all around me, but will they matter if in 20 years this world will be made of plastic? Will all of our dreams matter if 25 years from now we won’t be able to breathe our own air because it’s too polluted?
Why Should It Be Me?
Last summer I spent a lot of time in the mountains, appreciating how breathtaking the world can be from up there. I drank good water and filled my lungs with clean air. It’s a beautiful world from up there, but once you get down, back to the city, you don’t recognize it anymore. Trash is everywhere, cars are honking all around you and you don’t seem to be able to find a quiet place where you can listen to your own thoughts. It’s important sometimes, to sit down with ourselves and evaluate how we’ve been doing. How did you feel about throwing that cigarette on the ground the other day? How did you feel when you went to McDonald’s for the fifth time in a week? How did you feel when you threw away expired food in your fridge because you went to McDonald’s too often? I did not feel good. And yet I did it, sometimes without even thinking about it twice, because it’s easier and everyone is doing so what is one more person going to change? Everything.
One person can change everything. Someone needs to make the first step, someone needs to be brave enough. Find the strength to cook something for yourself. Walk past that store where clothes are cheap, do not even look at it, enter next door instead where, yes, clothes might be more expensive, but an actual person made them with love. Certain things are not disposable, they can be reused. Exchange your clothes with a friend, sell them on Vinted, give them to charity if you do not like them, but stop supporting fast fashion because it’s not good for you. It’s not good for us. It’s not good for our futures. We deserve better. So, here I am, making my first step, because we all know that every journey starts with a single step. I am looking at it, my Shein app is staring back, laughing in my face, but it’s finally time to delete it and start doing my part.
Cover: Nataliya Vaitkevich
Edited by: Rajal Monga