It was that time of the year again. Deepavali fever gripped Bukit Jalil, Brickfields, Klang, Ipoh and other mega sale hotspots. People flocked to shops, spending hours looking for the perfect sarees, lahenga and all kinds of traditional wear.
For so many years, people are engrossed with the idea that it is mandatory to purchase new clothes during any big celebrations.
Tradition vs Pollution
I did a little research around the following question – how do the clothes we wear affect us on Deepavali?
Most of the answers I retrieved from the Internet and my Hindu friends are linked to our spiritual well-beings. As prescribed by Hindu Dharma, it is a form of protection from bad spirits. There is also a belief that Goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity) visits our home on the auspicious day, thus we should wear new clothes to show gratitude.
Let me be clear, I am not a religious or spiritual guru. In any culture, we have reasons why we do certain things.
Personally, I strongly believe in rethinking culture. It is important to evaluate whether a certain tradition is still relevant in the 21st century, especially if it is an action which may cause harm to our environment.
After all, what is wrong with having a different cultural perspective for the sake of our planet?
Making small changes
As someone with eco-anxiety, I am trying to reduce my environmental footprint as much as I can. This year, I refused to buy any new clothes for Deepavali. As an alternative, I tried looking for second-hand options, but it didn’t work out. Hence, I wore what I already have in my wardrobe.
Why is it such a big deal?
Ever wondered what happens to your clothes after you discard them?
According to Kloth Cares, Malaysians produce more than 2000 tonnes of textile waste a day, which makes up 5% of solid waste that end up in the landfills. In fact, fast fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world!
To make matters worse, Malaysians often get a lot more excited to shop during the festive seasons. We would search for last minute deals and spend money on things that we do not actually need. We fail to realize that every little thing we do has an impact on our planet, including our shopping addiction.
The environmental cost of fast fashion
Big brands such as H&M, Cotton On, Zara and so on are selling mass-manufactured fashion products. The methods and materials used for cloth production are immensely polluting. Also, the garment workers are being pressured under exploitative working conditions.
Living in such a fast-paced world, we want everything to be easy and budget-friendly. As fast fashion outlets keep popping up all over the place, in tandem with modern consumer trends and increasing ubiquity as well as rock-bottom prices, we become further inclined to support the industry, rapidly fuelling its growth.
On the contrary, there are not many affordable ethical clothing brands around us. Convenience and low revenue are among key constraints holding such options back.
What can we do to help anyway?
There are a lot of things that we can do to help preserve our natural resources. Even small changes matter.
Perhaps, we could start by embracing preloved fashion as a growing trend. It is an ethical alternative to shop for new clothes. Although preloved clothes are not often considered fresh out of the box, they can still put on a new and refreshing style on us.
In this way, most importantly, we help keep those unwanted fabrics away from landfills.
We can also consider shifting our mindset when we shop for new clothes. Instead of thinking based on mere emotion, how about making decisions based on its ethicality?
In other words, ethical thinking > emotional thinking
“Will this dress look good on me”?
“Can this shirt impress people”?
“Are these trendy shoes”?
“Is it cheap”?
“Do I really need this shirt”?
“Where does it come from”?
“Will it leave any environmental impact”?
“Who made this cloth”?
Does all these sound like a thing? Then you may want to read this article I’ve written for Biji-biji Fashion, plenty of preloved fashion tips and more! Click here https://bijibiji.co/blogs/posts/slowing-down-fast-fashion