BUY LESS, BUY BETTER

IMAGE: RICK HONG MANAYAN

In collaboration with Natalie Kay of Sustainably Chic, Loam is launching a "Stop Fast Fashion" campaign to encourage a new kind of conscious consumerism. Over the course of the month, we'll provide you with tangible tools and inspiration for cultivating a conscious closet. 

Writing about environmentally-friendly shopping in the wake of the recent election doesn't feel right. Everything this week hasn't felt right. We are facing this enormously uncertain future and it's natural to vacillate between immense grief and wild determination. I'm fearful for our climate. I'm fearful for our Muslim, Latino, Black, Immigrant, Native, and LGBTQ brothers and sisters whose lives are threatened by Trump. And I am also so energized to act, to take building a better world into my own hands. 

So when I sat down to write this essay—the second in our monthlong "Stop Fast Fashion" campaign—I struggled at first with what to say. How could I make this meaningful when our country is in the throes of mourning? How can I talk about fashion when we have a president elect whose platform normalizes hate speech, sexual assault, and climate denial? 

Well, firstly, talking about climate-conscious shopping doesn't preclude me from talking about what's happening in our world right now. I am going to fight so fiercely for our earth and for civil liberties. This catastrophe is truly an opportunity to nurture community, to give love generously. 

And secondly, the whole "buy less, buy better" mantra is in many ways a call to arms against the capitalist structures that gave Trump life. It's a way to reinvest in the local. And now, more than ever, we need to support local government, local businesses, and local artisans. Here lies hope. 

Fast fashion is part of a toxic coal-powered industry that is fueling environmental destruction and threatening human lives. Especially in the face of a president whose "environmental" policies will destroy our planet (and by extension, ourselves) we can't decide that grabbing a cute dress at Urban Outfitters is worth more than our right to life. If this sounds extreme, it's only because we've been trained not to see the connection between clean, well-lit stores and the polluting factories that produce their clothes. And we have to. Our world needs us to. 

In our fraught political and social climate, buying less and buying better is a radical act. By choosing to not shop at chain stores such as Zara, H & M, and Anthropologie, we're also choosing not to support the coal industry whose tainted energy fuels their factories. We have to buy much, much less because materialism is fueling climate catastrophe. And we have to buy better—better quality, longer-lasting—because we can't treat this world as if she's disposable.

And one last thing: buying less and buying better is by no means a sacrifice. It's an invitation to live a more succulent, a more beautiful, a more sustainable life. We don't need all that much. What if we truly loved what we wore? What if we only shopped when it was in support of a local artisan whose craft is nurturing a reciprocal—and not exploitative—relationship to the earth? 

Let's reinvest in the local. Let's continue to support the beauty way. And let's never forget that our actions, no matter how "small", can have tremendous resonance.