behind my decision to not buy any new clothes in 2015

Where I live, 75%* of the real estate of cigarette packaging illustrates the medical risk linked to smoking. The images are gross. Diseased organs and such. The idea, of course, is to deter people from smoking.

I wondered last week what would happen if the same idea was implemented on clothing tags.

This was after I watched a new documentary called The True Cost (FYI it's on Netflix). It examines the implications of the fast fashion craze. Among many other incidents and issues, it features the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. The western appetite for up-to-the-minute, dirt cheap fashion has created dangerous conditions for the thousands of factories that these items' production has been outsourced to. It doesn't take long for the viewer to learn how little our #ootd posts and unboxing videos are really worth.  Or, rather, how costly they are.

So, what if the top half of the price tag on a the last shirt you bought had this picture on it: 

Or maybe this one:

Would you have bought it?

Last year I became more aware of the ethical clothing issue and decided to take a baby step to honour it. I committed to not purchasing a new piece of clothing unless I could confirm it was ethically made for all of 2015. As of today I have only bought a second-hand cardigan at Value Village. I did buy a few accessories throughout the year that I am unsure of but I have allowed myself some grace and kept this challenge to actual articles of clothing. It has been difficult, resisting temptation, realizing just how much of what we buy out there is questionably sourced, and getting creative with what limited selection my wardrobe already has (you don't appreciate the versatility of a black maxi dress until you wear it to three parties straight, people).

I don't know what I will do when this year winds down. The pairs of leggings I depend on so dearly in the winter have seen their last days so instead of this strategy of avoidance, I am going to have to start working on researching good quality, ethically-made garments and investing some coin on some reliable, sturdy pieces. (My first stop is The Art of Simple's ethical shopping guide)

Next year, who knows? I don't think I can go back to my old way of dressing myself, and I will be the first to declare that I have been a very good customer to these brands that fuel the fire because, well, I don't have a lot of money to spend on clothes. Will I take my daydream of trying to make my own clothes seriously? Will I gravitate towards mid-riff tops because that's all I can find at American Apparel? Will I wear my plaid pyjama pants under my faithful black maxi next February?

We'll see.  Stay tuned.

All I know is that I can't afford to not try to do better as a consumer and fellow citizen of the world.


*Canadian Cancer Society, Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International
Status Report, Fourth Edition, September 2014

Image credits: 1) Sajid Hossain for Reuters, Ecoterre 2) Kevin Fraye for Associated Press, Ecoterre