Millennials Are Over It: Out With Fast Fashion And In With Fair Trade

It comes as no surprise that Millennials have become one of the most influential forces behind consumerism today. And while everyone is looking to find the best deal and save as much money as possible, Millennials are willing to spend more when it comes to sustainability.

When it comes to beauty products, the first question on a lot of people’s minds is, “is it cruelty-free?”. When buying fresh produce, they want to know “is this locally grown?”. And when buying clothes, many Millennials are asking, “was it made by slave labor?”. Writer and activist Melanie Curtin shared that she willingly spent 38$ on a t-shirt because it’s a brand she trusts to be ethical and sustainable. According to her, Millennials are no longer looking for a product, they’re looking for a lifestyle, and buying Fair Trade has become just that.

After the Rana Plaza factory collapse, consumers’ eyes were finally opened, and while some people were shocked to learn of the working conditions of the women and children in the factories, they soon forgot all about it as they stepped out for their next shopping spree. However, quite fortunately, some consumers did not forget. Over the years, there has been a growing awareness of reducing one’s carbon footprint, going zero-waste, and living a perfectly sustainable lifestyle: “According to Fair Trade USA, brands wanting the certification have grown like crazy the past two years”.

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To help bring awareness to the unethical and unsustainable practices that go into fast fashion, a social experiment was conducted in Berlin where consumers could purchase a t-shirt for roughly 2.22$ in a vending machine. The screen read, “People want fashion at a bargain but would they still buy it if they knew how it was made?” The video then goes on to show the dangerous and unsanitary work environment of the factory and explains the 16 hours days these women and children need to work to earn just 13 cents per day. Suffice to say, many consumers chose to no longer buy the t-shirt, but donate the money instead.

The injustice that comes with unethical fashion has been able to go on for so long because consumers in developed countries are simply uninformed about the reality behind what happens to their clothes before it hits the market. Safia Minney, fashion designer, and activist shared on her blog: “Shockingly, it is easier today to buy products made by slaves, than to buy slave-free products”. Shockingly, only 5% of the current textile market is considered sustainable. But as more consumers are becoming aware that slavery is still very real today, more and more fashion companies are stepping up their game to be more ethically and sustainably driven.

However, the responsibility to help create ethical and sustainable fashion doesn’t lie only with the companies and manufacturers. Consumers need to play their part, and as millennials have been demonstrating, the power of where we choose to invest our money – and just to clarify here that buying from sustainable sources is absolutely an investment into more durable clothes and shoes – impacts where companies will further choose to continue making their own investments. We have the power here, let’s do something with it.

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