November 11, 2014
My initial thought with taking part in this “Be Green” challenge is, “Can I really do this?”
I severely suffer from “perceived obsolescence”, which is the main idea that fuels consumer purchases today. Every season brings about a “need” for a new coat, pair of shoes, shorts, etc., but how often to people really need these new items? Almost never. This perceived “need” is due to outdated trends, hence the perceived obsolescence of perfectly usable clothing.
This is why I questioned whether or not I could go through with this challenge. I am an avid shopper, and with winter approaching I definitely did feel a need for more warm coats and sweaters (even though the wardrobe I have could probably last me two lifetimes). Even the number of shoes I own is absurd, which I just came to realize earlier today while participating in my friend’s focus group about shoes for her TXC 107 class. She asked me and the other 6 participants in the focus group how many pairs of shoes we owned. Everyone answered in the ballpark of around 14-25 pairs, and there I sat in, chin rested in my hand, struggling to just count the pairs that were in my apartment in Davis alone (I have more back home in Daly City). I gave up and just said 40, but when I got back to my apartment I had about 37 pairs there alone. Taking into consideration the shoes I also have at home, I estimate I have around a little over 60 pairs of shoes total. There’s even a good amount of those that are still sitting in their boxes, unworn. This is when I realized that the Go-Green challenge is definitely a good thing for me.
One video I’ve seen in my TXC 174 class, “The Story of Stuff”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLBE5QAYXp8 is definitely a great video to learn about how globalization contributes to producing the products available to us. It also makes a great point about how much America over-consumes, as we make “5% of the world’s population, yet use 30% of the world’s resources”. Not only is this excessive consumerism negatively impacting our environment by using up resources, but it is also affecting the lives of those who contribute to producing the items we consume (as described with the example of the radio selling for $4.99 in the video).
The video we watched in class “Made in L.A.” goes into depth just one of the steps that goes into the long process of garment production. I think it’s a well-known fact that garment production is usually done by lower class citizens who do not get paid very well, yet we saw in the video the intimate details of how much the lack of labor laws affected workers’ lives. This film really answers the question of why we are able to buy items at such low prices. The price shown on the tag that we pay is definitely not enough to really cover the cost of producing the item. As mentioned by Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman, and Ito in Santa’s Sweatshop, “in an era when the economy is necessarily a global one, it is impossible for consumers to avoid products made under less than ideal labor conditions” (273). Essentially, the low cost of the item we purchase comes at a cost for laborers, who might earn only a couple cents for producing that item.
I was already aware that I fall victim to over consumption, but I never had a specific idea of how much I consume until I counted the number of shoes I owned. This Be-Green challenge will not only motivate me to reduce consumption, but it has motivated me to donate or sell half of the shoes I own in hopes of slimming down my wardrobe.
Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman and Ito. “Santa’s Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, it’s Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift – and Under What Conditions.”
Story of Stuff. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2014, from http://storyofstuff.org/