A month ago, the overconsumption monster made its first appearance at BENU!
The overconsumption monster!
He came to warn us, to scare us, to show us horrendous numbers and facts representing our overconsumption rate here in Luxembourg… For example, did you know that in 2021, the average Luxembourg citizen spent 1,390 € on shoes and clothing, putting us at the top of the list in Europe? Such a small country and yet we’re at the top. And that’s the ugly truth…
Clothes and shoes made of plastic fibres leave unerasable traces behind that end up in our environment (e.g through washing) in the form of microplastics, therefore impossible to see…quite scary!
A study by the International Union of Conservation of Nature shows that a total of 35% of microplastic in the world’s oceans come from synthetic textile fibres. Numerous clothing pieces contain hazardous substances which pollute our environment. In 2016, EU-authorities declared that clothes are a ‘risky product group’ - in fact, they are likely to contain even more hazardous materials than motor vehicles (clothes contain up to 17% of them, compared to vehicles which contain up to 10%). Can you imagine wearing that on your bare skin EVERYDAY? (Imagine a bunch of little insects crawling on your skin and you can’t see them, you can’t get rid of them. That is what we think of when we talk about microplastics being on our bare skin.) We’re simply horrified just thinking about it…
Our waters around the globe are polluted by 6.500 different toxic and carcinogenic chemicals used in textile production (e.g. heavy metals such as copper, arsenic and cadmium). This means that we are not only wearing toxic particles but also EATING them while ingesting any kind of sea food. Back to the insects, can you imagine having insects crawling around your stomach and other organs and there is still nothing you can do about it? Terrifying!
One more frightening fact we learned first hand from our friends, THE REVIVAL: The clothes which we think are going to the poor when we throw them into containers, end up in the Global South. More specifically, in Kantamanto, Ghana, the biggest second-hand market in the world. But Kantamanto is not the biggest in the world entirely by their choice, but rather by the choices made by the Global North. THE REVIVAL proceeded to show us what the market and surroundings look like. They are submerged by tons of unwanted clothes. The beaches, once so idyllic, are now but mountains and mountains of fast fashion clothing. Imagine a mountain of clothing and you’re still not nearly as close to the pictures we saw. We were appalled by it. Simply flabbergasted.
So now you’re asking yourself why did we create a monster at BENU?
Do we want to be part of the Halloween spooky season and it’s scary overconsumption impact on our planet? Obviously not. But we do love to share scary facts with you while giving you a ‘fun’ representation of the truth…
The overconsumption monster was created by our team to spread an important message. He was created out of clothes that were labeled as ‘not worthy’ or ‘trash’ by our community. (Excuse us, what? Clothes are not worthy or are trash?)
The monster represents 3 important pillars of consumption:
1. The textile industry: the main structure of the monster represents the textile industry and its problems. Problems which are attacking nature around us by contaminating the soil when the material is cultivated, because, yes, soils of cotton plantations, for example, are also contaminated with chemicals…
2. The customers: overconsumption makes our monster grow. It’s as simple, but as scary as that. By over-consuming, we are just feeding the monster more and more, making it bigger, stronger, scarier…Customers represent the arms and legs of the monster, because without locomotion organs, the body cannot go far and survive, thus without over-consumers, the monster cannot survive. And thus, the main message emerges: Let's reduce overconsumption together and start consuming consciously, so that the environment can rest and the monster can stop growing!
Let’s be the super heroes we’ve all always wanted to be growing up.
3. The nature: the textile industry and the consumers will always have a strong connection to nature. As human beings, we are always going to have an innate need to be in contact with nature, but unfortunately we are also the ones destroying it…
So, is this it?
Do we just give up and accept the consequences of our actions? Do we even acknowledge that there are consequences to our actions? Consequences that will most likely be felt by future generations more drastically than we are feeling right now. Do we just let our planet drown in clothes? Should we just keep feeding the monster with our toxic habits? NO, but, sadly, some of us choose to.
But BENU has some tips on how you can stop overconsuming or just start consuming consciously:
First and foremost, give yourself the time to ask pertinent questions: Do I really need this? Is this a want or a need to have? Will I truly use it? Will I still want this in 30 days time? Question every little thing, because every garment, even if it carries a sustainability label, causes water consumption, pollution and social discrimination. They will also inevitably and regrettably land somewhere in the Global South. The problem persists. Plus point: fewer clothes also means less detergent! Tips from a BENU team member: put the item on a 30 Day list. Will you still remember the item after that period? No? Then it definitely wasn’t a need to have.
Repair your clothes and keep using them! High quality garments can be repaired and reused for a long long time. Holes in your jumper, torn jeans? Don’t throw them away! Try your hand at mending them yourself. Or if you’re not comfortable with it, ask a tailor’s shop for help.
Organise swap parties! Swapping or giving away clothes is good for the environment and your wallet! What is more fun than to gather with your friends and family, have some delicious drinks while swapping your unwanted clothes, or even items…and also food! Do we need to say more? Swapping parties are the new trend and they help you get rid of your ‘old’ clothes, objects or even food that you won’t eat anymore.
How about borrowing or renting your clothes? That way you can add variety to your wardrobe. A special occasion on the horizon? Rental platforms offer unusual fashion and accessories that you wouldn’t have any use for later. Examples below:
Buy second-hand! Second-hand reduces new production and protects the environment and resources. So in other words, buying second-hand means less packaging and waste. It’s also usually cheaper than buying new clothes. The planet and your wallet say thank you. Examples below:
Start Upcycling your old clothes, or clothes that you don’t wear. Give them a second life! You can find so many easy DIY videos on the Internet on how to create something new with something ‘old’.
Buy UpCycling Fashion! Upcycling is creative, individual and sustainable. If you’re not comfortable or feel like you could do more harm than good to your clothes, look for upcycling fashion shops. You’d be surprised how many there actually are. Look for the services provided by the shops. Some shops create personalised garments or accessories out of your old beloved clothes. (BENU COUTURE offers personalised services, for example). Find other UpCyclers at Lët'z Refashion:
Last but not least, stop buying fast-fashion! Trends come and go, but clothes STAY and they will find their way to landfills and beach shores eventually, because WE just want to follow the trend. We need to let go off the constant pressure to look a certain way.
Honestly, we could give you all the tips in the world, but nothing will change if we don’t change our habits! It’s time to let go off the mindset that we need to follow every single trend in order to be fashionable and happy. It’s time to let go of the mindset that second-hand, borrowed or rented clothes are of lesser quality or just, plain and simple, dirty. It’s time to stop letting society dictate what, which brand and how we wear fashion. It’s time to change our habits. Some of us are already doing a lot, and some of us are still learning, and that's ok…but we have to ACT NOW, together…
STOP FEEDING THE MONSTER & START MAKING A CHANGE!