Quality over quantity

I recently read an interesting article from Helsingin sanomat newspapers NYT-liite. The article told a story about a 24-year old shopaholic girl, who kept a diary of her purchases for one week. In the article she tells that she has so much clothes, that she doesn’t even have enough room for them in her apartment, so she had to take part of her clothes and shoes to her parents house. She considers that shopping is her hobby and really fun way to spend time (even nights). In the one studied week she spend 526 euros in new clothes and shoes and this was in off-season in October and she says that after getting her monthly salary, everything that has left over her mandatory expenses, she spends on clothes and shoes. In the article she tells that she isn’t so interested in brands or quality of the clothes, she just buys the image that they represent. The interviewer asks her what she thinks about buying clothes that are made in Bangladesh or other low-cost country. She answers that because the garment is already made and is on sale in the shop, it isn’t so bad if I buy it. Damage is already done. The comments that this article and interview got were crushing. http://nyt.fi/20130913-himoshoppaaja-piti-nytille-ostospaeivaekirjaa-perusviikolla-paloi-500-euroa/

After reading this story, I got a bit angry and my first thought was, this girl has no idea what she’s doing. Haven’t she heard of ethical issues of low-cost productions, over production, climate change, waste and chemical problems or recycling?

We are all living in a disposable culture. We’ve created a consumer culture that relies on underpaying employees in other cultures. Things are so cheaply made that we don’t think twice about throwing them out and buying more. Shirts and pants are now so cheap that we could probably just trash our dirty laundry every day, buy replacements, and barely damage our bank account at all.  I believe that many products are intentionally manufactured to be temporary. Continuous buying of new garments and gadgets keeps the entrepreneurs happy, but wastes enormous amounts of raw materials and energy.

Interesting fact is that, the number of clothes that UFF sorting center got from beginning of year 2000 has now tripled. When year 1990 clothes that arrived to UFF was 820 000 kilos, the corresponding number was 10 years later almost 4 million kilos. Last year the amount raised over 9 million kilos of clothes. Most of the sorting centers clothes come from the capital Helsinki. In the worst years, over 40% of clothes is just waste. Textile piles in landfills are getting unbearable. One Finnish person throws approximately 20 kilos of clothes away every year.  http://www.hs.fi/kaupunki/Keräysastioihin+päätyy+yhdeksän+miljoonaa+kiloa+vaatteita/a1379061054730

I’m sure we all buy things that we don’t’ need and consume more than necessary. We all buy clothes that are made in Far East like Bangladesh, which is almost impossible avoid because over 80% of clothes that are sold in Finland, come from Far East. After thinking about it and reading the judgmental comments of the article, I got a feeling that this girl just got thrown under a truck in this article and the whole waste problem is blamed on her, just by giving her face to all of this.

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6 Responses to Quality over quantity

  1. marikakontio says:

    This is very important subject. We don´t think about the factory workers and their poor working conditions in Bangladesh when we buy clothes. I´m also certain, that there are plenty of girls that think the same way as the girl in the article, that it´s ok to purchase the garment because it´s already made. Where should we tell these girls, and boys, about the problems we cause by buying things we don´t need? Should we visit the landfills where the clothes end up?

  2. maruspaavola says:

    Consumption has risen to a whole different level of Y and Z generations. Hanging out in shopping malls may be a way to spend your time. Aino Majava said well,maybe that should be something more to do with your free time. Probably attracted to the importance of education to bring out and restrict young people hanging out in shopping malls. Very good, that thing will get publicity. Article girl has done a wonderful gesture and brought the problem out.
    In this case, it is good to think about the accountability of each from a different perspective, and to bring people’s awareness of things that can affect the buying behavior. What is the consumer, companies, government and educators responsibility? At what point these things really start to think about? The consumer does not necessarily always understand or are not interested to think about things until the end.
    Facts is also good to remember and think about the impact of consumerism. Things certainly is not unambiguous and implementation of the changes may be really difficult.
    http://www.3t.fi/artikkeli/uutiset/talous/luonnonvarat_kaytetty_loppuun_talta_vuodelta

  3. mariakas2013 says:

    Good point! And sadly we all do so, or most of us. Still you can’t be sure even if you buy the more expensive clothes that they are produced ethically. The clothes can come from the same factory, as the cheaper clothing. A few years ago I saw a documentary about brand jeans and the effects of what they entail for workers when they are forced to breathe daily horrible chemicals without protection.

  4. blogittaja says:

    This post was good, keep the good work going!

  5. tuoala says:

    I liked this writing, and the same do feel embarrassed that I as well buy clothes… Well too much is too much and this is what the blog is about. As previous commentator brought up just by buying more expensive clothes you cannot be sure how they were produced. The more scary point is about the trend that people buy just for the fun, do get the excitement out of it and tend not to think any consequences. Shopping clothes is one thing, in the other hand I see then trend growing also in the decoration. The price for furniture’s have gone down, especially after the one chain has it’s tentacles almost every corner of earth, and since it is cheaper it is more attracting to change the feel of your flat more often. Plastic this and plastic that, not mentioning how the goods are produced I feel even more threatened with this trend compared to clothes shopping.

  6. Sarem Lotfollahi says:

    Good point. But the clothes that comes from Far East are most often significantly cheaper. And, unfortunately, nowadays young people buy more and more clothes. Young people do not have that much money and they need to get a lot of clothes so there is no other choice but to buy cheap clothes which are made in a ethically questionable working conditions.

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