One experience I have had with witnessing social phenomena occurred on ‘Black Friday” a few years ago while I was living in the United States. The sheer amount of people waiting in line to storm the shopping center was honestly anxiety-inducing. Have you ever seen any of those videos online of the frenzied shoppers trampling and physically fighting each other to grab a certain retailed scarf or pair of jeans? While this is certainly an exaggerated example of how people are attracted to cheap and easily attainable goods, the driving force behind it can be seen across the globe. With the introduction of online shopping, it has never been easier to mindlessly consume. And while that may be a luxury for some people, it comes as a hefty burden for others.
In the 2015 documentary titled “The True Cost”, the deconstruction of this sort of “fast fashion-era” is examined. Adding something to your virtual cart is as easy as breathing, and saving your credit card information even more so. But stopping to consider the ethicality of what we’re buying should also play a role in our shopping decisions. With the ease of the internet at our fingertips, there are also countless resources through which we can seek information on where our products are coming from. Not only that, but the manner in which they’re being produced in the first place. A few google searches could save you from clicking “add to cart” one too many times.
Knowing the ‘cost’ of what’s on the other side of your computer when it comes to the supply, production and distribution chain of the goods and services you’re paying for is really important. What this means is analyzing whether your purchase is justifiable in terms of ethicality, and price vs product. For example, buying a pair of $300 yeezys that actually cost less than 1/3 of that to make and even less to pay the people making them.
The sea of online advertisements that we are confronted with every day also have a major impact on how we consume. Those things called “cookies” track our interests on every website and can end up learning our shopping patterns as well. With that, specific ads can be shown on your computer while you’re browsing – drawing you in. Being a smart shopper doesn’t need to be difficult, especially with all of the facilities provided on the internet to help us do so. Taking care of what we already have as to not be wasteful and choosing to make more ethical decisions in the future is a massive step.
Morgan, Andrew, Michael Ross, Lucy Siegle, Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, Vandana Shiva, and Duncan Blickenstaff. The True Cost. , 2015.