The disposable Conscious Collection

Hennes & Mauritz is now proudly advertising their new collection – the Conscious
Collection. The prices are the same as usual in their clothing, but the materials are bit different. Instead of using polyester, the clothes are now made of recycled polyester, and the few cotton pieces that the collection offers, are made of a mix of traditional and organic cotton. Well done H&M! Now we all have the chance to buy cheap, but ecological clothing. But is this then a sustainable solution? I mean, we all know that clothes made of fabric that has a jungle pattern with parrots won’t last for long and it will be out of fashion very soon. In addition, there is no mention in the Conscious Collection advertisements that these particular clothes would be more sustainable than their other “not so conscious” clothes. To cite their own words : “The collection is part of the H&M’s work for better and more sustainable fashion future“. However, how does these words make the Conscious Collection somehow different and better?

At the same time, Helsingin Sanomat writes about the rising amounts of textile waste in the cities. For example in Tampere, 16% percent of the landfill waste is now textiles when it used to be only around 4% percent. The researchers who have been studying this new phenomena are guessing, that this might be the result of the growing disposable culture. Indeed. I think they are quite right with that. My own observations support this notion. I have visited in flea markets the past 15 years. In the 90’s there was no chance that you could have ever found new clothing from those places. All that was for sale, was clothing from the 70’s and 80’s and most of this stuff was worn and completely spent. However, now the situation is totally different. The flea markets have started offering clothing that are used only few times and some clothing even have the price tag attached. In addition, most of these clothes are made by cheap labels, such as H&M, which obviously are not even trying to make us to become attached with the clothing we buy. For them “buy, use once, and dispose” is a solution that fits perfectly fine.

I believe that most of us are aware that the rapidly changing fashion trends are not only harmful for our own wallet, but for the environment as well. And yet, instead of buying good quality clothing rarely, we easily find ourselves buying cheap and not-so-sustainable clothes (because they are so cute and cheap!), even though we know that these clothes will not last long and most probably we will even get bored of them easily. Clothing lines, such as H&M’s Conscious Collection, might make us feel that buying them would be less harmful, but after all, at the same time they just continue feeding our need to consume and buy new things, even if we don’t really need them. In addition, when the situation feels bit hopeless, we easily start praising even the smallest actions, such as using recycled polyester in the H&M clothing, even if it does not really mean anything in terms of sustainability. Paying attention to the textile materials might be a good start for H&M, but in the very end, when it comes to conscious consumers, I doubt that the Conscious Collection is something that these people are looking for.

Article about textile waste in Helsingin Sanomat:

http://www.hs.fi/kotimaa/Tekstiilij%C3%A4tteen+m%C3%A4%C3%A4r
%C3%A4+paisuu+kasvukeskuksissa/a1364779094992

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