This article, written by Stan Cox for AlterNet is an eye-opening about the extent of the American obsession with clothes and the toll its taking on people as well as the environment. It may prove a little too depressing for some. Here is an excerpt:
Apparel is easily the second-biggest consumer sector after food. We’re spending $282 billion on new clothes annually, up from $162 billion in 1992, based on U.S. Census figures. The government says apparel prices in the United States dropped by about 25 percent from 1992 to 2002, and we responded like the good consumers we are, increasing our buying by 75 percent. The population increased only 13 percent in that decade, so the average annual shopping haul, which stood at about 50 new articles of clothing per person per year in 1992, had grown to 75 or more items per person by 2002. It has only gone up since then.
And to clear out closet space for the new purchases, the average American discards 68 pounds of clothing and other textiles each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
With clothing, good marketing can easily undermine education and exhortation. One university study found that people who have good knowledge of apparel’s environmental costs are not any more likely to practice “environmentally responsible consumption” than those who are unaware of the problem. Even clothes boasting a “Made in USA” label don’t seem able to overcome their price disadvantage. Recent surveys projected that advertisements highlighting the domestic origin of nonimported clothing would not have much influence on shoppers. Read Dress for Excess: The Cost of Our Clothing Addiction…
The only way to bring change, Cox suggests, is to slash consumption where it’s now the highest: the United States. But can we break the addiction?