Voting with your Money

By: Alysha Lai


When talking about the subject of fast fashion, it is well agreed that this is a major environmental problem which needs to be rectified. One of the main ways to make an impact is through the use of our consumer power. As consumers, we can vote with our money: changing trends and eradicating fast fashion. We have to make sure that we know what the environmental consequences of our actions are when we buy from different brands, and to keep them in mind when shopping. We vote with our money. 

But it’s easier said than done. Some people might give hate, saying that I’m being hypocritical. For the longest time in primary school, Zara was my favorite store; my wardrobe would be full of their colourful dresses and trendy styles. The truth is: I didn’t know. I didn’t know the true cost of buying that sunset print crimped dress or those floral pants. I didn’t know that thousands of employees were being exploited and paid minimum wage to work in inhumane factories with dangerous conditions. That is why raising awareness plays a big role in changing fast fashion culture. Even today, I still believe that Zara still has some of the most easily accessible and amazing designs that I have seen, and for such a low price. If they changed their production methods and mission, I would definitely buy their clothes again.  

Voting with consumer choice requires restraint and self-control. To be able to stop the urge to buy from sales. To be able to go to thrift stores instead of first-hand clothing stores. To be willing to pay more for something you know that has been produced with true love. To be able to see and admit that your favourite brand or store may not be the best for the environment. Personally, I have tried my hardest to steer clear of these tempting situations. I look at Zara and admire their designs, but only take inspiration from them. I am proud to say that I haven’t bought anything from them in over a year. I haven’t felt the need for self-control in a while; it feels like second nature to appreciate but not purchase. Today however, I felt something that I hadn't felt in a long time: temptation.

This might not be a relatable topic, but I saw the most gorgeous pair of shoes as I was surfing online. They fit my style perfectly, from their colour to their vintage shape. The heels were the perfect height for me and I could easily picture them on my feet. They were affordable, beautiful, and seemingly perfect. But the main problem was that they were from Zara. I had just come across their new ‘blue collection’, which was all about using quality materials and processes to make their garments and accessories. As I continued scrolling it got worse, new shoes kept popping up, tempting me to fall down the never ending hole of consumerism. All the shoes had a signature blue sole and gold emblem, how adorable! I kept hearing a faint voice trying to convince me that because they were made from ‘quality’ materials and underwent ‘quality’ processes, they were much better than the other products they sold. But I remembered self control, and tried my best to steer my thoughts away from these shoes.

In the end, I did not buy them; I just admired their beauty through my computer screen. After this experience, I felt the immediate need to write this post. Learn from my experience and don’t succumb to the enticing temptation out there.


“I can’t encourage these companies to continue harming our world.”

Author’s note: We think green consumerism can be explained in a way that is easy to understand without placing blame. This was a personal story from our Project Eden Youth company, about personal growth and realisation. This post doesn't intend to propose any solutions and serves as a story to share. A story about self-control, because not buying anything at all is better than buying "a sustainable alternative". We completely agree with you that voting with your money is something we hear people say a lot, and to some extent it has power, but it is difficult and impractical to think it's a full-time solution. We want to raise awareness and support for shopping responsibly as possible, and supporting businesses that you believe in and understand there is a serious limitation to the idea that we can buy our way to fully sustainability by only making good consumer choices.

As long as you are using your money and buying anything, you are still supporting consumerism. Instead, we should try our best to reduce it altogether. This goal of this post was to show self-awareness and educate others so that we can collectively realise that this is a systematic problem, and fight wasteful consumerism together in a way that will benefit everyone. The idea behind voting with your dollars is to put your money where your values lie. But in reality, you have very little choice. Most of us are going to be consumers anyway, so it’s important for us to be critical consumers. Raising awareness is a starting point.