Humans lived the hunter-gather lifestyle for many years. Eventually with the control of agriculture, we became sedentary farmers. Then, with the industrial revolution, we learned to use advanced machines to aid or replace our labour. The result was a great quantity of textiles. Textiles became clothing. Clothing got produced at a very cost-effective rate. And once people were paid enough wages, they purchased this clothing to complement their lifestyle.
And just imagine the complements we bestow upon each other as we acknowledge additions to our wardrobe. We hear phrases like, “Wow, that looks great on you.” But to what cost? Let’s compare. There’s an estimated 22 million tons of cotton grown globally and sold each year. Yet at the same time in the United States alone over 13 million tons of clothing are thrown away each year. Seems with this that our clothing is part of our throw-away culture. Perhaps it’s the complement that’s desired over the clothing.
Now imagine the energy costs to make the clothing. To grow cotton, to make cloth, to cut into clothing and to sell at a distributor. And enabling all these steps is the essential but energy hungry transportation sector. How long can the Earth support a throw-away culture? What happens if the cotton harvest fails or the transportation sector loses fuel? Could we think of something more important than the next complement?