Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sustainable Blogging?

Have you ever walked out of a class with a holy-crap-my-whole-world-view-and-perspective-just-changed feeling? Because I just did.

Last semester, I decided that I wanted to go into marketing and marketing research after graduation next year. In order to pursue that goal, I decided to take a class on consumer behavior this semester. Throughout the past three months, sitting in lecture has only reaffirmed that this is the area I am interested in and want to pursue, but today it rocked my world. 

Our professor has us read articles before each day and today's got the ball rolling for me. (Read it here!) The article gives the background of what really goes into producing products for the fashion industry and how much your $8 shirt from Forever 21 really costs in terms of labor and our environment. I can hear the groans. Yet another privileged millennial blaming the previous generations for killing our environment without any real intentions of fixing it. And maybe that's true. 

But get this, I don't really give much concern to the environment, as horrible as that is. I'm a Southerner born and raised, who has identified as conservative for as long as I can remember. I don't take the stance that the EPA is horrible, but the safety and longevity of our planet isn't something that crosses my mind on a regular basis, does it cross yours? If so, kudos to you. I'm not saying that one class has made me change all my political beliefs (not going to get into that one), but it has got my wheels turning. 

The biggest thing that kept coming into my head while my professor lectured was "what would sustainability look like for blogging?" As a blog-lover and attempting blogger myself, I read at least twenty blog posts every single day. You know what they all center on? Consumption. Bloggers make money by getting others to consume and by consuming themselves. Companies send out products to digital influencers with the hopes that they'll share them with their following and all of us who look to these influencers for what's "on trend" will buy those products too. 

This isn't a new concept at all. How long have celebrities appeared in ads so consumers would associate the product with their favorite celebrity and buy it? But this marketing strategy is continuing this notion that materialism makes you happy and you need the newest, coolest, trendiest thing in order to fit in with society. Now there is nothing wrong with trends and the cycle of what is popular in fashion, but what would it look like if we only encouraged NECESSARY consumption? What would blogging look like?

Would we see fewer bloggers? Or would we see bloggers encourage re-wearing and re-styling items? Of course we don't see bloggers' real lives through the internet, they may wear the same piece a hundred times. But what does that matter if they're not telling those they influence that they do wear an item until it's completely worn out or until it's out grown, then pass it on? What gets portrayed is constant frivolous consumption and it encourages other to do the same. 

The articles I liked at the top suggested investing in pieces and then wearing them until they're completely worn out. That doesn't always seem realistic, speaking as a poor college student who can't afford to drop $100 on jeans, but I think it could be possible. And I would really like to see it happen. Yes seeing all of the pretty, new, trendy fashions on beautiful bloggers is fun, but I think it also drives this perception that you need to have those things and always be getting more new things, especially if you're someone who wants to be a blogger. I would love to see blogs about minimalistic buying and capsule closets and how to creatively style pieces you already have. I think it could make a huge difference. If bloggers change how they encourage consumption, maybe it would change how companies approach producing and marketing their products, and in turn encourage them to produce in a more sustainable way. 

These are just my long, post-paradigm-shifting-class thoughts, but I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you think? Could blogging as an industry become more sustainable?

1 comment :

  1. Ashley - great, thought-provoking blog post. I think it is fantastic that you were able to apply our class on sustainability to blogging. You bring up some really interesting questions: What would blogging look like if it only encouraged necessary consumption? Would we see fewer bloggers? Or would we see bloggers encourage re-wearing and re-styling items? I do not know the answers, but I hope to see them in play one day. You also make a good point about backgrounds and politics. No matter where we are from and what we believe, we can all choose to care about the environment.