Tanja Wessels

A Fashionable Divorce

A Fashionable Divorce

Tanja Wessels

Discover how Tanja Wessels instigated her divorce from the addictive habit of shopping. Here she writes for LoopUnite! on the impact the fashion industry has on the environment, and her passion for generating a movement across Asia to put all things green and mindful on the radar.

“Fashion’s impact on the environment is coming under increasing scrutiny. Our love for high turnover and low prices is bound to come at a price, but we are only starting to understand how high it actually is. It’s funny how mind shifts creep up on us, yet once aware of them we are left feeling as though someone has changed the wallpaper in our brains.

‘How did I not see that before?’ we ponder, scratching our newly decorated craniums.

I’ve never been a 10k-instagram-fashion-blogger-leaning-against-a-hip-neighbourhood-wall-in-something-I’ve-just rolled-out-of bed-in, watching the LIKES roll in like a Macau slot machine. But fashion is a wonderful tool for self-expression, and I am no stranger to her seductive pull.

Less charmed by the industry, and pace at which it is running, is Mother Earth. She won’t be hashtagging trends anytime soon, unless we rethink our relationship with fast fashion.

The New York Times ran a quiet little piece on Friday 21st of July leaving me dumbfounded, while the numbers loudly raced around my Elle Décor’d mind. Author Tatiana Schlossberg wrote that from the 1950s to today, 8.3 metric tons of plastic have been produced, about half of it since 2004. The article looks at a new study in science advances offering the first analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever manufactured. This is the part where you should take a seat.

According to previous studies, scientists estimate that five million to 13 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. Contamination in rivers and streams, as well as on land, the new data shows, is on the rise and most of that is from clothing, in the form of microscopic pieces of synthetic fibres. Clothing – that fun, innocent item we all love (and need – to avoid prison for public nudity) is choking our planet more than we ever could have imagined.

This noir news piece did let permit me one ray of light – last May I vowed not to buy a single item of new clothing for a year, and with the latest data in hand, I feel more dedicated than ever.

Inspired by local environmental NGO, Redress, I undertook this personal experiment to “Become a Citizen, not a Consumer” in the words of founder, Dr Christina Dean and to see if I could get off that buy/wear/don’t-wear-but-buy-anyway hamster wheel.

It took a while to break the habit of popping into Zara for a “little something” in between weekly errand running. But break it I did. I now go in for the aircon on particularly hot days and look at rows and rows of textiles that will end up God knows where. I feel like a reformed smoker gazing at cartons of cigarettes in the airport Duty Free section.

The upsides to ditching fast fashion are plentiful. I am very creative with what I have, grateful for sisterly hand-me-downs, bold with second-hand shop purchases and swap like a demon. And besties with my tailor.

Green Ladies has been a delightful find and when I get complimented on anything I’m wearing, the words “it’s second hand!” rush out my mouth faster than political Tweets from the US.

This is a movement I am deeply proud to be part of, and one I can see lasting well beyond this season. The year-long separation from fast fashion looks to turn into a full-fledged divorce. I’m learning too much to turn a blind eye, no matter how fetching the latest style is.”

Tanja Wessels is creating a regional platform ‘All In–Asia’, connecting environmentalists, sharing resources, generating a movement across Asia, and putting all things green and mindful on the radar. You can follow her progress on Instagram @allinasia


Tanja Wessels is a bi-lingual translator and feature writer for  Macau Closer magazine. She has interviewed many famous names from around the World, including David Beckham, Laurie Anderson, LMFAO and Tom Dixon. Tanja also covers major events, including Burning Man Festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, and is author of a monthly music column focusing on hand-picked emerging and independent artists in the world of music.