I have heard it many times, and earlier this week I heard it once again – this time from one of my friends; “I want to do something actively to protect the environment, but with 7 billion people on the planet, whether I do something or not doesn’t matter. My actions are a drop in the ocean, so why bother?”. (Said friend does actually bother)
With all the things that need to change in the fashion industry before it becomes even remotely sustainable, it is easy to feel resigned.
However, giving up is also too easy. As long as we can see a way out of the mess, we and previous generations have created, then we owe it to ourselves and future generations to keep making positive changes, big or small.
Whether one is voting in general elections or ‘voting with your debit card’ when shopping food, fashion etc, YOUR vote does matter.
In order to move towards a more sustainable future, we need both politicians and businesses to head in the right direction; and consumer opinion and demand is ultimately what drives them.
At one point, I thought that we, the fashion brands, might be able to clean up the fashion industry ourselves. And I am seeing quite a few brands taking steps to becoming more sustainable, but without pressure from the vast majority of consumers, it is going to take a lot longer than expected.
At another point I thought that Parliament would introduce regulations that would quickly change the fashion industry landscape, speeding up the process of ensuring that all clothing is produced ethically and with the lowest possible carbon footprint. When the UK parliament voted down the recommended regulations in the Fixing Fashion report in 2018, without taking a single suggestion on board, I realised that without pressure from voters, getting regulations in the industry was also going to take a lot longer than expected.
Yes, you and I may not single-handedly change the world overnight, but as voters and consumers, we do have the power to influence people or businesses who can drive real change. And in my opinion, we don’t need to glue ourselves to a train to get heard. Everyone, rebellious or not, can and will get heard through their votes and choices.
So, rest assured that whenever you buy organic cotton over conventional cotton, Tencel over viscose, recycled wool over acrylic etc, you ARE making a difference. Ultimately your choices feed through to the people who have the power to really move things on fast.
Personally, I am imagining a world where the most polluting fibres are banned entirely (bye viscose and acrylic), where all garments are produced ethically (hello fair wages and bye subcontracting) and where Black Friday is a thing in the past – and I am going to keep fighting for these areas (and others) through VILDNIS and through the choices I make.
We cannot expect governments or businesses to sort the climate change crisis for us. We have to take matters into our own hands. We have to bother. Your actions truly matter.