As the threat of global warming rises, so does the passion to build a more sustainable future for ourselves and for generations to come. From the veteran eco-warriors to the loud-and-proud activists to the newly initiated striving for sustainability, a growing number of conscious consumers want to drive real change both on and offline. This has rightfully become a huge topic of conversation in fashion but we're so bombarded with statistics and new information that many are left frozen in a state of inaction.
Often, when engaging with sustainable fashion, we first acknowledge what our clothes are made from in order to reduce unrecyclable landfill. Yet while materials are important, the wider sustainable fashion dialogue spans a plethora of issues, from the chemicals that go into our clothes and their effects on the environment to who made our clothes and how they are treated throughout the supply chain. Often with sustainable fashion, once you research one area, it can become a paralysing rabbit hole of information. "I always liken it to that lateral thinking puzzle where you're trying to get a chicken, a fox and a bag of grain across the river in one boat – for every great-sounding solution, someone will pop up and point out a catch, a drawback or some problematic issue you hadn't thought of," says Lauren Bravo, author of How To Break Up With Fast Fashion. "Include the various types of privilege that we're dealing with – size, budget, time, access – and it can feel like an uphill struggle."
Still, there's proof that individual action can lead to real change. When brands reacted to COVID-19-related store closures and decreased sales by cancelling future collections and refusing to pay for orders that had been placed prior to the pandemic, Ayesha Barenblat launched the #PayUp campaign, calling on the accumulative power of individuals to sign petitions and spread awareness. "Since launching the #PayUp petition on March 30th, we’ve garnered 243k signatures and 19 brands have now agreed to pay for back orders," she tells me. "Furthermore, the #PayUp campaign has unlocked an estimated $1 billion for suppliers in Bangladesh and $22 billion globally." This campaign is the perfect example of the power of online communities and proof that a collection of individuals can drive real change and accountability on a global scale.
From the humanitarian crises we see within the fashion supply chain to the environmental effects of fast fashion brands producing clothes at dangerously high speeds, the rolling coverage of the climate crisis can be exhausting. None of the damning information we receive is paired with a how-to guide, so what starts as a drive for change can often turn into eco-anxiety. Yet it's vital we stay engaged. Click through for some insights into how you can turn your passion for sustainable fashion into a drive for long-lasting change, both on and offline.