8 - 14 November, 2021
This weekly wrap has a focus on the issue of over-consumption. This is a topic I have written about many times before, and surely (but sadly) will need to focus on again in the future.
But I think this topic is particularly timely, and something we should be keeping in mind now that Halloween is over, and Christmas is making its mark in stores and our inboxes. I know that those Christmas marketing emails have already started popping up in my inbox, and the Black Friday sales alerts won't be too far behind!
Take a watch
Seeing these images reminded me of Accra in Ghana (check out my Weekly Wrap 4 for more on this). But this is Atacama, Chile, and this region has become another victim of our over-consumption. Literally a dumping ground!
Sadly, this is also one of those reports that will leave you feeling like there is no stopping, or solution to, our over-consuming ways. But education is key, so I do strongly recommend giving this a watch.
Take a read
It is estimated that 39,000 tonnes of clothing and textiles is destined to end up as rubbish in Chile's Atacama Desert each year. The environmental cost of this is disastrous. These clothes, which are usually fast fashion castoffs, take a long time to biodegrade. In the process, they also pollute the environment and water supplies, create a fire hazard, and endanger the people living nearby.
While the Al Jazeera article Chile’s desert dumping ground for fast fashion leftovers paints a pretty grim picture, it does offer a glimmer of hope. The article goes on to identify some of the ways people are questioning and caring about the issue of waste in the region. Some of this clothing and textile waste is being sourced and used by locals, while other portions are being repurposed and reused by sustainable businesses such as Ecofibra, who produce insulated panelling, and Ecocitex, who create yarn from pieces of discarded textiles.
The previous clip and article lead quite nicely (or rather not so nicely) into this next piece from Ecocult, which focuses on What if we just make less stuff?
It may seem obvious, logical even, to just consume less, but can it be that straightforward?
This article really unpacks the issue of over-production and over-consumption. I have included the key takeaways below.
Why does fashion overproduce?
We are functioning under a capitalist-growth driven economy. According to Susan Paulson, professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida and co-author of “The Case for Degrowth", “The driver is people with capital that are trying to make their capital grow by exploiting whatever opportunities come along” .
Technology has made production cheaper, while simultaneously increasing the speed and ease at which we can access products and services. Therefore, in order to be profitable and remain competitive, brands need to produce and sell an exorbitant amount of items.
Then you add free delivery and returns into the mix. This only encourages us to buy without thinking (e.g. buying multiple sizes), because it's easy to simply send things back. I recommend taking a look at Weekly Wrap 12 to find out what happens to our returns - it might not be what you think!
Fashion isn’t honing in on “people’s joy, but focusing on people’s fears, insecurities, doubts and self-hate,... They make you feel out of date, dowdy, fat, ugly, not with the cool kids and feeling bad about yourself and that drives you to search on the web or go out and try new clothes. You’re perpetually insecure and feeling bad, that’s basically what makes you a good consumer.” - Susan Paulson
What is de-growth? De-growth is an economic model focused on lowering consumption and production. While there is no ideal solution to replacing the current model of consumption, the growth of renting, mending, making, fashion detox challenges, buying secondhand, swapping, etc., are going a long way in improving our relationship with our clothing.
Who is already pursuing a de-growth model? Bhutan, north of Bangladesh, have implemented Gross National Happiness (GNH), an alternative to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is not a measure of happiness and prosperity within a society, as it ignores how wealth is created or distributed. Therefore, under GNH, Bhutan takes a more holistic approach to sustainable development, valuing more than just how much stuff its citizens consume, measuring non-economic aspects of wellbeing.
The Business of Fashion article Fashion Steps Up Climate Commitments introduces the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action updated ambitions. The charter has laid out new goals for it's 130 signatories (which now includes LVMH), which better align with their overarching mission to get the fashion industry to net-zero Greenhouse Gas emissions before 2050, in line with capping global warming at no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The fashion industry is responsible for significant carbon emissions, deforestation, water consumption and pollution. It's time the industry took responsibility and changed its behaviours.
The Vogue Business OP-ED: Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu on why COP26 should be the moment that changes the fashion industry forever highlights the urgent need for action on the issue of climate change, while identifying ways the industry should be addressing it. Some of the key points raised include:
The classic fashion model of make, take and dispose cannot continue. Not only does sustainability need to be at the core of everything the industry does, but it needs to stop being seen as a constraint on creativity - it’s not!
Brands needs to do more than just offer one-off collections or ranges. Sustainability efforts need to incorporate the entire supply chain.
Collaboration is key. We should all be working towards common goals that prioritise the wellbeing of society and the environment. Therefore, mentoring and information sharing about resources, methodologies, and insights needs to be embraced.
Solutions needs to be concrete (science-based), quantitative and transparent.
Please GET IN TOUCH or leave me a comment. I would love to know what you have been reading, watching, or listening to this week.
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