It seems ridiculous to ask how can fashion stop climate change. There are so many factors at play. Fashion is seemed as frivolous. Don’t you know that it’s big oil that is at the fault here? Well not exactly. This article talks about how big the fashion industry actually is, and what it can do to play a key role in solving climate change.
Can Fashion Stop Climate Change?
The short answer is no. At least not alone. If you took a pizza and divided it up into the industries responsible for climate change, it wouldn’t even be a shoestring width, let alone a meal.
When I graduated with my degree in sustainability, a lot of people were disappointed that I didn’t go right away to grad school or start working for some government organization to help stop climate change. I might be a climate scientist, but the work didn’t make me happy. I realized that there were other ways that we can advocate change for sustainable practices. Fashion is a majorly underserved sustainability niche. It makes me happy, and if somehow we can make a change in this industry, we are likely to be a part of a much larger movement.
I realized that there were other ways that we can advocate change for sustainable practices. Fashion is a majorly underserved sustainability niche. It makes me happy, and if somehow we can make a change in this industry, we are likely to be a part of a much larger movement. Will fashion stop climate change? Not alone, but here are 3 reasons why it will definitely help:
1. Fashion is a Change Maker for Other Industries
Old men in their stuffy suits are usually quick to scoff at the fashion industry for asserting that they can produce change for larger social issues. Through Alexa Chung’s British Vogue series on the future of fashion, she meets with many change makers within the industry. During this one set, she meets with social change makers within the fashion industry. Sure, they focus more on the topic of feminism, but we can understand that fashion as a whole can influence change in many other industries.
Through this understanding about how fashion influences our culture, it is not difficult to see how eco-fashion and other sustainable trends are going to influence the industry in the next 5-30 years. People who believe otherwise will simply be on the wrong end of history.
2. We are Always Going to Need Clothing
Simply put, we are always going to need clothing. Unless of course we all collectively embrace nudity or ascend to a higher plane of existence. But for now, and at least the next 100 years, we can see that clothing is a necessity. Fashion dictates clothing. It helps us express our emotions and compensate for our first impressions.
With the influencing power of the larger economy at stake, fashion is going to be a forerunner in the sustainability movement. The two biggest issues that the industry faces is in ethical labor and using ecologically friendly materials without being too expensive. Yes, it is possible to change. It will change. It just requires a little bit of collective effort. We will get there.
3. Fashion has Influenced over our Spending Habits
We are not going to buy our way out of climate change. However, there are other factors at play to determine the market other than our spending habits. Executives, Investors, and the people with the money and power use our spending habits as a gauge on what people want. Sure, buying an organic cotton tee shirt for $5 more won’t make you change the world… And yet.
The more that we change our spending habits, the more that our actions will be amplified through these trends. Businesses base decisions off business trends. The total US organic sales and growth over the past ten years has doubled by over 20 billion dollars. That’s huge. We can’t dismiss that this trend due at least in part by the sustainable movement, and in turn the fashion industry. Influence is not easily measured, but spending habits are more influencing than what we might like to believe on the surface.
4. Celebrity Endorsement Overlaps with Activism
One day, decades ago Al Gore took the stage to talk about an Inconvenient Truth. It started a chain reaction of celebrity activism to help stop climate change. Ever since we have been inundated with messages from celebrities (on both sides of the political divide) to help stop climate change. The fashion industry is no different.
Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, advocate greener living through conscious spending. Right now, there might be resentment towards “green” products from people who don’t believe in climate change. Yet if they hear about the functionality of a product, or have a celebrity endorsement, they’re on board. Appeal to guilt doesn’t always work for climate change. If we are somehow reducing our impact, even if we don’t know about it, it’s a win-win.
So the big question: Can Fashion Stop Climate Change? Maybe, but not in a way you expect.