HOW FAIR ARE YOU?
Sometimes people and places can really inspire us. As an Italian on the Erasmus programme, this is my second week in Brighton and I have learnt so much! Particularly when I met the very personable Siobhan Wilson, owner of the Fair Shop, in Queens Road, Brighton and I interviewed her on a busy afternoon in between customers. To understand Siobhan and the ideology behind her store it is important to understand the “Fair Lifestyle’.
Siobhan opened her shop with other 3 partners in 2008 as a pop-up store that never closed! With a background in humanity and development, Siobhan had become to be interested in fair trade since working for an NGO in India with some friends. Fascinated by African culture and living within Indian culture, she had the opportunity to meet a lot of talented artisans and makers so become a ‘talent scout’- for the shop in Brighton that then generated income for all the ethical supply chain.
Her young family life had made her sensitive to a fairer lifestyle: with her parents she used to talk about workers rights and decent wages and her mother was the one who taught her to respect material goods and also food; and not waste.
Siobhan’s vision is a simple recipe for the future: buy less, with care, and spend more. Buying more at a cheap price means we buy larger quantities, spend more, and end up wearing bad quality clothes. However, if we buy less, investing our money in something that lasts and is good for the economy we will consequently take care of those clothes or accessories and respect them more. Also we will stop over-consumption, avoid child labour and slave wages. Seems like a good idea, doesn’t it?
Then I asked Siobhan about the ethical clothing offer for younger people: is fair fashion, fashionable? I have some doubts but she is very sure: “If I were younger, there is now an amazing offer of ethical and sustainable clothing.”
Siobhan is passionate about what she does- the thought of Primark makes her cry, she said smiling, at the end they spend a lot! After that she proudly show me the clothing in her shop: as usual when you buy good quality, you spend more and in her shop there are many different price points. I was interested in a jeans brand made with organic cotton that she introduced to me telling that their aim is to have a fair price, but when I asked her about the provenance of elastane she was not so sure, but of course elastane gives comfort and stretch and makes them more durable- and will extend the life of the garment which is the biggest environmental impact there is.
Siobhan had so many stories to tell- and surely the most beautiful thing to hear about fair trade the stories behind the brands. One example are the scarves made by homeworkers in India; women confined to their houses by their religion, so that making the scarves prevents prostitution. She said that never knows when they will send the product, she just has to be patient. It’s REAL SLOW FASHION!
I could stay for hours to listen to the stories behind the brands at The Fair Shop. Since the beginning she has stocked People Tree which she shows with enthusiasm because of the detail in the garments, and then shows the coconut buttons , natural dying, New Zealand wool, and talks about working with women from Malawi. Then there is the African handmade paper jewelry and the complexity of when you work with people who live in total poverty- pushed to live in legal houses and about how she saw to wipe out the houses of many people, when a leather bag caught my attention. Why a leather bag in this shop? Fair doesn’t mean ethic and by the way, ethic means a lot of things. This bag has made with a eco tanning system and the animal is not used just for accessories, but for meat also. Within fair trade animals are considered a resource, I had to learn this and in the end it is up to us what we wish to purchase.
We are the consumers, we choose, and be the gatekeeper in our search for good products. Siobhan’s customers don’t have any specific requests- they ask for what they see in the window but when they’re inside ask for more information, the provenance, the intention, the meaning behind the product. With a small shop Siobhan wants play her role a bigger role in global fair trade, shows us how we can be a part of the ethical consumerism movement.
This Black Friday Siobhan is one of the key protagonists of an initiative in Brighton called Bright Friday and The Fashion Paradigm Shift, a non consumerism event where she will show Brighton brands that are part of that ethical consumerism including RubyMoon.
My last question for Siobhan was ‘What is your next step working with small, ethical brands?” She is planning an event as part of the Artists Open Houses Festival in May, a collaborative project called The Brighton Beach Collective to promote local ethical brands that will promote sunglasses, beachwear flip-flops, swimwear, and other items- because COLLABORATION is the key for small brands.
I also think so.
Look out for my next post!
The True Cost of Fur
Winter is on its way which means the high street is filling up with fur trimmed coats, bobble hats and other items with supposedly faux fur additions. Unfortunately, a lot of these items are coming from factories in China and other countries where there are less regulations regarding animal welfare and the use of fur products. This has led to an influx of real fur items being labelled and sold as faux fur. Shops that have been selling real fur mislabelled as faux fur include Missguided, Debenhams, Forever 21 and House of Fraser. There are also a lot of stores that are happily selling real fur. Canada Goose for example, use coyote fur and goose down in their jackets.
The fur farms where animals are brought up are very cheaply run. The cages are tiny, filthy and often not sheltered from the harsh weather conditions. This devastatingly leads to the animals becoming incredibly unwell, mentally and physically. In mink farms for example, around 20% of the herd will die from an incurable infection called Aleutian disease. With no access to any veterinary care the infected mink are simply left to suffer until they die. If they don’t catch the infection they often resort to cannibalism, self-mutilation, and reach incredibly high stress levels. Farmed Foxes often develop psychotic behaviour from being trapped in the tiny cages their entire lives. They throw themselves against the wall of the cage out of desperation and mental fatigue. Once it’s time to use the animals fur they will be skinned alive and left to die a horrific and painful death.
Wild animals are also hunted for their fur. This is only marginally less cruel than the fur farms. The traps used include leg traps which hold the animal for hours to days at a time until the hunter returns to then club the poor animal to death or slowly suffocate it to not damage its pelt. Its incredibly cruel and stressful for the animal. The animal will often resort to biting at the trap to escape. They do it with such panicked strength that they often break all their teeth. If they don’t bite at the trap, they’ll bite at their own limb to amputate it, so they can escape. Again, this is a horrendous position for a poor innocent animal to be put in.
There are ways of spotting real fur on an item of clothing. Ignore the colour as real fur and fake fur can be dyed to look any way they want. Look at the tips of the hairs, if they taper to a fine point like a sewing needle then it’s probably real fur. If you still can’t tell then if you very carefully burn a small part of it and it gives off a chemical smell then its faux fur. If it gives of a smell like human hair, then its real fur. So, next time you’re out shopping and see a cute winter jacket with a faux fur trim, look a little closer at that fur and make sure you know what you’re buying.
Look Great in the Snow and Save the Planet? Welcome to Picture!
Are you thinking off going to the alps any time soon? Then you’re going to need some snazzy winter wear. Picture is a fun and colourful skiwear brand based in France. They make well designed and eco conscious winter wear. And they’re beautifully designed, so not only will you be safe in the knowledge that your helping the planet but you’ll stand out on the slopes too. It was founded by three best friends: Jeremy, Julian and Vincent in 2008 because they wanted to create winter clothes that have a positive impact on the planet, hence why they are called Picture; they look at the bigger picture.
One of the biggest problems with sustainability in the fashion industry is when the clothes are being produced there can be a lot of waste often from off cuts of fabric being thrown away. Off cuts usually get burnt which adds carbon from smoke into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. There are many toxic chemicals used in the production of garments and these chemicals are harmful to humans, animals and the environment. The problem however is that many loosely regulated factories don’t properly treat their chemical waste, allowing it to find its way into waterways and ground water sources. But this is one of the fabulous things about Picture, they avoid the badly regulated factories. One of the factories they use sources cotton from organic farms, this means they don’t use harmful pesticides or synthetic fertilisers. By doing this it maintains and increases soil fertility and soil lifespan, and protects and encourages wildlife to survive. They use alternative chemicals in the dyeing and washing process which are less harmful but equally affective. 95% of the cotton they use is organic certified and 100% of the main fabrics are produced to the highest non-toxicity level available. They strive to use recycled fibres in as much of the garment as possible. Picture’s iconic Welcome Jacket is made from 100% recycled materials.
Another way to reduce environmental impact is with innovative design. By working with the manufacturers they have managed to find a way to use the production off cuts in the lining of their jackets. This helps reduce the amount of waste being burnt or thrown in a landfill and reduce the amount of new materials needing to be made for each garment, thus decreasing the carbon footprint. This also gives the inside of the jackets a really fun and unique look. Picture make sure their garments are easily recyclable. By using 100% cotton or polyester in the garment it means at the end of the garments lifespan, the garment can be handed in to be recycled and turned into new garments. Another way Picture has allowed their products to have a new life is through clever design. An item I really like is there Rethink bag. Its designed in such a fantastic and innovative way that means once the person who bought it is tired of the bag or has replaced it, they can cut the bag apart along certain lines, turning it into new items. The bag can be turned into a laptop case, pencil cases and toiletry bags.
Picture have a really fantastic recycling program that encourages consumers to increase the lifespan of their products. They have Picture recycling bins in their stores which are handmade from recycled materials. Consumers can donate old, worn out Picture garments as well as textiles from other brands and Picture will then sort through the garments. Anything that is in a good condition, they will give to charity. Garments that are un-wearable but are made from one material – such as cotton or polyester – will be recycled down to the fibres and turned into new garments. Anything that’s left, for example unwearable garments that are made from a mix of fibres, will be repurposed into something else. Gloves can be turned into phone cases. Jackets can be turned into multiple pencil cases. They even recycle the old advertising canvases by turning them into promotional bags. This is really good because these efforts will make a positive impact on the world and if more brands choose to think like this then the fashion industry could begin to reduce its carbon impact and make a positive change.
Their website: https://www.picture-organic-clothing.com/en
2020: The year of eco-fashion?
We see a lot of companies, particularly clothing brands, claiming to have environmentally-friendly credentials as a means of attracting conscious shoppers to their stores. However, it has been proven that not all companies know exactly how environmentally friendly – or usually, unfriendly – they really are.
In 2011, Greenpeace inspected the water outputs of multiple riverside factories in China, including those producing garments, in response to it being published that 50% of China’s water had been deemed unsafe for human contact. It was believed that these factories were dumping toxic chemicals into rivers, and this meant that these chemicals were coming through into food and drinking water, affecting the health of both wildlife and humans. After collecting water samples, several toxic chemicals were found – some of which were already banned throughout Europe due to their adverse effects on sexual development and the immune system. Crucially, these chemicals were found to be persistent; they would remain in the environment. In addition to affecting humans through the food and water they consume, the chemicals were found to also be harmfully affecting marine life – washing clothing containing the toxins was leading to them being broken down and released back into bodies of water, where they were disturbing animal hormones.
Upon investigating the companies using these factories for suppliers, multiple international brands including Nike, Adidas and H&M were found – despite many of these brands promoting their care towards the environment. Greenpeace published their ‘Dirty Laundry report’ in July 2011, revealing that these companies simply didn’t know which chemicals were being used by their suppliers, meaning their environmental claims were often completely false. Until steps were taken to look into their supply chain, Greenpeace said, these brands could not really make such claims at all.
The solution to this problem came in the form of the Detox Our Future campaign, which encouraged brands to work with their suppliers to alter the ways their clothes were manufactured in order to eliminate the use of eleven different groups of toxic chemicals.
The ways that factories’ toxic chemicals can damage both humans and wildlife.
The first brand to comply was Puma, committing to erase hazardous chemicals from production by 2020. Since then, a total of 76 international brands have committed to the Detox campaign. This means that these brands will need to substitute hazardous PFCs with safer alternatives, become totally transparent in their supply chain and set out a clear plan of how they will achieve this by 2020, so that they can then claim that their production is environmentally friendly. You can see the list of companies who have committed, and how far they are complying with the criteria so far, here.
Movements like these will hopefully start to change the garment industry around for the better, saving both our natural environment and our own health! Yet still there are brands who are refusing to change the impact they are having on the environment – including GAP, Armani, Diesel and Christian Dior, so there is still a way to go. As consumers, we must proactively choose which companies we invest our money in to show brands that we do care.
Four incredible re-uses of plastic water bottles!
Each year the average UK household uses 480 plastic bottles, but only recycles 270 of them, meaning nearly half (44%) aren’t put in the recycling. If one year’s worth of the UK’s unrecycled plastic bottles were placed end to end, they would go around the world 31 times covering 780,000 miles (not even taking into account every other country!). When plastic does not get recycled, it takes hundreds of years to naturally break down, creating detrimental repercussions to our wildlife, and now the main source of ocean pollution.
There are some amazing and innovative ways in which some people are trying to tackle this however, trying to make the move into a more sustainable world for us all to live in. Here are some positive re-uses for the standard PET bottle we all come across and probably use in our day to day lives.
Plastic Bottle Village – Panama
In Panama, recycled plastic bottles are repurposed as a core building material. A two storey 100m2 home is rebuilt using 14,000 plastic bottles that are utilised as insulation. This means that there are huge time and money savings as a result. Plastic bottle homes are cooler temperatures indoors than concrete block walls and also boast a higher resistance against earthquakes due to the degree of flexibility.
The “bottle brick” technology started almost 16 years ago in India, South and Central America, providing a cost effective, environmentally friendly alternative to conventional building bricks.
Plastic Island – Richart Sowa
Richart Sowa spent seven years carefully constructing his floating eco-paradise, complete with a hot tub and even internet connection near Cancun, Mexico, that he calls Joyxee Island. It is made of 150,000 recycled bottles. The three storey house has two bedrooms, a hot tub, three shell showers, a kitchen and working internet. It is surrounded by palm trees, mangroves, fruit trees and edible herbs and plants which all grow from the sand and soil of this hand-made island. Alongside his house, he also has a ferry made from plastic bottles which can carry up to eight people to and from shore. This may be Richart’s idea of paradise but it does not come easy – there is a lot of physical labour involved in keeping it up, it is made from plastic bottles after all!
Sunlight powered ‘bulbs’ – Liter of Light
25,000 low-income homes in the Philippines have been lit up after the launch of a scheme to fit sunlight-powered ‘bulbs’ made from old plastic bottles. 40% of the country’s population live off less than $2 a day, and the rising cost of power leaves most unable to afford electricity. Therefore, it was imperative that someone found a way to sustainably source light for them. The My Shelter Foundation launched the Liter of Light project which uses plastic bottles filled with a solution of bleached water, installed into holes made in shanty towns’ corrugated iron roofs which refracts the equivalent of 55W of sunlight into the room (during the day at least). It takes only five minutes to make and costs $1 to produce. This highlights how important using appropriate green technologies for developing countries specifically is – “One man’s ‘stuff’ is another man’s gold”.
Water bottle wall – Monmoto, NYC
This restaurant in New York upcycled 17,400 litre plastic bottles into a two storey partition wall which is backlit by LED’s and a beautiful piece of interior architecture. There are so many things that can be done with a plastic bottle and this restaurant proves how beautiful they can really be.
“Who has my money helped?”: Our recent LendWithCare successes
As you may know, RubyMoon is actually a not-for-profit organisation. The money we generate from sales of our swimwear goes entirely to women entrepreneurs in developing countries as loans to help them either start or grow their businesses, as a means of helping them to help themselves. When the loans come back, we can then put them towards producing more swimwear or re-loan the money to others who need it.
We focus on women, as they are seen as the ‘change agents’ of the family –meaning they are the ones who are more likely to use the money for the good of their family. Women spend a larger proportion of their income on improving the health, nutrition and education of their families, particularly their children. Women are also usually the most vulnerable within society – most of the world’s poor are women – and to give women the empowerment that comes with a step towards financial independence is particularly important to us at RubyMoon.
To date, RubyMoon has made over 200 loans, helping 483 entrepreneurs and 1535 of their family members. We use the microfinance platform, LendWithCare, through which to make our loans.
Watch their introductory video here to learn about how they work.
We are delighted to announce that this spring/summer, we have been able to make 20 new loans! One of our most recent investments went to Care Group Twitezimbere, a savings and loans group in Rwanda whose name translates as “Let Us Move Forward”. The group of 30 individuals had requested a loan with which to buy sheep, goats and crop seeds for farming. RubyMoon frequently donates to agricultural businesses – in a lot of developing nations, farming is one of the most promising means of gaining a profit. In Africa alone, agriculture could become a trillion-dollar industry by 2030, so long as access to electricity, new technologies and suitable land can be obtained. As such, this group were one of many that we thought could really benefit from a small loan. Each of the group members has an average of five children – and they want the money to improve the lives of their children rather than themselves. The money raised from their farm is going to be used to pay for the children’s school fees, as well as health insurance for the whole family, so that the next generation can lead more enriched lives.
Your sales of our RubyMoon swimwear have not only allowed us to change the lives of this group and their families, but also 19 other business groups just like them! Thanks to you, businesswomen across the globe are becoming empowered and able to keep a stable income, something which we often overlook in the Western world, but is completely liberating for women like these.
So a massive thank you to all of our recent customers for enabling this positive social change to be brought about!
Five beach reads that will get you thinking this summer!
Sand- check. Cocktail- check. New RubyMoon bikini- check.
Good book? Check.
Nothing beats unwinding and getting into a good book. Here’s a roundup of some of the most popular books on sustainability and the environment. Get informed- whilst getting brown.
Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive, Jared Diamond:
Diamond makes an enquiry into how societies such as the Mayan community and the people of Easter Island, collapsed. Using a range of past and present case studies, Diamond highlights the conditions needed for societal collapse, and what needs to be done to avoid it. Stories of serial self-inflicted ‘ecocide’ can lead us to draw conclusions about the fate of our current situation. Not the jolliest of reads but certainly thought-provoking. Have booze on hand when reading.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, Naomi Klein:
This International Bestseller is a must read for those who care about the future of our planet. Framing our current climate crisis as one based around the conflict between capitalism and the planet, Klein pins the blame firmly on capitalism. She explores how climate action has taken a backseat politically as a result of a larger corporate agenda.
Gaia: A new look at Life on Earth, James Lovelock
In this work Lovelock posits the earth is a living thing, as its own organism. His ideas were often passed by as eccentric. Now, however, as climate change climbs higher and higher up the agenda, many of his predictions about the earth are coming true. Modelled as a modern day prophecy, this is a must read for non-scientists who want to understand more about the earth as a complex system and our place in it.
When a Billion Chinese Jump: How China will save mankind or destroy it, Jonathan Watts
Watt’s travels across China, from industrial waste lands to beauteous mountains, witnessing different responses to the encroaching environmental disaster. He portrays individual lives and responses, from those at the top of society and those at the bottom, in a way that cannot leave the reader unaffected. It highlights especially the role our individual actions can have in making a difference to our planet.
When the Rivers Run Dry: What happens when our water runs out?, Fred Pearce
Dealing with the worldwide water crisis, Pearce emphasises how now, water ‘is the new oil’. He explains how we got to this point of increasing hose pipe bans and drought warnings, in the UK and worldwide. This is sure to get you thinking about your own water usage, or wastage. Let’s not be putting ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow’ signs up in the bathroom though.
By Roisin McCormack
Travel Tuesday Special: The most sustainable European cities for you to get lost in this summer
If your Instagram feed has become sickeningly saturated with other people’s sun, sand and sea posts; why not consider a weekend away in one of Europe’s greenest cities this summer?
RubyMoon puts together a list of five of the most sustainable cities in Europe, according to rankings and general experiences!
Ranked number one in the 2016 Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index-Zurich is the place to be for any eco-warriors this summer. Not only is it the greenest city, but it also ranks highly in terms of quality of living. *Cough cough*; not saying there’s a correlation….The city is teeming with green spaces and nature experiences, such as the lakeside park Zurichhorn and Platpitz; coincidentally also favourites of James Joyce, if you want to stalk the haunts of your favourite writer. You can hop from beautiful park to park easily via Zurich’s sustainable public transport system. In Zurich, ‘eco-tourism’ is now the buzzword of the day; Zurich tourist officials even encourage people to take the train from London to Paris, instead of flying- to reduce the overall carbon footprint.
Stockholm was ranked as the 3rd most sustainable city in the world, and is renowned for its innovative recycling of industrial heat to keep its neighbourhoods warm during winter. It is also home to nearby eco-districts– such as The Hammarbu Sjostad eco-town. Similarly, nearby Malmo and its surrounding region, is cited as Europe’s first carbon-neutral neighbourhood. Check them out for a view into the future! There are also independent organic cafes in abundance in Stockholm itself, for example the Rosendals garden café– where all ingredients are sourced from their own garden, or the Paradiset Organic Market.
In Vienna, the hills are alive with the sound of…. sustainability. Ranked 4th in the Sustainability Index, Vienna is certainly now attracting visitors for more than the Sound of Music tour. Similarly to Zurich, Vienna has one of the highest standards of living, and the happiest citizens. Vienna’s powerplants not only provide clean energy but are artistic too, designed by eco-artists, they dot the skyline. If you think of yourself as a bit of a green fingers, then check out one of the urban city gardens and farms- The City Farm Schonbrunn and the Karlsgarten. Wind your way through the city via bike taxis, or hire a city bike to take in the views and the Viennese architecture. Do the Sound of Music tour, visit one of the many urban gardens, and eat organically, EVERYWHERE. A perfect weekend.
Now, one for the vegans. Berlin is a haven for vegan food lovers, having been named the vegan capital of the world. There are over 30 solely vegan restaurants in the city, too many falafel places to count, and even kebab shops that do fake vegan meat. This urban zeitgeist for sustainability extends to fashion, Berlin is home to a number of ethical fashion brands, and hosts an annual ethical fashion show (5th and 6th July).
Amsterdam, The Netherlands:
A clean and green city where there are more bikes than people, and it’s safer to be on a bike than in a car. The cycling culture in the Netherlands is something that cannot be rivalled anywhere else in the world, and its capital is aiming to be an emission free city in Europe by 2025. If people aren’t on bikes, they’re in electric run cars: both of which are for hire for tourists at cheap prices. In the Negenstraats or ‘nine streets’ you can find gorgeous sustainable boutiques, there are food markets where you can pick up waste fruit and veg for free, and you can also have dinner at one of their many zero waste restaurants. Although there are a number of cute canal-side vegan cafes, be aware the Dutch are very big on cheese and milk; so vegan options are quite often not available and it can sometimes be a struggle to get a soya latte.
“I can’t save the world alone!” – The myth threatening our environmental progress.
Sceptics are arguably a bigger threat to our environment than climate change itself.
Over the years, there have been multiple articles suggesting we all stop caring – from ‘the earth is homeostatic’ to ‘it simply won’t get too bad within our lifetimes’, and the reasons have always been entirely disprovable. One recent article has particularly angered us here at RubyMoon – an Alden Wicker article entitled ‘conscious consumerism is a lie’.
The article highlights the three main points targeted by sceptics in their arguments against acting in favour of the environment – and the three ways of thinking that we need to change.
1.) The misrepresentation of research findings.
A lot of statistics that you see being used to defend non-environmentally friendly behaviour have been taken completely out of context, or just based on poorly executed research. For example, the Wicker article’s main argument is grounded on research by Csutora in 2012. The author split participants up into those acting ‘green’ and those acting ‘brown’, based on a largely irrelevant scale – one which looked at recent changes to behaviour. This put those who hadn’t recently altered their environmental behaviour in the wrong category, meaning the conclusions drawn aren’t completely valid. If reading an article that doesn’t sound quite right, make sure to look into their supporting research to assess whether something has been misinterpreted.
2.) Seeing throwaway fashion as too strong a force to argue with.
Wicker’s article adopts the attitude that it simply doesn’t matter whether we recycle our clothing or not – sooner or later, some future owner of the garment won’t end up recycling it, and it will end up in the same place as it would if we just threw it away now. Frankly, if we all held this opinion, of course all clothes would get thrown away! We simply need to encourage everybody to donate their clothes to new homes rather than throwing them away, and hopefully the quantity of waste being produced will fall. It is also mentioned that you need to be “privileged” to afford ethically made clothes – again, not true! The vast majority of sustainably made fashion is of extremely high quality in comparison to high street clothing, which is designed to wear out in order to encourage future purchases. Ethical fashion items last longer, so you don’t need to buy as many – which works out at the same, if not a lower price.
3.) Thinking that you are not powerful enough.
The Wicker article suggests that the only way that us mere citizens can make an impact is to give all our money to powerful organisations with a voice. Contrarily, there have been many instances of communities coming together to make a difference – such as in the Noord district in Amsterdam where households have come together to collect their plastic recycling and take it to a local drop-off point. This is rewarded with ‘green coins’, which are accepted in exchange for discounts at 30 local businesses for things such as half-price beers, free chocolate or discounted yoga classes. Talking to your neighbours about the environment could result in something really effective coming into place.
More locally, the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership aims to help residents waste less food, Brighton and Hove Wood Recycling Project takes waste wood from local builders and recreates it into a reusable product, and Hanover Action promotes sustainable living and attitude change through various community events like zero carbon energy BBQs and film showings of environmental documentaries. All of these programmes are community-run and have resulted in massive waste reduction.
Even individually, we can make a massive difference to the environment. Things such as eating less red meat, properly considering our clothing purchases and walking or cycling rather than driving or using public transport are all proven to really help the environment in terms of reducing emissions.
Here’s a list of 50 more ways to help the environment that can be implemented at home.
To quote Anita Roddick, “If you think you’re too small to make an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room”.
Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement is no “hoax”: What does this mean for the fashion industry and in general?
Earlier in June this year President Trump made the shocking announcement that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the Paris agreement. This pivotal agreement, signed by 195 nations, is one of the first deals that unites the world in a collective fight against the burgeoning climate change problem.
Living under what has been deemed, the age of the Anthropocene (or the age of man); such a step is one towards undoing the careless and relentless damage done by humans, to our beautiful planet. The Anthropocene marks the period from which humans began to significantly impact the earth, and is posited as being from the 1800s; the beginning of the industrial revolution. Now, as we try to reverse this impact, the phrase ‘all hands-on deck’ does not emphasise enough the need for a worldwide collective effort. Ironically, or perhaps scarily, the U.S. is one of the largest contributors to atmospheric carbon dioxide in the world. Trump infamously quipped that climate change is “a hoax”. Such a regressive attitude paves the way to transforming the U.S. back into a 19th century miner fuelled energy economy. One can’t help but feel that this blatant denial and ignorance, could be material handpicked from an environmental dystopian novel by the likes of Margaret Atwood.
So, what is the agreement?
The aim of the agreement is to lower greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, whilst keeping the global temperature well below 2.0C. Each country must regularly plan and report on its own contribution to fighting global warming. In a more inclusive and accessible move, poorer countries are also provided with “climate finance” by richer countries, to develop renewable energy. By removing any financial barriers, poorer countries (who may face more pressing issues such as extreme poverty or hunger) can more effectively contribute to the cause.
Although not a legally binding agreement; it is one that can be considered as being tightly bound up with the maintenance of reputation. Trump’s withdrawal was met with condemnation and anger across the world. French President Emmanuel Macron reacted tellingly through his re-appropriation of Trump’s own phrase: #makeourplanetgreatagain, whilst other leaders pleaded with the President to reconsider his decision. Trump’s reasoning stems from misinformed ideas that the agreement is damaging to the US economy. Others believe it comes from his desire to revive the mining industry- following his mass support from the ‘rust belt’ during the elections. Interestingly, the only other two nations to refuse to be part of the agreement are Nicaragua and Syria. With one being in the midst of civil war, Trump’s decision looks even more reductive and unjustified.
What are the repercussions for the fashion industry?
Research by the Global Fashion Agenda have found that Trump’s decision will cause the sector’s CO2 emissions to increase by 60%- to nearly 2.8 billion tonnes per year by 2030. If the government is not pushing for more sustainable practices, where is the incentive to be more sustainable? If it’s cheaper and easier to run on without having to invest in renewable energy, having to pay fairly and source ethically- then why would a profit-making company do this? Furthermore, without facing any consequences or accountability, this leaves the field wide open for a continued cycle of unethical and planet destroying practices- at the hands of the latest trends and whims of throwaway fashion.
However, against all depressing odds- many high-profile companies and fashion labels have spoken out against Trump’s decision. Tiffanies and Co, Nike, and Levi’s, among others, have expressed their continued commitment to try and lower emissions; despite now facing challenges because of Trump’s actions. For example, Levi’s emphasised how costly waste reduction can be– and how previous government incentives had allowed this to be done more efficiently and cheaply. Now, less incentive and support slows down progress being made. Levi made the following statement on the subject:
“The Administration’s decision to back out of the Paris Accord will not change Levi Strauss & Co.’s commitment to reducing our impact on the environment; and we will continue to pursue technologies that can reduce the apparel industry’s environmental impact.”
Furthermore, the chief executive of the Global fashion agenda and the organiser of the Copenhagen Fashion summit, Eva Kruse, highlighted the long term financial gain in being committed to reducing emissions around the world: up to 67 billion annually. Trump’s self-proclaimed position as ultimate business mogul is once again questionable with such blatant dismissal of fact, one that suits his isolating and backwards looking ‘America first’ agenda.
It seems that Trump’s decision to “get America out” of the agreement is one that is contested by not only other world leaders, the business world’s biggest names (such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google); but by the people of America too. A study by Yale university (2017) found that 7 in 10 Americans wanted to remain a part of the agreement– in comparison to the mere 13% who wanted to withdraw. 30 states in America are dedicated to continuing the current climate policies and reducing emissions- a ray of hope within an otherwise dark outlook.
By Roisin McCormack