The IPCC tell us we have 12 years left. 12 years until climate change is out of our hands and we are at the mercy of mother nature. It’s blasted all over twitter and facebook that we can make a change. Recycle, they say; walk or take the bus, they say. But now we’re given a new slogan. Conscious consuming.
What does it mean to be a conscious consumer? Well, every time we walk into a shop or restaurant, we are mindful of the ethical and social consequences of buying from such an establishment. We have a boycott, or buycott mentality. Does this firm give back? How big is their carbon footprint? Corporate responsibility has slowly seeped its way through the system and into the lap of the, often millennial, consumer. This consumer is one that is determined to reverse the mistakes of the past, often because the implications faced are very real future problems for themselves. Environmental issues are particularly emphasised because they are the issues that are closest to home. There’s a water shortage in South Africa today, and before you know it there’s an avocado shortage in your fave LA coffee shop tomorrow.
As we all know, this generation is also consumption-mad. The short attention span of my generation drives us to be constantly after new things. The emphasis on sustainability and newness come together to form conscious consuming. We needn’t give up our lifestyles, provided that we do it correctly.
The truth is, a brand can label itself sustainable by merely focusing on one aspect of their manufacturing process and evolving it. It is almost impossible to create an entirely sustainable brand. The consumer also needs to be conscious of the fact that a face-value “eco-friendly” brand might also be doing more harm than good. If those board shorts are handmade out of regenerated recycled plastic, but flown to you on complimentary next day delivery, then is it truly sustainable? The consumer cannot dictate where the profits end up either. What if the CEO of this ethical firm is in fact spending their bonus on an expensive and fuel-inefficient car which they run the kids to school in everyday? The firm can carry on with a larger consumer base due to their “sustainable” branding, guilt free. They’re doing their bit, they think.
We are not at a loss when it comes to this problem, however. Technology is on our side. The app Good on You (which has recently gained support from Kering as part of the luxury conglomerate’s sustainability push) is one that helps you analyse the sustainability levels of a company before you purchase clothes from them. You can even search for the type of item you want to buy and the app will recommend retailers to buy from that are the best for the environment. They provide thorough and comprehensive reports, with quantitive grading and well-rounded analysis. This guarantees that the firms claiming to be sustainable are called out about the other aspects of their firm structure that could be improved. Ultimately, I highly recommend this app to anyone looking to be one step ahead in terms of sustainable fashion.
Click the image below for more details about the app.