Friends, let's just call it as the fact that is fact: No industry has a hijacked Hall Pass doing more wrong by Humanity and Planet without abatement than Fashion. As we once again, we checked the box on annual Sustainability Day (October 26th this year 2022).
It's high time we unpack and understand altruistic “Sustainability” shares culpability within the continuance of the problem.
Why? In the history of Greenwashing, this one word may be the most overused, misused & yes, abused.
Sustainability, while a benevolent beacon, is ambiguous to define, impossible to model and equally impossible to measure. Do this experiment: Pull three people aside one by one to define, and you will have three different vague answers. Worse, its ambiguity gives permission to fringe fashion purveyors to adopt the thinnest veneer of a practice, and propagate Sustainability as a loose blanket eco-statement without scrutiny.
A 108 word recap of the sobering facts: Fashion is responsible for 38% of the microplastics in the Ocean, seeping into waterways and fish, toxifying our bodies; studies as far back as 2019 show that humans ingest the equivalent of a credit card of plastic weekly. Fashion is a spiraling ecological disaster where 11.3 million tons of textile waste are dumped annually, leaching in landfills to plague the Planet for centuries, and our hyper-focus on a race to the bottom of price over value feeds this beast unshackled.
None of the aforementioned is new news. Neither is the de facto rally cry to adopt “Sustainability” as the solution.“Sustainable” translates to “to be maintained for a very long time”. Sustainability is at best just maintainability, and it is irrefutable that maintaining the status quo is not going to get us out of the mess we have gotten ourselves into as humans with our Planet. Because let's face it: Humanity en masse will not get on board fast enough to reverse the curse of a polluting industry, despite the choice actions of a conscious collective.
So how do we unf*ck arguably the World’s most extractive, over-consumed toxic industry?
Through a command fashion challenge of Regeneration.
What is Regenerative Fashion?
Ethically-sourced natural materials, within a regenerative model that gives back in impact more than it takes to create. This is not a leap. Business can go further than doing less harm. Business can drive profits, with ethics in their supply chain, while participating as a collective force for social good.
Fashion will never be a perfect industry. Any pursuit of perfection can be the thief of progress. There is a high standard of legacy companies devoted to ethical fashion practices such as Stella McCartney, Yes And, and of course a stalwart, Patagonia.
Yet, the entire industry must be commanded by consumers to dive into a shared devotion through Regeneration. If natural fabric and fibers with biodegradable properties is the material standard, planting trees is the fastest way to address the climate crisis. A regenerative spirit also inspires what is right in fashion, mindful consumption to own fewer things that we love more, built with craft quality to last for life over seasons, thus re-establishing the relationship of value over price to illuminate the true cost of fast fashion.
Spoiler alert: Despite our human ways, regardless of what we do, or not do, our Planet will survive. The more relevant inquiry for self-reflection:
How bad can we stand it? Or how good do we want it?
We see an industry that can pivot from polluting to purposeful, call itself up rather than out, to conspire to inspire, achieving a now golden age through Regenerosity.
Words cast spells. Let’s choose our spellings wisely. It’s time to park Sustainability in the ambiguity bin, and follow the threads of brilliance of Regenerative models in Agriculture and Food Systems to call forward the final frontier: Regenerative Fashion.
Thank you for listening to your beautifully beating heart...
A Fashion Proactivist + A Older New Kid on the Block + Designer of One Golden Thread