• Clotilde Moullec

Climate change, Gen Z and sustainable fashion tips. What could I/you do?

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

The quintessential question! With all the info the media bombard us with, some of the efforts you might make at your small scale might feel counterproductive. This is the conversation we’re having at a friend’s dinner not too long ago.

“To be honest, climate change isn’t really my issue.” A friend of mine says this in the middle of the evening. A little tense and awkward silence ensues. With everything that has happened in the past few years, whether it is the multiple strikes and demonstrations calling for change or the European elections demonstrating the growing urgency of this issue, we weren’t expecting this from a young person.

But so… why does she think this? Having such an unpopular opinion in our age group remains something that I have rarely come across, especially in Paris. A little shocked, I ask her why she thinks climate change isn’t her problem.

What effect do I have on slowing climate change?

“Well, maybe I was a bit strong, I do care about climate change, I know that it exists, that it is dangerous and that we have to do our best to ensure that future generations live in the best world possible, but we have to be realistic. ”

What do you mean realistic? “You're going to tell me you care about global warming, that you recycle, that you buy second-hand clothes to try to reduce the consequences of your purchases on the ecosystem, right? At that level, I try to do my best as well! "

Primark’s Good on You rating. Photo, Good on You.

“But if I’m buying H&M, Primark or Zara secondhand, because “That top is really TOO cute”, the carbon footprint of the garment is still very bad, and add to that if you have to send it to the other side of the world and you don’t really know if you’ve done the earth a favor or not..."

And to some extent, she’s right! According to Good On You, Primark has publicly committed to the climate through its plastic recycling initiatives, but the brand's carbon emissions are still very high. Meaning you could still be contributing to Primark’s carbon footprint through secondhand.

Be better informed.

“I used to tell myself that I was really doing my best, but in fact I was doing the absolute minimum. As soon as you do some research on the internet, it feels like even what you’ve been told is “the best for the environment” might not really be the case, like being vegetarian or vegan".

Again, this can be seen this way. Indeed, though plants in general emit less greenhouse gases than animals and thus meat; we are still looking at very destructive monocultures.

Thinking I’m being drastic? The cultivation of soya beans, which has only increased recently with the skyrocketing consumption of soya (to make desserts, vegetarian milks, etc.), has created an increase in soya bean cultivation, and therefore an increase in deforestation specifically for larger cultivation. As a result, the ecological impact of soybeans is catastrophic.

And this is no better for other plants used as substitutes in vegan and vegetarian dishes. They also have an increasingly high ecological impact. Indeed, massive almond and coconut monocultures have become the norm, becoming more and more destructive for the environment.

Then what can I do?

Phew, by this point, you must be completely deflated. You saw the title of this article and thought you were going to get great ideas of the new things you could do to be more sustainable on your scale. And don’t worry, we’re here to help you with that and not completely lose faith in sustainability in general!

Many young people are getting disillusioned about helping with the climate crisis due to a very “all or nothing” attitude, if you do only a bit, you’re not doing enough! Some young people are even suffering from eco-anxiety, the fear of impending environmental doom.

Here at Fueled, we have realised that sustainability doesn’t always mean the same thing for everyone, and that’s alright! For some, you have to live a full no waste lifestyle to consider yourself sustainable, and for others shopping local is already a big sustainable step.

How to become a more sustainable fashion consumer.

Here are a few things that you can look into that, though you might not feel it straight away, do impact the world even at your level! We’ll focus specifically on fashion, so let’s start off with shopping second-hand. By now, you’ll definitely have heard about Depop, Vinted or Vestiaire Collective, just to name a few! But there are also smaller curated shops like Blaise Ruby that sells drool-worthy bags through Instagram or Lolita vintage that does flash sales of Levi's jeans.

Depop is a mobile application which allows you to buy second-hand clothes.

Other than that, there are a ton of apps that can help you along your sustainable journey. For instance, Save Your Wardrobe is an application that helps you visualise your wardrobe digitally, create outfits in the app and helps you find new ways to increase the lifecycle of your clothes, all from the comfort of your phone. Another app helping with that is Nuw Wardrobe, this app enables you to swap clothes simply by putting your clothes on the app.

Brands are also taking action against the massive waste problem of the fashion industry. Indeed, according to studies, 85% of clothes go to landfill and only 1% are recycled. So Patagonia, for one, decided not only to repair your Patagonia items (for free) but also to open a secondhand store and a platform called Worn Wear. Levi’s has also been taking steps towards sustainability, with the option to buy second hand Levi jeans through its website in the US.

And if you’re eyeing a brand and aren’t too sure how ethical or sustainable they are? Then you have Good On You, a trusted source of sustainability ratings for fashion brands, taking into account many different factors like worker’s conditions or use of animal products. And if you want to look into the specific items, don’t hesitate to look into the materials used to create it. Anything with recycled cotton, organic linen or Tencel is a winner!

So, still think you don’t have an impact? Whether you are a self-proclaimed activist or you are just starting on your sustainability journey, you’re doing great! Every step taken in the direction of more ecological solutions is activism. The rest is up to you ;)

Originally published on ‘On media. Adapted for the purpose of this article.

This article was written by Clotilde Moullec, Digital Marketer at Fueled and Digital Marketing Lead at Save your wardrobe. An activist and blogger with a passion for fashion and sustainability, bringing to the table how Gen Z sees the world and what’s important to them.

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