Answer: Of course not.
We all have different interpretations of what being green is, after all, sustainability is a big topic with a vast number of ways to measure it, such as being waste free, buying green energy or driving a hybrid car.
Well, in part, that's the problem because the journey to sustainability can feel overwhelming. As humans we find comfort in the rituals of our day, buying the same things, buying from the same brands, and shopping at the same supermarket.
Over the last 12 months there has been a huge amount of press and social media with images and videos showing first-hand what over consumption and changes in our climate are doing to our planet. Conservation efforts are under way and there are a growing number of fashion brands supporting the work of others to bring about change, but what stops us doing our bit?
What are the barriers?
If you wake up every morning with the intention of being more sustainable, and then feel you've failed by the end of day, then perhaps you are experiencing one or more of these three common barriers.
Whilst materials, production and supply chains adjust to sustainable practices the costs will be are higher. Although some of these costs can be reduced as demand rises, there is one cost which should not change. The cost of labour. We are talking about the cost of somebody's time and skill to make a garment or product you want to buy. Most fast-fashion brands severely underpay the people in their supply chain, meaning they cannot support even the basic needs of their families.
If something sustainable and ethical costs more than your usual brand, it will undoubtedly be because the people are being valued and paid a living wage for their work. Sustainability not only looks to protect the planet, but it also helps to lift people out of poverty.
If you face the barrier of cost, consider buying less but buying better. By considering what you need vs. what you want, you can reduce the number of items you buy. When you eventually buy the item you need, you should be able to afford to spend a little more. The materials will be better, the craftsmanship will be better and the item will last much longer.
Accessibility plays a major role in whether we shop more consciously or not. For example, visiting your nearest plastic free supermarket could be may miles away and simply not convenient for you to visit regularly. Driving the car may mean you spend 15 minutes less on your commute to work.
It will not always be convenient to make a sustainable choice, but making one at all is a good start. Perhaps you can aim to travel to the waste free shop once each week or once a fortnight, or travel to work by bicycle, bus or train once or twice a week. Perhaps you could organise a car pool with a colleague at work?
It is also worth considering that supermarkets are beginning to stock more waste free items. You can buy shampoo soap bars, bamboo toothbrushes and plastic free fruits and vegetables. So keep checking your local superstore for changes to the items they are stocking.
Lack of information
With sustainability being such a hot topic, it should come as no surprise that big brands have taken to 'greenwashing'. Greenwashing is providing only part of the information about their operations rather than the full details. They publish 'green' details to conceal or divert attention from their unsustainable practices.
As a result, navigating the sustainable fashion landscape can be a challenge. That said, there are lots of brands who provide transparency of their supply chain, communicate their sustainability goals and are clear about what they can do better.
It is worth taking the extra time to find these brands. The process is uplifting, empowering and it will make you value the item you buy even more.
Be inspired by the impact you can have
When you choose more sustainable materials such as organic cotton, hemp or Tencel, you have a big impact on the amount of natural resources that are used. Organic cotton uses far less water and pesticides to produce and Tencel is the most environmentally friendly material currently available.
Do you have a reusable coffee cup? Every time you use your cup, you reduce the need for something to be recycled and energy and resources are saved.
Shop second hand. The most sustainable clothing is the clothing you already own, but shopping second hand is the ext best thing.
The same is true with Leather. In fact, the impact of leather on our planet has been known for a long time and was highlighted in the 2017 Pulse of Fashion Industry Report. It determined that of all materials used for fashion, animal fibres occupy four of the top five least environmentally friendly. It also determined that even the most basic PU (polyurethane) is 3x less harmful to the environment than animal leather.
Leather has been a material of choice for consumers for hundreds of years, but industrial farming has become a global concern. In recent years, material development has made huge strides towards more sustainable textiles and now material companies are producing low impact materials that mimic leather, removing the need for animal agriculture and saving the need for vast volumes of natural resources.
At Watson & Wolfe we have worked hard to produce a low impact, more sustainable products which not only bridge the gap between 'non-leather' options and 'leather' options, but ones which can compete as products in their own right.
Whatever small 'green' choices you make, you should find comfort in knowing you are helping to leave a healthier planet for future generations. It may not feel very natural at first but being 'green' is the future and would be great to have you board, no matter how small your contribution.
Article updated 17th October 2021