LECTURE: Sustainability and the Environment for artists and designers. Do they have a conscience?
Fast food, fast communication, fast transport, fast fashion. In the last century we have created an astonishingly high-speed, want-not-need lifestyle, that the worlds natural resources cannot keep up with.
A recent lecture ‘Sustainability, Greenwashing & Globalisation’, touched on the different aspects of sustainable fashion and how large corporations use greenwashed marketing to divert the consumers attention from the destruction that they may be causing
Prior to the lecture I had never come across the term ‘greenwashing’ and was unaware there was a label for this act of sugar-coating, however I was aware of the practise.
“Greenwashing” is the same premise “whitewashing”, but in an environmental context. It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush. – greenwashingindex.com
Although the shameless greenwashing that we are fed is hard to avoid, the sustainability problem we face is a worldwide issue, with responsibility on every step of the consumer ladder. Leaders of the world hold the responsibility to come together to create action-plans that can help reduce the destruction we cause. Companies hold a responsibility to stick to these regulations and innovate new ways to reduce the footprint. As for us, the consumers, we hold the responsibility to consider the way in which we live our lives, shop, and treat our surroundings.
The lecture really made me think about my own shopping habits and the amount I buy, only to discard a year, or even months later. I try to either sell on my clothing or donate it to charity, but this is still contributing to the disposable, high-street fashion industry. The problem I have is the clichéd but true idea of ‘retail therapy’. For example, often on my lunch break at work I will cross the street to H&M, ‘just to have a quick look’ (I tell myself). Then out the corner of my eye, I spot the big red SALE! signs, and before you can say $OLD!, I am en route to the till, clutching 3 different bargain £5 dresses, which I will never wear, will live in my wardrobe for 6 months, then be slung out when their replacement comes along. It’s not that I buy with intention of not wearing something, but the temptation of a pretty bargain and adding to my wardrobe gives a small thrill to an otherwise average day.
‘A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy’ is a book by Sarah Lazarovic which looks at the notion of impulse buying. Lazarovic went on a ‘shopping diet’, abstaining from shopping for a whole year and instead painted the items which she desired. “It’s not just saving money,” says Sarah, “because with fast fashion, things are cheaper than ever before. You can go to H&M and drop 50 bucks and buy three new things you think freshen up your wardrobe. It’s mainly about being aware how gross it is to buy so much stuff. More like a psychological shopping diet instead of just a wallet one.”.
After attending the lecture, doing my own research on the fast-fashion industry, and seeing how Sarah Lazarovic approaches shopping, I have definitely began to reflect on what, why, where and when I buy clothes and how it has a knock-on effect. I am not planning to go on a complete ‘shopping diet’, but I am determined to buy less and buy better.