The Right To Being Informed: Consuming Less, Consuming Better
The old proverb, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” is so far from the truth. The truth is that what we don’t know could very well hurt you, and also hurt others, and also cause great harm to the planet. The Right to Being Informed could not be more important in this time of heightened interest & concern for individual and collective welfare and global health on the planet. And this Right to Being Informed is also so central to Consumer Rights and to becoming The Conscious Consumer. Therefore it is our right to demand clear information.
This year the World Consumer Rights Day campaign is putting its weight behind raising awareness for sustainable consumption across the globe This is in solidarity with 21st Century Generations and their climate change activism to reduce the impact of climate change on future generations. It is our interest here to focus on Fashion and the Apparel Industry. According to Forbes an article entitled Making Climate Change Fashionable, “the clothing industry follows oil as the second largest industrial polluter, and is the second largest polluter of freshwater resources on Earth. It makes up 10% of ALL carbon emissions!”
What can we do to help? Become a Conscious Consumer. The Conscious Consumer is simply said to be someone who is aware of the negative effects of purchasing items that are not produced sustainably or ethically. It boils down to information, education, and being informed while involving a little activism on our part by simply choosing wisely. In an age of digital information, with easy access to the world & its online wealth of knowledge, it only takes our commitment to making a personal difference in our own lives to live more sustainably. With a little curiosity, you are steps ahead of where you were just minutes ago. Before you allow impulses to engage you with shopping sentiments like “this style is so me”, or “I just have to have it” or “…the price! I couldn’t help myself”, have a sustainable-pause instead as a caring moment for yourself. What about the items and brands that draw you in do you like? How are you expressed in them? In pacing yourself, you retain your power for the long run, to power forward with knowledge. You could potentially develop a wish list and proactively seek and engage brands that you wish to explore. On this list might be brands who already express your values and concerns For Life & Earth with which you might be self expressed.
We are super glad in hearing and seeing that the tide is turning on sustainability and that consumers are rethinking consumption with sustainability in mind. Although there is strong and growing interest in purchasing more sustainable products, there still remain significant barriers to sustainable purchasing. It truly comes down to clear information and honest representation by your favorite brands. Price, performance, and product claims remain the top barriers, as does an overall lack of knowledge about what makes a product socially or environmentally responsible.
In truth, understanding brand and product sustainability attributes should not be complicated; they should be obvious. And while we like to acknowledge every little effort being made throughout the fashion industry, as every effort does make a difference, it remains important to understand the brand’s near & long term sustainability goals to improve their overall environmental and social impact. This needs to be a stated commitment. It is truly not enough to have one or two products making claims about the importance of sustainability when the brand in its entirety is something that is completely the opposite. Give your love to those brands that share your love for Life & Earth.
On this World Consumer Rights Day, it is especially noteworthy to emphasize the important role that consumer rights and protection can play for promoting healthy markets. Engage with the brands you enjoy, and those you would like to enjoy. Here at Truth Alone: For Life & Earth, customer engagement has truly been a vital and rewarding experience for us in knowing all of you, and learning about you. Being responsive to your interests is important to us, and each of you & all of you together are the best influencer there is. It is that collective power that we all possess as consumers that can influence and evoke sustainable best practices in government, corporations, and by extension to those brands we have shown loyalty.
In solidarity with Consumer International, we have joined our thoughts, finding expression in their notable sustainable consumption tips:
Consuming less, consuming better: in the spirit of sustainable consumption, sustainable products should be better and made to last. Their intrinsic value should be perceivable and part of the consumer experience. In the wisdom of our friend, Dominque Drakeford “being able to re-invent new looks [with our existing wardrobe] helps us to love our clothes a lot more. “ The more we can style what we have in new and creative ways, the more we shift from the disposable mindset & culture fueling wastefulness.
As a Conscious Consumer, we advocate that when shopping, we look for items that we’ll wear for five to ten years and stay clear of those that will only last 5-10 times, if even that much. Cheap isn’t just cheap, it’s very dangerous and harmful to people and the planet. The cost of one garments pay everyone involved in their making, from the farmer to the sewer to the staff working in the store. Cheap clothing begs the ethical question: what could anyone possibly earn in this?
At Truth Alone, we believe that sustainable fashion should be an inclusive experience, and not exclusive to luxury classifications. So we deliberately make our product affordable, sacrificing profit For Life & Earth. In giving a sustainable product, made responsibly in organic Peruvian Pima Cotton, we have given a premium quality that gives invaluable comfort & durability. It’s given to be compared alongside of standard offerings and to give an elevated experience of sustainability as a base line for everyone’s wardrobe. We want it to be a game changer and disrupter. The feedback we receive says, “thank you.”
Fashion Circularity, Although the Fashion Industry has a lot of work to do to achieve true circularity in materials, fashion circularity starts with design. It considers the products lifespan, its use, and very importantly, it’s end of use. These considerations inform material selection, styling, construction, and processing to build in product longevity. Our personal preference is organic Pima Cotton, because organic cotton farming does so much good, as compared to its conventional version that is its polar opposite in all the ways it is damaging to people & the planet. Getting the benefits of organic cotton under your belt makes a terrific base line for building sustainable awareness into your wardrobe and fashion sense. Organically farmed and raised natural materials are easy to understand. They are naturally durable, and naturally biodegrade should your item finally come to rest in landfill. But we advocate that you think of donating it, gifting it, sharing it, and even recycling it before you ever think of simply dropping it into the bin. Our resources are precious and warrant our creative thinking, even when we think we might be finished with it. Here too, we advocate a sustainable pause in thought to discover another possibility other than adding to landfill.
The Drive for Sustainable Packaging: Everything comes packaged, from prepackaging to brand packaging, to shipping cartons and shipping packages. The United Nations tells us that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. Fast Company reported “that 165 billion packages are shipped in the USA each year, with cardboard used roughly equating to 1 billion trees.” As we each grow as consumers in our sustainable awareness, sustainability involves every aspect of the items we enjoy. So we urge staying power. Try not to become frustrated, and look for the obvious to start. Climate change and sustainable best practices are no small matter. The challenges are big and the consequences to future generations are very real. By elevating our awareness, and taking sustainable decisions, we all help roll back our resource-depleting way of being. From Amazon, to Walmart, to independent brands, efforts are being made to re-imagine the packaging experience. In your own exploration, keep packaging on your radar to understand how your favorite brands are addressing this important challenge—packaging should be part of everyone’s sustainability story.
For our part, at Truth Alone, we have considered in terms of what needs to be packaged, and where it is being packaged. We source our packaging in the nearest proximity to the location where packaging is needed. We do this to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing unnecessary packaging (of packaging) and transportation. Our garments are packed once in the country of origin, and only a second time direct to consumer.. We use an oxo-biodegradable plastic (while ok, not our favorite material and we’re doing the research for compostable packaging) to maintain the quality of our garments for the duration of their shelf life. For shipping direct to consumer, we source Sustainable Forest Initiative Certified Recycled Cardboard. This is supplied to us in the USA nearest to our distribution center. Here too, we are being mindful of eliminating all long distance international transportation of materials. For our Direct to Consumer boxes, we had custom boxes measured to fit our garments precisely so as to eliminate the need for any additional packing materials. Packaging remains on our radar for improvement as it presents its own sustainability challenges. We advocate for recycling, and are working to avoid any use of virgin material packing inside or outside the world of sustainable packaging.
If sustainable consumption is to become the dominant rule throughout the 21st Century-- and make no mistake, it must become the rule: there aren’t the resources to sustain our current rate of apparel consumption – then it will take a lot of information, education and retraining to be accomplished by everyone, both the industry and consumers alike. As consumers, you have the Right both to Demand and Receive Information. And it is the responsibility of brands to be clear, forthright, and true. We, at Truth Alone, hope that by sharing information about our own practices, and those of our industry, that we will have created a base line approach for your inquiry into becoming a Conscious Consumer.