The fine line between promoting and preaching when it comes to sustainability.
We’re in a period of drastic change within the fashion industry and while demanding better practices from people is admirable, there is no room to make sustainable fashion an egoistic movement.
Those who care about the future of the planet will make choices to reduce their footprint by themselves – whether that’s as big going vegan, reducing flights taken or as small as choosing to bike to work instead of drive. Making the choice to focus one’s efforts on shopping sustainably in regards to fashion is one of a thousand ways to act consciously. Are someone’s efforts invalidated because of a soft spot for an odd pair of Zara jeans? Surely not. I think a more holistic view of sustainability would humble any thrifting activist to look at the bigger picture, and make the movement more approachable for the slow-fashion beginner.
I’m the first person to admit that seeing friends and family binge on fast fashion can be disappointing for those that have made an active effort to be mindful of how they shop. Regardless of how frustrating this can be to watch, there is little to gain from unwarranted bashing or trolling. The basic rules of persuasion teach us to ask one question – what does the other person want? Pointing out the positives in shopping consciously and secondhand instead of the negatives of consuming fast fashion is what has converted and will continue to convert the people that simply don’t care enough to change their habits for the environment alone.
To be transparent, my own journey towards a secondhand-dominated wardrobe didn’t come from a place of environmental concern. It was the other benefits that I found more practical and convincing – the main one being that I could get a designer jumper for a fiver.
Convincing environmental activists isn’t a problem, andtrying to convince the ‘Karens’ or dogmatic boomers isn’t worth much energy either. There is, however, a group of people in the middle that could be convinced to stop or at least lessen their mass consumption of new stuff, if they were nudged in the right way. For slow fashion to prosper, it’s vital that it be seen as an approachable cause and not one people avoid joining in for fear of not being ‘committed enough’.
My own sister who knew the ‘new in’ section of every fast fashion database better than any stylist, has now shifted her focus to charity shops. With initial fears of their chaos and disorganization, she began to give them a chance – not after being shamed by activists online or by climate anxiety – because of the gems that I was bringing home from the charity shops being cheaper and more unique than what she was buying in mass on the Highstreet.
So, let’s not make sustainable fashion a cause backed by egotistic self-importance. It’s a practical issue. Whether the reason for converting to a more conscious wardrobe price or trend is inconsequential – at the end of the day, who cares? Show those around you the benefits of the change, and work smart not hard.