THE SUSTAINABILITY MOVEMENT: HOW INCLUSIVE IS IT REALLY?

How we can create an inclusive sustainable community
Open one of your social media platforms and within 2 scrolls you will find something about sustainable living, green shopping or a new conscious collection. Scroll another two posts down and you'll see the growing eat, pray, love influencers preaching about how to have a more ethical lifestyle. While I love the things you learn on some of the channels and the brands I'm discovering, the movement has some major red flags, and as Charles Gross would say, "let's talk about it".

First, let's dissect the word sustainability, "Meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This definition was first used in 1987 for the Brundtland Report produced by several countries for the UN. Nowadays, our basic needs for most people are easily met, for this group of people it's also easier to think about the needs of future generations thus being more thoughtful and conscious with what you consume in your body as well as what you put on it. Now, pause for a second, what if you live in an environment where meeting your needs means working multiple jobs? For marginalized communities, sustainability is to survive in this world and work with what you have, fresh or biological food isn't an option in some instances and we need to stop being this tone deaf about it.

Fashion is another example where inclusivity is harder to find in the green movement. Although brands are popping out conscious labels faster than Thanos vaporaded half of the population, I have a few question marks in regards to this. H&M's Conscious range is made in Cambodia, I wonder how the workers' needs are met, and, after reading their sustainability commitments, I still feel a lot is unanswered. Besides fast fashion companies, we have these amazing brands like Pangaia, Faithfull the Brand, Maison Cleo and Re/done where planet-friendliness is the core-value of their company. However, if we look at the price-point, the up-front cost is not very affordable for a lot of people. A tee from Pangaia starts at £43 in comparison to H&M's £9.99. However, given the arguably better stitching and durability of the sustainable option, you will be buying an item that will likely last longer. Plus, there are brands like Yes Friends pioneering the way for affordable sustainable fashion. Still, for the most part, the up-front price-point is less affordable for a big portion of the demographic.

Price-point aside, sizing wise there is a massive lack of inclusivity, therefore choosing fast-fashion might be the only option for the plus-size community. Just take a look at some of the clothing-swap apps or rental companies. Even though they are a great option for affordable sustainable fashion, they serve mostly smaller sizes. This is an area in which sustainable fashion definitely needs to improve.

These red flags need solving on a bigger scale but we can still make the smaller change within ourselves. Start listening to your neighbors instead of giving your two cents on fast fashion (I have been very guilty of this), support local and marginalised businesses and, if possible, be an advocate of an inclusive sustainable community. For sustainability to be impactful, every member of the community should have their needs met.
Article by Denise Chua