Saving the world. Yep, that doesn’t sound like an easy and fun task. Impossible even. But everyone that has followed the news lately knows this is urgent. Instead of joining forces, I hear a lot of disapproval. ‘’Well there are still scientists that disagree, so I don’t take it too seriously’’. While 99% of the scientists and researchers totally agree we will not be able to live on this earth if we continue to consume the way we do now. Or ‘’Well, my acts don’t matter much, it is the government and big companies that need to change’’ while buying another six pack of plastic bottles wrapped in more plastic. It hurts to hear that. Because I love my life, I love nature, I love people, I am committed to change and I believe those 99% of researchers.
Fashion is to love. I have always loved fashion and I think I always will. But I also love nature, my life, people and the world. Those things don’t go well together, unfortunately. I did not always know that, I bought fast fashion too, and I threw away stuff that was still good to wear. For me, my consuming changed bit by bit because of traveling. Living out of a bag-pack taught me that a full wardrobe is not the only way to happiness, nor makes it much of a difference. I also witnessed real poverty, the first time I was in Argentina. I remember being in an intercity bus, driving through a very small village in the middle of nowhere. A small kiddo was begging for money and the bus driver sent him away to not disturb us -the rich people- with his problems. The kid was only wearing a shirt and a diaper-ish thing (which was dirty). I felt so embarrassed. I literally curled up in my provided blanket, not to be seen. At the end of the trip I gave away my shoes to a little girl on a corner in Buenos Aires I was passing every day. She was dancing, smiling and showed the sneakers proudly to her mom. The environment I have been traveling through changed me too. Watching a majestic male African elephant, knowing that he was in danger in favor of jewelry or Asian medicine made me almost cry.
‘’You walk around the earth too, you breath the air, you drink water and eat food growing out of soils.’’
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make a change. Not only to me personally, but to all the garment workers, to nature and eventually, to you! Because you walk around the earth too, you breath the air, you drink water and eat food growing out of soils. This comes right from the heart, but if we keep consuming like we do now, we will find ourselves at the end of the road. Maybe even at the end of the world, literally, because god knows what happens in 30 years from now. Imagine yourself in 2050. I will probably still be alive and have kids when suddenly the world cannot provide for us anymore because we used up all sources…. This year, 2017, we reached Earth Overshoot Day at August 2nd. On this day, we have used more resources from the planet than she can regenerate in a whole year. (calculate your own overshoot day at http://www.footprintcalculator.org)
I think I am clear about what I stand for. I stand for change, but this doesn’t come easy. As I just mentioned, change knows a lot of disbelievers. The head picture of this blog is when I asked the speaker at a conference for young entrepreneurs: ‘’How to reach and convince people who are less open minded for change or simply don’t care as much?’’. This question has stuck with me for a long time, and I still struggle with it (more tips are welcome). When we talk about fashion, because this is a fashion blog, I come across hardheaded people too. Because I love fashion, it often happens people come to me to show their new items. An inner conflict starts between the activist in me to tell that it is all wrong, and the friend in me who doesn’t want to screw up the friendship by being that annoying activist. Maybe you recognize one of the two types or the inner conflict. I thought and talked about this a lot, so here are some tips to convince the non believers and save the world one person at a time!
Because I too bought fast fashion when I didn’t know about the consequences, and only started buying sustainable when I did. Therefore I strongly believe that education is key. Tell a story about the current fashion industry for example. Personally, I always try to base it on research. Non believers tend to disagree with you and ask tough questions, so be prepared and ask tough questions back. Why does this person believe what he/she believes? Why does he/she thinks the research on climate change might not be true? Only when you stay open minded and listens to the other person, you will be able to convince him/her.
#2 Make it personal
Now this is a tricky one. As I just mentioned, it is difficult to find balance between being annoying and making a change. What I try to do when somebody shows me new unsustainable items, is first paying a compliment. Compliments hurt nobody, and it shows we’re still friends :). But next I make it clear to the person that I do not support it. Sometimes you need to stop right there, but other times there is room for a little more explanation. Ask if he/she knows where the garment comes from and who made it. Maybe show the label and translate the information what it tells. If the person has a kid, ask him/her how he/she would feel to never see their child because they have to work 12 hours a day in another city. Or even worse: what if their child has to sew garments in a dirty factory. They don’t like that thought? Well, then don’t support it by buying this kind of fashion. Yep, it’s harsh, but it is the truth. Never ever blame the person, it can cost you a friendship. It is possible that two people have different opinions or visions, or that your friend is just not as updated as you are.
#3 Show the way
This tip is my favorite and it is a perfect close off for the previous two. This tip puts words into action. Tell your friend about easy tips or recommend a cool brand (shoes, lingerie, bags, sunglasses, etc). It works best if you translate it into your friend’s lifestyle. For example, if your friend is all about saving money, tell him/her that sustainable fashion is cost effective on the long term, as cheap fashion tends to deteriorate quickly, and show them affordable brands.
Another example is a personal one, and my mom will laugh when she reads this. My mom was quite sceptical about eco based detergents when I told her about ‘Seepje’, which are nuts from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree. So I brought her a package of this detergent to try it herself. As it was already at home, she tried it and afterwards she was so surprised to find the clothes clean after doing laundry that she inspected it very carefully and called me after. She was actually laughing at herself for being so sceptical. There you go! Another non believer convinced!
Saving the world is not an one man’s act. We need all of us united and urgent. It is difficult, but possible. You can increase your impact by convincing others. If we all convince one person to make a small adjustment in their lifestyle, or to stop buying fast fashion, we double our impact. That’s it! Not alone, but together we can change the world (and make fashion fun again). Please share your experiences on the matter and your possible solutions!