Cowspiracy. That’s what did it for me. I’d pondered vegetarianism before, but had never fully committed.
The documentary exposes that animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land, and 1/3 of the planet is desertified with livestock farming as the leading cause. How could I preach that I cared for the environment and our future and continue to eat meat? I was a hypocrite, and it had to change.
A month and a half in, and i’ve genuinely never felt so good. I’ve had some small slip ups, like accidentally eating prawn toast until I realised it actually had prawn in, but on the whole it’s going well. I’m eating good, wholesome foods. I know this may not be because i’m a vegetarian, because technically a vegetarian could live on a diet of oreos and cheesy wotsits, but it has certainly changed my attitude towards food. Now, I want to eat plant based because it is good for inside and good for the Earth on my outside.
Since going veggie, I’ve realised how intrinsic meat consumption is in UK food culture. It’s no longer a symbol of wealth, but a symbol of unity. It is going to be a massive challenge to change this culture, but since #COP21, there is a sustainability driven wind in the air. Not eating meat or even eating less meat is one of the most sustainable choices an individual can make.
A more globalised world has changed the face of fashion. New trends and fashion can be mass produced and sold to consumers at lightening speed for the lowest possible cost. Outsourcing factories to poorer countries has driven the price of clothing down to a minimum (even when the cost of transporting across vast oceans is factored in). The product of fast fashion was a throwaway culture. People are now culturally conditioned to buy an item of clothing, wear it a few times and then throw it out as a new season, with tantalising new trends, comes in.
‘Sustainable’ fashion- a relatively new concept in comparison to ‘globalised’ or ‘fast’ fashion. Animal welfare, labour conditions, carbon footprint, how long a garment lasts, recycling and material choice are all elements of sustainable fashion, but the list goes on. To different companies and brands, sustainable fashion means different things, leaving consumers confused, uninspired and unable to resonate with the true meaning of sustainability. Some say sustainable fashion is simply environmentally friendly, yet this is part of the wider trend that is ‘ethical’ fashion. The broad definition of sustainable is to continue indefinitely, but when applied to fashion, it boils down to this: a complete system (from manufacture to disposal) that uses resources in a way that does not compromise the needs of future generations, has a minimal impact on the environment and also one that enriches and supports communities at all levels of development.
Globalising the fashion industry has proved it’s ability to drive change, but has also shown how the industry has the power to induce a shift in consumer attitudes. Fashion is the most influential communication platform in existence. This power should be harnessed and used for the greater good. The industry has the potential to be an innovator instead of a destroyer, and can make sustainable fashion fashionable.
Making fashion sustainable is almost ironic. Fashion is centred around a throw-away culture, where each season old garments are thrown out and replaced with new ones, in keeping with the newest trends. Each time this happens, garments are often simply thrown away, rather than being reused or recycled.
31% of the UK’s used clothes end up in landfills. This incredulous amount of wastage does not need to be so.
At H&M, the aim is “to make fashion sustainable and to make sustainability fashionable.”
H&M’s sustainability sector, called ‘Conscious’, has launched a garment collecting scheme to bring this aim to life.
You can take your old unwanted clothes and home textiles into any H&M store in the world, so that the fibres can be made use of again. To top off the satisfaction of doing something good for the environment, you will receive a £5 off a £30 spend voucher to say a big “thank you” for your contribution.
Watch the video below or click on the link to H&M’s website to learn more about H&M Conscious.
Long live fashion!