Climate active citizens voice their concerns about the fashion industry
The fashion industry is under increasing scrutiny for its huge impact on climate change. The industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. And while the environmental impact of flying is not well known, fashion uses more energy than both aviation and shipping combined.
For Future Sake recently interviewed two climate active citizens in the fashion industry to find out their passion and roles within their family, work and communities. To gain an insight into what enables people to instigate change and fight for climate change.
For Future Sake is a project that shares stories of unsung heroes who have dedicated their lives to fighting against climate change. With the aim of inspiring and empowering other to act.
Here is a summary of the two interviews:
Originally a fashion designer from Stockholm, Matilda is a Professor in Design at a London University. Her work has a strong focus on climate change and social justice. She’s an advocate for sustainable fashion, thinking ‘earth logically’ and how less really can mean more.
“After studying a degree in fashion in the early ’90s and attempting to source organic textiles to little avail, Mathilda went on to pursue a master’s degree followed by a PhD in design and sustainability at Goldsmiths in London. Fashion is her love, but she could only enable this love to grow if she explored the industry with sustainability in mind.
“The answer is not in the product. Even if we change to organic textiles, that is not going to do it. We need to think broader to the economic systems with which we live. For me, I have to go outside of fashion to understand fashion better.”
Mathilda recently teamed with Kate Fletcher to build the ‘Earth Logic Fashion Action Research Plan’ campaign: “Unless we address and understand how economic growth drives people to do things that they shouldn’t have to do and drives extraction of resources at the absolutely unrealistic pace, all other attempts we make will make little difference, because the sector keeps growing.”
“The easiest trick is to consume less – it’s to buy fewer things, use things for longer, be more creative, and more confident and just slow down consumption. Try on all your clothes and make a list of all the things that make you feel good. There are no other quick fixes. We need to produce less, we need to consume less, we need to wash things less, and we need to wear clothes for longer. We need to do less of everything.”
Bel lives with her partner and 11-year-old daughter in Islington, North London. She is a former fashion editor turned writer, speaker and activist.
Bel was the Fashion Editor at the Metro between 1999 – 2013. Working every day overseeing the creation of content to sell new ‘on-trend’ products to readers, she was very much in the heart of the fashion industry.
Despite all the glitz and glamour, a simmering feeling of unease started to develop. She explains: “Without realising the impact of fashion, I started to feel that the number of garments we produced was insane.”
With more and more stories emerging about the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry, Bel started to promote ethical brands on her pages, still working within the feeling that organisations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth would eventually stop the ‘terrible’ things that were happening.
Shortly after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, Bel left the Metro and became the founding editor of beljacobs.com. This online platform explores the sustainable alternatives to the industry and promotes ethical fashion. Soon after, she launched hownowmagazine.com, designed to highlight positive initiatives working to tackle the issues in other fields.
When Extinction Rebellion appeared on the scene in 2018, Bel felt huge relief, “Finally here’s a mass movement of people who recognise the disaster on the horizon.”