We are living in the age of contradiction. On one hand we abhor violence and on the other we continue to discriminate. On one hand, there is a growing sense of environmental responsibility and on the other we continue to ravage and exploit the planet in umpteen ways.
There are a lot more pro-planet initiatives across the globe; Hand-made, sustainable fashion; Causes and hashtags on animal cruelty, fair trade, organic farming and sensitive subjects like child and cheap labour in the underprivileged third world countries. While we are also seeing massive amount of plastic, hazardous material and trash accumulating in our oceans; The carbon footprint is growing despite a gradual transition to the Green cause.
The divergence in viewpoints on environmentalism is universal but the end result is proving to be quite contradictory. Karl Lagerfeld ‘haute fourrure’ or ‘couture fur’ runway show earlier this month at Fendi’s couture show in Paris is a testament to the fact! The Chanel head designer (who also heads up Fendi and his own eponymous label) vehemently supports the fur industry justifying his supporting the growth of the trade in saving jobs of people engaged in it since he believes they cannot do any other job besides slaughtering!
Then we have trail blazers like Jane Birkin, Hermès’ Birkin’s eponymous muse who wants her name struck-off of the crocodile-skin version of the bag; Stella McCartney for bringing eco-cool to the luxury bandwagon with her environmentally sustainable and ethical clothing line although her brand which is part of the The Kering group (previously PPR Luxury Group) holds many brands under its umbrella that do not conform to eco fashion standards that she identifies with.
As polarities don’t just exist in the luxury business. Denmark has far surpassed its energy needs just through renewable wind energy while parts of world remain heavily dependent on depleting oil & gas reserves and few other countries struggle to even provide basic energy utilities to their citizens.
In the light of these polarities, we are experiencing a heightened extremism in the guise of remaining news worthy. #CeciltheLion is an interesting subject for introspection on defining such polarities. There is a global backlash on the merciless slaughter of Zimbabwe’s favourite lion by an American dentist and part-time game hunter ..and there is also a wholehearted support for him especially in the light of Mia Farrow’s tweet disclosing his business address to the haters at large in addition to people citing legitimacy of his barbaric actions against innocent animals.
The world’s divided in the social media between people who want to protect and people who want to hunt. There seems to this constant contradiction in the world today where everyone seems to be pitting against the other to remain relevant.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Humans are abundant but endangered species and environmental resources aren’t. Economic productivity and growth operates on the logic of demand and supply! So the supply of resources largely depends on us as we as consumers decide the cycle and extent of consumption.
Up-Cycling, Trashion or Zero-waste fashion is the term that’s widely used for recycling and involves using processes that creatively and effectively use existing resources. The Higg Index standard is increasingly being used to assess environmental and social responsibility throughout the lifetime of creating a product from the start to the end of the production cycle. There are other reference tools available today as well like Eco Index, Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool, and Global Social Compliance Program (GSCP) that can help in aligning industries in achieving sustainability.
Hand-Made & Man-Made
Hand-made has strong historical reference. The old world loved hand-crafted products and history is a testimonial to the fact that craftsmanship was a dominant force sans waste, over-consumption and mass-consumerism of today.
Man-made on the other hand also reflects on how we can increase our eco-conscious and socially empathetic imprint.
Jim Thompson revitalized a cottage industry of hand-woven silk and transformed Thai Silk into a world renowned luxury brand using sustainability methods and best labour practices.. Gandhiji popularized Khadi and for a long time Khadi was a Gandhian legacy, a movement that propagated the use of hand-made with Khadi. In fact he was the first crusader of green and clean fashion in modern India especially in the Indian politico-historical context. Khadi was never actually revered as the fabric of choice by the fashion conscious. But now handloom – Khadi, Jute, Wool, Organic Cotton and Silk (obtained by natural processes and non-violently) and coloured by vegetable and herbal dyes are being used even though sparingly by designer labels and also have found a small niche in the market amongst the fashion elite of the World.
Social Responsibility Vs. Eco-Entrepreneurship
Social responsibility should not begin and end at corporates alone. While money is needed to invest in green economy initiatives, each one of should hold the responsibility to accelerate green ideas at an individual level. Social responsibility towards environment is not exactly an epiphany neither an entitlement but there is something we can all do in small measures – Consumption cannot be stopped but can be controlled. Before our intellectual dogmatism invades our future prospects, Its time for a collective call on making a positive environmental impact, supporting at large the recycling industry – truly, the industry of the future!
Photo Credit on the main menu: hyphenmagazine