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Reasons for hope in 2021

Happy New Year! 2020 has been quite a year, to say the least. But today we want to look forward and list some reasons for hope in 2021. We touch on the fashion industry, climate change and sustainability and finish up with some tips on what you can do as an individual to become more sustainable.

MARY LOU DAURAY, ‘JACKSON HOLE’, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS, 30″ X 30″

With her work, Mary Lou Dauray wants to create awareness about the ways people are destroying the earth. Her various series touch on topics such as plastic pollution in the ocean and glacial melt, she also writes articles about environmental art and activist artists.

The fashion industry

There is a notable positive shift in the fashion industry on multiple fronts. Last year was a tough year for the fashion industry, and it is not over just yet. We noticed in our network, however, that more businesses are future-proofing by paying attention to sustainability and solid partnerships in order to become more resilient to external influences.

“I feel very strongly that when we come out at the other end, people’s values are really going to have shifted. It is an opportunity for all of us to look at our industry and think about the waste, money and consumption and excess we have all indulged in”

Anna Wintour

By consumers and fashion brands having to take a step back, there is an opportunity to reimagine existing systems. COVID19 brings many challenges that demand flexibility and creativity. For example, this year’s fashion shows, many of which were moved online, had to maintain their ‘special’ qualities in a new environment. Creativity is what fashion is all about (The Guardian, 2020) and creative processes as such are needed in order to design a new and more sustainable fashion industry.

Due to the pandemic, many stores had to close their doors. Resulting in them cancelling and refusing to accept placed orders and pay garment workers. This sparked the #payup movement, demanding brands to pay what they owe. Many businesses have committed to pay their past orders in full over the past few months, you can track their commitments here.

Overproduction due to fast fashion is being given a second thought, just as the necessity of seasonal collections. Designers are beginning to develop collections and long-lasting items applicable to all seasons. Buying secondhand is also becoming increasingly popular through platforms such as Depop and Rent the Runway, and businesses are recognising the need to grow alongside these new demands and trends. As you can probably tell, these improvements come in many different shapes and sizes but are all part of the fashion industry’s journey towards sustainability.

Climate change

The pandemic brought with it the opportunity to alter and improve current production, decision-making and behavioural patterns. Forbes (2020) writes that trends in politics, markets, technology and society are all pointing in the direction of a cleaner, healthier and more inclusive world.

Countries, unions and businesses made low-carbon commitments, such as the European Union, Canada and China. The EU allocated 750 billion Euros to climate action, one-third of their total spending, and will adopt its zero pollution action plan in 2021 (European Commission, 2020) and Joe Biden, US President-Elect, has a USD 2 trillion strategy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Last December the UN’s Climate Action Summit took place, an event that brings together world leaders to share sharpened climate commitments and measures to limit global warming (UN News 2020). Noticeable is that the world leaders from large polluting countries were not invited to speak. It is, however, clear that climate change is on the global 2021 agenda.

Sustainability

Last year taught us to appreciate the little things. A walk in the forest, family dinner or face-timing friends. It taught us to take a step back, slow down and make do with less — consumers bought fewer clothes this year, for example (The Guardian, 2020) — working from home, taking time for ourselves or getting creative with what we already have available. One of the terms that more people became aware of in 2020 is sustainability. The year highlighted how both sustainability and the climate crisis in their many guises affect us, and we them.

This increased awareness is incredibly valuable and every single sustainable act contributes to mitigating climate change. Both individual actions and people coming together can demand change from governments and big corporations. As this movement grows, even more measures will be taken. This provides hope for 2021 and the years to come.

What can I do?

In case you’d like to contribute and become a more sustainable individual, here are some of our tips:

  1. Adopt a more plant-rich diet. A report commissioned by the UN estimates that 23% of greenhouse gas emissions come from agricultural livestock (Earthday, 2019) and 60% of all animals in the world are raised for us to eat (Earth.org, 2020). There are tons of delicious and easy vegetarian and vegan recipes that can be found online or in cookbooks.
  2. Educate yourself. Watch informational videos by respected sources or documentaries on Netflix. For example, David Attenborough’s documentary: A life on our planet.
  3. Keep an eye out for sustainability events, developments and be vocal. You might inspire someone close to you to do the same.
  4. Vote with your wallet. Each penny we spend sends signals to corporations: what it is that we want. If we want change, we need to spend our money in that direction.
  5. Read our post on 10 ways to be a more mindful consumer.

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