Let’s talk about some Sustainability controversies! (Part I)
So much to say and so little time about this. Let me try to organize my thoughts.
WHAT DOES SUSTAINABILITY MEAN?
When I started, I studied and read a lot about sustainability from a more theoretical perspective and it became clear to me what a sustainable business meant. However, as I started to research businesses, especially clothing brands, I noticed that the definition of sustainability – that made sense to me – was not what was being used by other businesses.
They equated sustainability with issues related to the environment, being eco-friendly. And to me, that is just one of the pillars of sustainability. Coming from a Finance & Ops background, all I want is for us to all mean the same thing when we talk about sustainability so that it can be clear to the consumers. Which would in turn potentially generate more commitment.
Nothing wrong with a brand focusing on being more environmentally friendly, but to be truly sustainable, one has to also look at the overall social impact. Check more on what it means to be sustainable here.
DOES A PRODUCT HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE TO BE TRULY SUSTAINABLE?
Another big controversy is around price. Well… first of all, I ask: what is everyone’s definition of expensive? We were conditioned to overconsume and to believe that a t-shirt should cost as much as a cup of coffee. Part of being sustainable is to think before you buy. So, look for clothes that fit in your pocket but respect the environment and social issues AND that will last. Additionally, demand pricing transparency from brands.
So… it’s not that to be sustainable, it has to be expensive… understand what goes on in delivering sustainable products and you will realize that they can be a great value. The more prevalent the concept of sustainability is, the less this will be a controversy. As consumers, we should understand what we are paying for and why it matters.
ONLY BIG CHANGES MATTER
Another one is the whole discussion around small changes… Some people think that only big changes matter, but even within a big corporation, it’s very hard to enact big changes right away. Should we then not change at all?
Inertia has prevented me from doing more for most part of my life because I didn’t think it mattered. If I had implemented some small changes 10 years ago, I guarantee it would have mattered. Because the more you do, the more you want to do… It’s about progress, not perfection.
And no, it won’t solve all the problems at once, and yes, if you can do big changes, go for it, but the reality is most people can’t and they end up doing nothing. And finally, recycling (if that). So much emphasis has been placed on recycling over the last decades that it makes it seem that it’s the solution. However, only 9% of all plastic ever produced has been recycled. While plastic can be great for many uses, single-use plastic and plastic in our clothing is not. Recycling should be the last resource. Looking at eliminating plastic from our lives as much as possible, creating different business models (circular model, for example) is what is going to solve the issues we have, not recycling. Don’t stop recycling but look to understand more before you buy an item. And look to recycle hard-to-recycle items with Terracycle.
Well, that´s it for now. That should be enough food for thought/discussion. Like with small changes, let’s tackle Sustainability controversies little by little. Feel free to comment and/or share this content with your family, friends, and community. Let’s get people talking about sustainability!
And always. Rebel for Good. Rebel for Change!
Stay tuned for our next blog post and feel free to comment or write me with questions and/or suggestions about themes you would like to see covered in our blog.
*Rebel Buda, Inc. is a public benefit corporation and proud member of 1% for the Planet. We offer 100% certified organic tees and tanks for the whole family so we can rebel for change together.