Hey kids! The sustainable fashion revolution is well underway.
Words by Alana Sorokin, Founder of Joseph & Alexander
The children of this generation are plagued by the war on waste – a fight not just affecting some, but every living, breathing being on the planet. Plastics and fossil fuels are the weapons. When we talk about ‘future generations’, we are talking about the children of today and in the future. At Joseph & Alexander, we know just how central children are to sustainable development, which is why sustainability is so important in everything that we do. Prince William and “Planet Earth” narrator Sir David Attenborough recently discussed the future of the planet and what can be done to save it at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Switzerland. Furthermore, last year, the Sustainable Development Goals, more commonly known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the world leaders and will be put into action from this year till 2030. So, how do we get the future generations, our children, to champion and follow through with these sustainable goals?
Recent trends and events continue to call for a fashion revolution. We need to move the fashion industry away from the take-make-dispose consumption of clothes that are often produced in inhumane conditions and affect the environment in more damaging ways than most people realize. This issue has been described in previous agenda blog posts on the hidden costs of the fashion industryand, specifically, the environmental costs of fast fashion. We need bottom-up action and solutions, developed with a next-generation mentality, featuring tangible examples and actionable plans. We have identified four ways to create sustainable change and present promising new ways of thinking that are educating our next generation.
Several pioneers are focusing on empowering consumers to make more sustainable fashion choices. To spur such behaviour, it is essential to make it personal and human. Do not forget why people buy clothing: for validation, for recognition and to express their identity. By giving them access to knowledge and a number of options, customers can develop critical thinking for conscious and well-informed purchasing decisions. We live in times when clothing is incredibly cheap and practically disposable when new items appear each season only to be replaced by the latest trend. This has led us to throw away perfectly serviceable items. Luckily, children are quick to grasp concepts and they understand that buying clothes made from polluting, artificial fibres made by child labour in third world countries is no great thing. Furthermore, get a swap group organised with local mums, at playgroup or school. Swap your outgrown clothes and toys for ones that are more appropriate for your child.
Help them learn about the big issue
The consequences of our decisions and actions will have greater and longer-term consequences than ever before. There are many signs that the damage to Mother Earth is now approaching irreversible tipping points, systems are already disintegrating and degenerating, overwhelming the resilience of the natural environment and threatening our survival. We must act now and young people are our future, so it’s worthwhile helping them to understand how they can look after their planet. Whether it’s making recycling more fun or teaching them about all the amazing fruit and vegetables they can eat, be sure to let them know that they can make a positive difference to the world. For example, you can use a trip to the beach (wearing their sustainable swimwear) as an opportunity to teach them about the consequences of littering and other nature-damaging activities. Bring along some gloves and a bag to pick up rubbish, the children will enjoy feeling the impact that they have on the earth as they help clean up their own neighbourhood.
Get them outside
This simple activity goes a long way in teaching sustainability. Sharing in and appreciating a love of the outdoors will inspire kids to care for the Earth. You can also do planned outdoor activities such as growing your own organic food. This helps save on the distance food has to travel to get to you. Plus, it teaches kids to interact with nature.
Talk about ”the three Rs”
Teaching children about “the three Rs” – reduce, reuse, and recycle – can be an excellent jumping-off point for a sustainability discussion. Finding ways to reduce your waste, reuse items, and recycle helps introduce children to being environmentally conscious. For example, children can become well-versed in repurposing materials and turning them into art supplies! Whether you’re using bottle caps, used paper, paper towel rolls, or something else entirely, the sky’s the limit with recyclable goods for crafts.
Remember, children, are never too young to learn how to live sustainably and showing them the small ways that they can look after the environment will set them up for a bright and healthy future ahead.
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