by Marie Heffernan
|Photo: Marie Heffernan|
As the leaves fall and the autumn air turns cool and crisp, my excitement gathers for my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving! As we feel the spirit of Thanksgiving during the fall months, I wanted to talk about gratitude and how it can be used as a tool of empowerment.
Sometimes, creating a truly eco-friendly and ethical world can seem so far out of reach. We are witnessing rising temperatures with an extended Indian summer, and often see so many human rights violations by just turning on the news.
Let us not feel despair about these current events though – remember this is a post about gratitude! One thing we can definitely feel thankful for is that we are so aware of the current issues that the planet and humanity is facing. Another thing to be grateful for, more and more of us are beginning to care deeply about these issues and want to create a positive impact. The “tribes” that are created through our shared passions and values are definitely something to be grateful for.
Personally, I always feel inspired when connecting with others who share an interest in eco and ethical fashion. It’s motivating for me to work on projects with people who want to make a difference. Sustainable fashion events are also so inspirational because I learn from the people I connect with there and even gain new perspectives on things. Collaboration and connection are two things that I am especially grateful for when facing the task of changing a worldwide industry.
Shifting the mind to feel gratitude, rather than frustration, for the eco and ethical challenges we face in the fashion industry, will enable us to become more productive in creating positive change. For example, when we discover a brand is not aligning with our personal values, we can use this as a motivator to find one that is. We can recognize that the challenges of the fashion industry, and our planet and its people, are things to be grateful for, because they set us on a journey to improve the system. We have the power to make changes and influence people, through our buying habits and decisions.
Isn’t this amazing? Think about it – when we buy an item, retailers and buyers do take note, and that sends a message to them on what to buy for the next fashion market week. The message gets passed along to designers, and directly influences the way we design. Imagine, as a consumer, playing a vital role in shifting design to be more thoughtful, incorporating eco-friendly materials and ethical production practices. That ability to create positive impact as an individual is pretty empowering and definitely something to be thankful for.
Understanding that as individuals we have power to create positive change can be difficult at times though. In the past, I have definitely experienced my own doubts about this. It takes a certain level of surrender, and accepting that doing your very best is all you really can do. It is a process of learning, decision making, and action. If we can make each of these steps a step toward positive change, we are already headed in the right direction. One thing I have learned is that, while I do hope my daily decisions and buying habits will change the world, I cannot let the weight of changing the world rest solely on my shoulders. I understand now, we are all in this together, and we each have a role to play.
So how do we go about creating this positive impact as an individual? Thankfully, there are countless brands emerging that are creating beautiful sustainable product. Of course, as individuals, we each have our own definition of sustainability. We each have our own set of values and vision for how we want to positively impact the world. Another thing to be grateful for is the fact that the emerging brands are catering to an assortment of different values and ethics. Define what sustainability means to you, find a brand doing that, and then support them! It could mean products being made with natural textiles, recycled textiles, zero waste design, workers receiving a living wage, local manufacturing, transparency or vegan products.
|Photo: JJ Noel Imagery|
The fact that so many people are interested in sustainability is something to be thankful for. What is your definition of sustainability? At Lola & August sustainability means producing lingerie ethically and local to Toronto, to support workers and community there. With Naturæ, the definition shifts slightly to include a focus on natural, 100% organic fabrics. The sustainability direction for Naturæ is creating intimates that are healthy for the wearer’s skin, by using fabric that is both non-toxic for the wearer and the planet. Another mantra for sustainability that comes up frequently is “buy less, buy better”. Both Naturæ and Lola & August share this view of sustainable fashion, as they produce quality products that will last. This way, their customers can cherish a beautifully made piece, and end up shopping less in the long run.
For me, sustainability, is a shift in mindset as well as behavior. Also it’s a learning process. These days, shopping is quite a rare activity for me, compared to how I used to in high school and college. When I do, I research before purchasing. I look into how something is made, and the material that it’s made of, and whether that material is something that will last me. I think about buying more classic styles that can be mixed and matched easily. So for me, sustainability also means quality over quantity.
After defining sustainability, the next step is action! Through a positive attitude of gratitude and motivational thoughts, we will empower ourselves to take action. Then, through our actions we can empower others to join us on this journey. Accepting obstacles, and then embracing them is the only way to push forward and create positive change for humanity, the planet, and all things that inhabit it. We each have a role to play, and by facing the challenge with positivity we can use our individual buying decisions to positively impact the fashion industry and therefore the world.