Once we have a bit more eco-awareness and are properly integrated into the sustainable community, we tend to wrinkle our noses at any sustainability initiatives from high-street brands.
Mainly because of possible greenwashing and general greed of mass production. We know that even though a brand has a sustainable line, it doesn’t always make them a sustainable choice since the rest of the clothes they make are the opposite.
However, there are some great reasons why we as sustainable influencers and ethical supporters should tone down our eco snobbery and actually look at the benefits these lines bring.
Yes, high-street brands are in general not particularly sustainable for an array of reasons. But their sustainable initiatives are bringing two really massive positives to the cause.
Reason 1 – Information and education.
With their massive advertising budgets, they spread information much more efficiently than smaller brands. They can educate and highlight problems and solutions to a much bigger audience than what smaller sustainable brands can. This means that the general population is getting served knowledge they might not have gone looking for otherwise.
Basically, they are making sustainability “trendy”. And even though it goes against what purists in the community believe in, it’s making more people care about buying clothes that are ethically and sustainably produced.
Reason 2 – Gateway products.
I often talk about gateway products when I hold talks or take part in panels on sustainability. My own interest in sustainable clothing actually came through one such product. A pair of trousers from H&M conscious collection. Before I bought these trousers a few years ago, I didn’t really reflect too much about who, how or what my clothes were made from. I actually just picked the trousers because I thought they looked really nice.
And that planted a little green seed in my mind that begun to sprout and grow. Next time I went to H&M, I went straight to the conscious selection. And after a while, I started digging into other even more sustainable brands. An interest was born through a gateway product.
Those who don’t have an interest in sustainability won’t go looking for it. But, if they come across it by mistake somewhere familiar to them, there is that opportunity of an interest being born. And as with every interest, once you get going, it usually grows.
Basically what we forget to give these sustainability initiatives from high-street brands credit for is the important part they have in converting non-interest from the general public, into a possible future customer of sustainable brands.
It’s important to remember that there is a scale of sustainability. With most sustainability initiatives from high-street brands on one end and carbon-negative super sustainable brands on the other end. Most of the time a consumer isn’t going to go straight to the most sustainable brands, mainly because they don’t have the knowledge yet to understand the full extent of what it means. It’s a journey from one side to the other and we will all be at different places in that journey. Some won’t make it past high-street and that’s ok, but if we allow their interest to grow, they will most likely advance through the spectrum at some rate.
Sustainability initiatives from high-street brands are a really great first place to begin a journey in sustainability and I think we really need to understand and appreciate this and not just discount it as trickery and greenwashing. Do you agree?
Photos – Roz Alcazar. Location – no32 Old Town in Clapham.