The Stigma Surrounding Environmentalism


A view from the historic secret passages used to transport silk, the “Tramboules” of Lyon

Us Brits really aren’t great fans of total upheaval: it’s as evident in our political system (a constitutional monarchy, if-you-please) as it is in our reaction to the prospect of a little snow in winter.

Its not uncommon, then, for the suggestion that ‘we need to act fast and save the planet’ to produce the odd eye-roll. The occasional bemused smile might flicker on some stiff-upper-lips as images of a nearly nude man takes to the streets with a board that reads ‘the end is nigh’. It’s hardly surprising that in a survey of 17 countries carried out by YouGov, Britain is among the three countries least concerned with climate change, an issue that is ranked among the top three concerns overall.

In truth, acknowledging that we are treating our planet less than honourably is far from lunacy. Like all relationships, ours with the planet has had it’s ups and downs, but these days it seems we’ve stopped putting the effort in all together; we constantly leave the toilet seat up, we’ve let ourselves go, and we never buy her flowers anymore. Our lack of trying puts her in a bad mood; she’s getting increasingly hot headed. However, the truth of the matter remains; we simply can’t live without each other.

It’s very easy to take the view that to live in an environmentally conscious way we have to give up all life’s luxuries in favour of a kind of eco-diet; like telling everyone in the world to switch hamburgers for some equivalent made of algae and wheatgrass. I think this is why many find it easier to pretend the issue doesn’t really exist, claiming global warming is a con, or my personal favourite ‘The climate has always changed throughout history, hello, ice age?!’. It’s certainly an easier pill to swallow than the one that tells us we are responsible, if not for the problem itself, than for the solution and the future.

Then there is the other side of the coin, the side whose extremism causes a polarising effect. I’m of the school that you don’t need to be vegan to have a positive effect on the environment (though if you are are, power to you for making one of the biggest possible commitments). Lasting changes are those that are done gradually, and persuasion will always beat fear-mongering. Focus needs to be put on convincing the majority they are capable and positive impact is within their easy grasp, not by accusing them of their inadequacies.

That being said, the UK shows a desire to change the way it looks at solutions to problems concerning the environment. While an overwhelming majority of 46% believes that the invention of new technology will reduce our carbon emissions, when the individual was asked “how would [they] personally like humans to reduce carbon emissions?” the same majority chose “change our behaviour” over technology.

The reasons we struggle to act are numerous and varied. In many cases, such as with clothing, that which is sustainable both socially and environmentally, is costly. When it comes to recycling, it seems almost impossible to shop for items that aren’t covered in single use plastic- even things with their own natural casing, such as cucumbers or bananas, are wrapped in a useless layer of plastic. Perhaps, then, in order to change our behaviour we need to change our approach.

Parc de la Tête d’Or, Lyon

As consumers, we need to be making demands of the companies to whom we give our money. This can be as simple as repeatedly sending the same email as often as you can, such as the template provided by non-profit “Fashion Revolution”, which highlights the importance of social issues within the fast fashion industry, or as extreme as refusing to buy from brands who show no thought for or awareness of their social and environmental impact.

Amongst exploring many passions on this blog, I intend to look at the practicable ways by which we can all be a better friend to the planet, with a focus on consuming fashion consciously. It’s simultaneously never been so easy and so hard to find new brands; they pop up on your instagram feed when you least expect it and then get easily lost in the noise. In the true spirit of ‘slow fashion’, I hope to create a little space here that gathers and keeps inspiration for you to feast on, sprinkled with my own musings. Stay tuned.

With love,

Millie. x