As the stark reality of climate change becomes clear, we ask how can we as individuals make enjoying fashion, food and travel less wasteful but still wonderful? Let’s apply a thoughtful, intelligent mindset to how we can be “climatarians” in more areas than food, says Holly Hughes. Changes can include consuming fashion in different ways …
Historian Rutger Bregman writes that if our efforts to fight climate change don’t feel like a sacrifice, then we’re not doing it properly. That if the behaviour changes, lifestyle hacks, or product swaps we make don’t feel hard, we’re probably not doing enough to prevent environmental catastrophe. This is not an easy thing to hear.
As individuals, we have already taken great strides in the right direction. We’ve purchased the KeepCups, bought the electric car, erected compost heaps and switched home energy providers. We’ve cut down on plastic and ramped up recycling. We turn off lights and turn to local businesses over unethical conglomerates. These changes are important. They matter.
And yet. They often feel like something of a dance – a circling of the main issue, like painting the outside of our house while the interior crumbles. These changes decorate our lives; they do not transform them. They are not sacrifices so much as compromises. They are not the effort of which Bregman speaks.
So, what of the things we love to do? A holiday in a farflung destination; the joyful purchase of a party dress worn once; an occasional takeaway that becomes a weekly staple. Fashion, food, and travel are responsible for the bulk of our individual carbon emissions. When confronted with Armageddon, is there still room to enjoy these things?
If the behaviour changes, lifestyle hacks, or product swaps we make don’t feel hard, we’re probably not doing enough to prevent environmental catastrophe.
How we shop, travel, eat, and relax must change to meet the urgency of climate change, but how we experience these fundamental parts of living need not. In committing to lowering our footprint, we do not need to sacrifice beauty or joy or wonder. When we talk of fashion, food and travel, it is not just things, ingredients or consumables we are thinking of but pleasure and nourishment – both physical and emotional. All these can exist in a carbon-conscious world.
In fact, they can be amplified, heightened, improved. Because truly, what the climate crisis demands most from us, is simply that we think. That we divorce from a cultural consciousness that coerces us into buying first, thinking later, and practice mindfulness over impulsiveness, delayed instead of instant gratification. That we simply pause in the fast-paced whirl of life to reconnect with the fundamental needs of our minds and bodies.
When we do this, we find we need less. A fast fashion splurge is replaced by the slowburn satisfaction of a pre-loved find. The foreign mini-break we thought we couldn’t live without is swapped for a weekend of finding the foreign in the familiar on our own island. We have adapted to unimaginable circumstances over the past two years. We know what it is to give up so many of life’s pleasures for the survival of our loved ones, communities, even strangers we have never met. We need to apply that same urgency to the climate crisis. Yet this needn’t be an exercise in deprivation but rather a journey of discovery. Instead of sacrifice, let us have mindfulness. Over fear, let’s choose joy. Together, let us commit to having less, so we might live more.
To read more about how we can help stop climate change at home, in our everyday habits, pick up THE GLOSS & The Mix January issue on newsstands now.
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