“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”
― Chris Maser, Forest Primeval: The Natural History of an Ancient Forest
Today, marks the 48th annual celebration of World Environment Day. It’s a day to recognise our effect on our planet and especially think on the forward progress we need to make that will lead to a better, greener Earth.
At Sui, we do our very best to treat every day like it is World Environment Day whether that is by sharing information share with our green heart-er community or consciously and sustainably producing daily at our workshop, however, it’s more apparent than ever that we all need to take action in order to make a change. That’s not saying progress isn’t being made, when it comes to slow fashion awareness, between 2016 and 2019, online searches for “sustainable fashion” tripled, which shows us that we are all definitely becoming to understand how important conscious, sustainable living is. But there’s still a lot we have to do!
What is World Environment Day?
First celebrated in 1972, the UN General Assembly designated June 5th as World Environment Day at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. There they also created the foundation for an institution that would be concerned with environmental issues, eventually named UN Environment.
Each year, a theme is chosen to highlight a specific environmental issue. It’s a way to bring people all over the world in unity to start a discussion, whether that be in their homes, within their schools or beyond. And more importantly, it’s a collective effort to put emphasis on these issues to prompt change within governments and institutions.
2020 theme: Time for Nature
In 2019 alone, we lost 120,000 square kilometers of forest, an area the size of North Korea, to a combination of illegal logging, agriculture and wildfires. A third of that loss came from tropical forests, forests that often boast immense biodiversity. 2019 was the third highest year of forest loss since the turn of the century.
With rising ocean temperatures, our vibrant coral reefs have been reported that they will experience bleaching on a near-annual basis. Although reefs can survive mild bleaching and recover, if the event happens often enough back-to-back, corals will die from the prolonged heat stress meaning the underwater home to many, many sea creatures will no longer exist.
And so, with these worrying statistics, this year’s theme is Time for Nature that calls for urgent action to protect biodiversity. The term describes the variety of life on Earth, the animals and plants that exist on our lands and seas as well as the ecosystems they live in.
What nature does for us is best described in their own words:
“Nature responds to some of the most pressing challenges faced by humans today. It provides us with oxygen, purifies the water we drink, ensures fertile soil, and produces the variety of foods we require to stay healthy and resist disease. It enables medical researchers to understand human physiology; and offers substance for developing medicines. It is the foundation of most industries and livelihoods. It even helps mitigate the impact of climate change by storing carbon and regulating local rainfall. Life on earth would not be possible without nature’s services. It is our greatest common good.”
How is fashion connected to all this?
Our journey began, when we learnt that negative environmental impact was at the heart of the fashion industry too. Yes that’s true, fashion contributes to 10% of the world's global annual carbon emissions, textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water and each year synthetic fabrics, when washed, release an estimated 500,00 tons of microfibres that is equivalent to 50 billion plastic bottles. Fast paced production and cheap methods within the industry are key reasons why fashion’s effect is so large, and due to it much of our environment suffers for it as pollution harms ecosystems and animals far and wide, on land and sea. It makes their survival to be even harder and we are faced with how our actions could bring them to their end.
So, the clothes we choose to invest in have to be considered. We should be looking at our options and the people who create, looking to see if they are conscious of their impact on the planet. The better fashion we support, the better the planet we hope for. And that’s why we do, what we do!
Quoted by Author Dana Thomas in Fashionopolis:
“The revolution is not only going to be born from the makers. We all have to step up. Buy less. Wash our clothes differently. Repair or recycle them. Consider the impact of the material they are made of. Consider the supply chain that produces them. Consider the tenets of the company that created and distributed them. We need to fashion a personal style that does more good for the world than ill.”
A quote we truly resonate by.
We’re not 100% sustainable at Sui but we have pledged to be conscious about each step we take. From the very start, we have aimed to translate our love of nature into creating garments. It shows in the colours we choose, the design motifs displayed, and the processes we choose to craft. If you were to pick out any piece of ours, you would be rest assured that each step of its making was considered so that it could be created in the greenest way that we could manage.
Each collection is inspired by various locations around the world and, more importantly, the natural beauty that is found there as well as the, often, conscious mindset the city itself maintains. From that inspiration we get to work on how we can exude the beauty of the place through clothing using silhouettes that are relaxed and breezy; herbal or azo-free dyes that are not toxic to our environment; natural fibres and fabrics devoid of microplastics; methods of craft that use little to no electricity and creating with the help of artisan communities.
Our team works deliberately with all their green hearts and are always looking for new ways of craft and collaboration that help us make a positive impact on our planet.
Collective Green Action
So, what does collective action really mean? Now more than ever, it is important for us to come together and to amplify our voices for our planet. One strong voice made up and multiplied each of us has the power to create a strong ripple, so never ever believe that yours isn’t strong enough. Start small, educate yourself and share your knowledge.
If you are just starting out on your green journey, don’t worry, we have the resources to help you get started! Here are some useful materials to watch, read and listen to that will help you understand more about the state of our environment and fashion’s impact.
Environment - From our forests to our oceans and everything in between, check out these documentaries that take a look at the various ways our planet is suffering at our hands.
- An Inconvenient Truth
- An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
- Our planet
- Chasing Coral
- Mission Blue
- Chasing Ice
Organisations you can donate to/get involved with:
- Article - World Environment Day 2020: how wildlife conservation organisations are finding unique ways to stay afloat this lockdown.
- ReefWatch Marine Conservation - based in Mumbai, the organisation currently has multiple projects that work to help marine ecosystems as well as educate others.
- New Delhi Nature Society - this society carries out all sorts of projects and activities in order to educate people on the nature that surrounds them, calling for them to appreciate it.
- Mahim Beach Clean Up - an initiative that organises clean ups for Mahima Beach, Mumbai.
Fashion and the Environment - The effect of our industry is immense, and the norm we are all used to is fast fashion. These documentaries and reading materials are a good start to get a sense of the full scope of what our fashion and shopping choices really do to our Earth.
- The True Cost
- RiverBlue: Can Fashion Save the Planet?
- Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj: The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion
- Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes by Dana Thomas
- The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good by Elizabeth L. Cline
- Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went From Sunday Best to Fast Fashion by Clare Press
- The Business of Fashion blog
- The Wardrobe Crisis podcast
- Fashion Revolution podcast
- The Business of Fashion podcast
- Fashion Unzipped podcast
Organisations and campaigns you can donate to/get involved with:
- WomenWeave donation fund - an artisan partner of ours. This fund helps support their weavers and community in this tough time.
- Fashion Revolution campaign - Fashion Revolution Week happens every year in the week surrounding the 24th of April however, they encourage you to use your voice year round to speak out at home and on social media to create more awareness of the terrible ethical and sustainable standards much of our industry abides by still.
- Clean Clothes campaign - a campaign that calls on some of the largest fast fashion producers to improve their garment workers’ conditions
- Detox My Fashion campaign - this campaign moves to investigate and change how large fast fashion corporations produce in order to get rid of toxic production methods that pollute our environment.
- Transparency for Fashion petition - calling to the UK and EU to create a more transparent industry
We hope you too will join us in celebrating today and take a moment to do your part as well. It’s as easy as starting a conversation but also practicing what you preach - be mindful of your plastic use, your energy consumption, your waste, even your food choices. Every little bit helps!