In all honesty, it is difficult to create in the fashion industry with a clear conscience. Every day a brand is picked apart for its negligence to the environment, humanity and the fashion industry. On the other hand, some brands and authors have given us their blueprints to create in a way that benefits everyone. Four books, in particular, stand out as revolutionary texts for the environmental movement in fashion. Those books are as follows: "Cradle to Cradle," "The Upcycle," "The Ecology of Commerce" and "The Future of Fashion." These four books provide great insight into what the issue is, what we can start with today and how we can create a promising future in fashion.
1. "Cradle to Cradle" & "The Upcycle" by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
"Cradle to Cradle" and "The Upcycle" radically changed my perception of the capabilities of manufacturers to create ethically and here is why. The books are a manifesto for the philosophy and practice of manufacturing and environmentalism. For decades, the government and environmentalists alike have preached "reduce, reuse, recycle." The lesson being taught is that we need to minimize damage by downcycling our waste. Instead, the authors suggest "redesign, renew, and regenerate." The prevailing idea is that we have a design problem and not a consumption problem. Our models of manufacturing and consumption, such as cradle to grave, have barely changed since the Industrial Revolution. There are ten points/rules McDonough and Braungart would like you to take from their work, but some of them take the context of the book to understand. So, here are three of their points you can begin to implement today without having to read the book.
• We don't have an energy problem. We have a materials-in-the-wrong-place problem.
• Always be asking what's next
• Add good on top of subtracting bad
2. "The Ecology of Commerce" by Paul Hawken
Paul Hawken has written many books concerning the responsibilities of businesses to the natural environment, but "The Ecology of Commerce" is by far my favorite. Through the book, we are introduced to many goals Hawken lays out for businesses. However, I think the most imperative lesson from the book is that although we may dislike large corporations that abuse the environment, those same businesses hold the key to solving and implementing all of our sustainability issues. Three ideas Hawken proposes are as follows:
• Reduce energy carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 and total natural resource usage by 80%
• Provide secure, stable and meaningful employment to people everywhere
• Be self-organized rather than regulated or morally mandated
3. "The Future of Fashion" by Tyler Little
This book by Tyler Little gives a great introduction to how the current fashion industry is severely damaging to our environment. Little discusses the issues within the industry and the trends being created to combat those harmful practices. Moreover, Little doesn't leave us in the dark, instead, he gives us reasons to have hope for fashion. Those reasons are:
• The individuals making a difference in sustainable fashion
• Sustainable fashion developments from psychology to entrepreneurship
• Anecdotes and social movements in sustainable fashion