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“There are no passengers on spaceship Earth. We are all Crew” Marshall McLuhan

Are We Eco snobbish?

It’s very easy for people like myself to be Eco-snobbish, talk about sustainable fashion design as something new and exciting. We love to use in the trend words such as Eco-Fashion, sustainable, sustainable development, organic, green living and conscious fashion. Maybe we use these terms to shield and defend a society throw-away mentality, justify our habits. We are usually far better theorists than actually practising what we speak, we hardly put words into actions. Over the last months been able to learn and take actions regarding more sustainable designs, and products manufacturing processes and why things are made in certain ways, such as planned product obsolescence and why we make poorly designed and built products. 

Spiritual product design

Asking questions such as why and how is a good start, not just the physical product but following the processes, first starting with the raw materials, transportation (local or global), the manufacturing process (labour force, safety, water and carbon footprints, pollution of air, land and water etc.) Secondly, where is the product or garment made, how it is transported, local or global and third launching it in a retail environment, advertising and promotion. How does the consumer use the product and for how long? Can it be repaired easily, can it be recycled or sold second-hand? And finally, the material cycle, can the product be separated into a technical cycle (metals etc.) and an organic cycle (fibre etc.) Some products such as the Juice box is made of organically cardboard on the box outside while inside covered with metallic materials, try to separate it from each other, impossible. This is important as metals are toxic and only found deep underground while organic materials easily decompose.

Products evaluate differently from one country to another as the culture and social structure differentiate. Some days ago reading an interesting editorial post reflecting upon how we value and have different views of the same product. First of all is there a fair value of a product or how come prices vary from one market to another. Is there a fair product value or are the price caused by adverting, mythmaking or storytelling? We can use a pair of shoes for example. Does a pair of shoes have a different meaning or seen less valuable depending on location, culture, economic situation and social class? Is there a difference perceiving when a pair of shoes is ready for the bin? Do we pay attention to repairs, trends or do we think about it at all?

Does the brand name or style of fashion matter? Of course, the price of buying a premium fashion brand or designer jeans are high compared with the quality you actually get. In most cases, we buy brands identity rather than the actual product. Corporations use years of storytelling to set the highest price the market is willing to pay, after all, large amounts of money are used to create product meta-values invisible and abstract (do we feel better, accepted status etc.). Does it matter if it is the original and first product? The product meta-value combined with a consumer price index, how much is the consumer willing to pay? Will these indicators change in the future, does product price means more than product quality for example? Will younger people evaluate sustainable design higher than what it not?

The Waste Hirarchy 8R's Diagram (Click and Open)

  • Waste Management 8R’s
    • Product lifecycle Management operates with usually four steps. The Waste Hierarchy, in this case, asks eight questions in witch the most important question is Rethink, does I really need it? After investigating if it’s just desired or do I need it
    • Rethink
    • Recycle
    • Refuse
    • Reduce
    • Reuse
    • Repair
    • Regift
    • Recover

Most over the world people seldom can afford to buy new shoes or clothes

In the wealth or northern countries we like to talk about the thing we do not do ourselves, for example, concepts and theories on product lifecycle or waste management, nevertheless, lack the ability to understand or in reality do it. Westerners mostly do not take products apart, keep the values of metals and rorting plastic for sale etc. In the southern countries most people do not know what we are talking about, however, does it on a daily basis. In less developed or southern countries most new consumer goods are not affordable, therefore have large second-hand markets. Poor people living on less than €2 Euro per day and are happy if they find a pair of shoes in the landfills or garbage bins. The shoe product lifecycles can end or extend to next life, actually two options.

  • Firstly, go directly to landfills
  • Secondly be repaired or taken apart depending if the value of its parts can be sold to a price, for example, plastics collected and more valuable metals collected sold as raw materials.

Westerners should not talk about theories without having a real-life experience, one cannot turn theory into practical work, however, experience by doing leads to theories. One simply cannot learn a bird to fly. Therefore, my recommendations include three-week waste management by doing, for example by living three weeks in one of the many landfills of India. Most probably be an eye-opener if knowledge of toxic and hazardous materials and the impact on chronical disease of daily hazardous materials exposure. Get into the real life of Indian rag pickers.

Waste management or correctly rag picking is a significant source of income and essential for the survival of the poorest, more than 150.000 Indians lives in different landfills nearby the megacities. Rag picking has organically grown its own ecosystems mimicking nature way of doing things, decompose waste, create a value of dead objects (energy) hardly any waste as it becomes materials for new structures such as housing, water storage when raining etc. For example, Chennai is, in reality, a huge ecosystem with a worldly advantage for the poorest, 60 per cent of the waste used by the rag-pickers who earn as little as €2 Euro per day. The same as it cost to park a car for one hour in a European or American city.

Gandhi foresaw the waste problems

Gandhi quotes are many, nevertheless, my favourite quotes of them all include a philosophical and environmental view that we are responsible for our actions on an individual level. Gandhi did not only talk about it, but he also did it. Gandhi Said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. Gandhi is not only famous for his non-violence philosophy but for creating livable communities, he conquered the British Empire through boycotts, hunger strikes and other political means necessary not by violence. Maybe besides Albert Einstein Gandhi is the greatest man living in modern times because of his humanity and fearlessly and with compassion for people suffering fought injustice, racisms and class systems.

Gandhi predicted already long ago the problem of waste and pollution when he lived in London he experienced the consequences of the Industrial Revolution, he saw how fast fortune made people even greedily. Gandhi saw how polluted London and river Thames was, and understood how modern technology only was a tool to increase the speed of production, replace labour forces and a tool create and accumulate the capitalist fortune fast.

He predicted man’s transformation from spiritual to material values. Thereby, the values we really appreciate would be suffering (research has proven that humans put, for example, time spending with their family, kids and friends before increased salary) Gandhi learned the increased gap of equity between the capitalist and labour, and his view on consumerism truly a cultural jammer, Gandhi made his own clothes boycotting the British textile industry and said “that if all Indians did the same the British would have one reason less to keep India as a colony“. Gandhi sent a letter from London where he said “the biggest problem was where to store all waste in the future”

The Two Different Material Cycles (Click and Open)

Sources Information and Useful Links (Click and Open)
  • Marshall McLuhan official website Herbert Marshall McLuhan CC (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar—a professor of English literature, a literary critic, a rhetorician, and a communication theorist. McLuhan’s work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries.
  • Wikipedia Website Marshall McLuhan
  • Waste Management Recycling Website
  • Upcycle Website 100 ideas on up-cycle
  • Craftbits Website Up-cycle denim ideas
  • Crafting A Green World Website Denim bunting
  • Crafting A Green World Website Waste documentary

Check out the new Eco Fashion Dictionary with 1200 terms all illustrated

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