Changing mind-set, not closets

Local | 14 Sep 2017

Despite all the negative press about pollution and air quality in China, the country is leading the way in sustainable development.

It is clear about the facts that if it wants to be a leading country in the centuries to come, it needs to focus on keeping its environment and citizens healthy.

China is already widely recognized as the largest investor in domestic renewable energy, investing US$102 billion (HK$795.6 billion) in 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance - more than double that invested domestically by the United States and about five times that of the UK.

What will this mean for the fashion trade, which is widely cited as the most polluting industry after oil? Given China remains the world's top apparel sourcing destination, it has a fair say on the matter.

Perceptions on Made in China have shifted in the past decade, with ethical fashion labels such as Everlane and Grana sourcing their production from China and being transparent about their factories decent working environment and worker wages.

But what more can we as consumers do aside from supporting these labels?

The Fashion Law website recently published a pyramid graph to show practical ways of building an ethical closet on any budget ranging from treasuring and re-wearing what we already own to supporting ethical brands at the top level.

To truly carry out the rules laid out by this graph it takes convincing people that they need not want to wear a different outfit every day, or that there is a stigma to buying secondhand (as popular as this is in some countries, the concept is still foreign and unthinkable to some locally).

This graphic appeals to us for a change of mind-set - something my father warned me about since I was a child: don't hope to change people's minds. He didn't say it was impossible, he just said it would be very difficult. Changing yourself is easier.

What I know is that to combat climate change, one or both of the following things need to change our mind-set (which also dictates our economic system and government regulations), or the laws of nature.

I can at least tell him I didn't pick the impossible.

Gloria Yu is an artist, designer and citizen of the world.

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