My environment celebrates the way I and my team think: We all agree that we need to change the global apparel industry from the impasse of catastrophic pollution and social oppression to an environmentally and socially responsible industry. The impact of our industry on people and the environment is so devastating that this is the only way forward for sustainability.
But what happens when you leave this bubble. Then a differentiated picture emerges. Just two weeks ago, I heard serious doubts about sustainability in a discussion with industry colleagues. It is mainly about the price of sustainability or sustainably produced products. The critics' "quote": "At the checkout at the latest, the consumer forgets good intentions, at the checkout only money counts". An argument that is not easy to wipe off the table. In any case, an argument that must be taken very seriously.
It is difficult to argue against fears
Behind it are mostly fears. For some of them, they are existential fears. How can I, as an entrepreneur, make my supply chain fair and sustainable when my largest and most important customer, whose purchases in my company provide the majority of the contribution margins, makes his purchasing decisions 100% on the cheap price. If this very customer ensures with his orders that all my employees are employed and then also makes a profit every year, then doubts and fears are understandable and comprehensible. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
For some it is also the fear of change and probably often the fear of losing their standard of living. If I decided to live a sustainable lifestyle, it would not only mean that I would have to buy fairly produced clothing - or even less but socially and ecologically produced clothing. Wouldn't I also have to rethink my mobility? What about my beloved vacation flights? What about my hobbies and habits? What about my eating habits? Indeed, the question arises what each individual wants to change in his or her life.
And last but not least, there is the fear of loss of status among many. In the past, I have always been able to demonstrate my professional success to the outside world through symbols. There was once a chic car, great trips, constantly new fashions and many other things that we rarely thought about when we bought them, under what conditions they were manufactured and what environmental impact these things had on the environment.
Dialog is the first step
But what to do with this knowledge? First of all: listen carefully. I think we should have at least as many discussions with critics as with enthusiastic and convinced advocates of sustainability issues. Only in this way can we learn and understand. And only in this way can we create concepts that also have a real chance of bringing about sustainable change. As long as we dismiss fears and resistance as absurd, nothing will move for the better.
So if we don't seek dialogue, we run the risk that sustainability will remain a chic but toothless topic. And we continue to run the risk of not really being taken seriously.
Sustainability must become affordable
Above all, however, we must ensure that sustainability becomes an issue that everyone can afford. As long as sustainability is something that a well-heeled upper class can afford, but which confronts financially weaker people with problems, there can be no breakthrough, no satisfactory solutions. Only when sustainability is financially feasible for everyone, then the topic will have become accepted and then we will have reached our goal in the interest of this planet and the people living on it. Not an easy task - but the only meaningful goal