Well, Trump is now US president and for anyone concerned about climate change, women’s rights and equality, the reality of the situation has hit home with a hefty dose of uncertainty about what it all means. The fact that within minutes of his inauguration climate change had been removed from the White House website as a major area of policy gives a chilling indication of where things are headed.
As the founder of an online store whose reason for being is to promote brands that protect the environment, support the disadvantaged and stand up for equality and fairness I have to say my outlook since Trump’s election triumph has been pretty bleak. Everything we stand up for was being at best undermined at worst under attack. And worse still it felt that attack was being sanctioned by the US electorate. I had the same sad feeling immediately after the election that I felt the morning after the Brexit vote, the same sad feeling I feel every time I read a hate-filled, xenophobic headline in the UK press or listen to a pundit belittling the importance of climate change on the radio.
What should the response be for a small business like ours to a worrying shift that isn’t just on a different page, but that seems to be speaking a totally different language? After a lot of soul searching and and several conversations with disheartened colleagues the conclusion we have come to is this: chin up and double our efforts. We know that increasing numbers of consumers share our values and want their product choices to reflect them. It is down to us to make the choice and easy and attractive one.
For us the most worrying aspect of what lies ahead is the issue of climate change. President Elect Trump has implied that the problem doesn’t exit, that it has been fabricated by China and that he would like to remove the USA’s involvement in the Paris Climate Change Agreement. He is ignoring climate specialists all over the world and clear fact that human actions have caused the warming of the earth’s temperature by 1 degree in the past century alone. Last year, at the time of the Paris Climate Conference we wrote a piece entitled Fashion and Climate Change. It is one of our most popular editorial features to date which indicates just how much this topic matters to our customers.
Fashion has a huge impact on the environment – in fact it is the second most polluting industry after oil. As an industry we need to face facts and do something about it. Never has this been more critical than now we are faced with a Trump administration. The outcome of the vote might not have been what the we wanted but the way to stand up to policies that we don’t agree with is to stand up even more ferociously for the values that we do believe in. So if Trump is going to follow a policy that endangers the environment we must make choices in our every day lives that protect it, starting with our fashion choices. By carefully considering our purchases, recycling, repairing and also by choosing, organic and sustainably produced clothing we can make a difference. Take organic vs non organic cotton for example – a study of organic cotton in one region of India, commissioned by PUMA found a 40% reduction in global warming potential, 72% lower primary energy demand, and lower water consumption. Not only that, the farmers and workers involved in production are not exposed to the harmful chemicals that regular cotton growing demands.
Image: piyaset via Getty Images