Editor’s letter by Lisa: Are good intentions enough?
Cause-umption rules Los Angeles. But perhaps it's better than not caring it all?
The feeling of cause-sumption is more present than ever here in Los Angeles. If it’s not plant based food at Gracias Madre or Gratitude, it’s keeping oneself trendy in organic Bassike dresses or oversized Fanmail t-shirts. Like a friend said yesterday; we take the car to buy another do-good experience.
I’m very much a part of all of this.
What was perhaps something for the progressive few, the philanthropic nature of brands are today mandatory. Brands without a manifest about sustainability? What’s up Creatures of Comfort? Us millennials except corporate do-good from the brands we associate ourselves with, and we use our spending power to load our identities. We want corporate brands not to sell things to us, but to partner with us in building our own personal brands.
Nothing exceptionally new, and this behavior makes me feel depressed at least a few times a day. Especially so, when informed choices are in fact just a cause of laziness or, at its very best, poor research skills. When buying a pair of TOMS sneakers, as a reader pointed out, is not actually doing any good, where are we then? Well we’re back at the core question of making informed choices.
And keeping oneself informed is hard, even for the ones who try. Staying with the TOMS example, some quick further research suggests that it’s not that simple. Not entirely bad or entirely good. While Bruce Wydick, who was commissioned by TOMS to make an impact study of their program, found that it had no life-changing impact on the recipients’ lives (with “recipients” being the first problem–”us” knowing what “they” need better than “they” do) he still thought of TOMS as “an organization that truly cares about what it is doing, seeks evidence-based results on its program, and is committed to re-orienting the nature of its intervention in order to maximize results”.
Is having good intentions better than having no intentions? Perhaps it contributes to sense of caring that in the end actually affects the status quo of caring?
Probably, the only goods that are entirely good are the ones you can trace yourself. The rest is just a scale of insecurities and you have to set your own boundaries. I had a discussion about alpaca the other day with a sustainability expert, in relation to Industry of all Nations. And although the brand’s alpaca project seems good in itself, the alpaca may become endangered due to climate changes, as glaciers melt and temperatures rise, which also means that the local communities producing the goods may be threatened. There are many stages to consider; the raw material, the climate, the production, the consumption, the after-life…
Did you know our name, Make it last, is just the last bit of a quote by Vivienne Westwood. The whole sentence? Buy less, choose well, make it last. And I guess that’s the point I’m making. It’s not only about choosing well, it’s also about, simply, buying less. That’s, I guess, the only simple thing in this equation.
Pictured: lovely pieces from the Bassike resort 2015 collection
We can't keep being on that next plane, says Lisa Corneliusson, who's just been on a 15 hour flight. (Life isn't easy.)
Working from TOMS in Venice today. Do you know about TOMS? It actually started out here in Venice, with the idea of giving shoes to children in need. Now TOMS work on a global level with a one to one koncept, meaning that for every purchase of TOMS products–shoes, coffee, eyewear, bags–TOMS helps provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth or bullying prevention to a person in need.
TOMS has signs on the walls saying “we’re in business to help improve lives”. And they are, actually, not the only ones. It’s all around us. Just across the street, Industry of all nations has opened a concept store. Growing organically since 2010, IOAN is “a design and development office founded with a commitment to rethink methods of production for consumer goods”. IOAN works with local communities and manufacture products in the regions where the materials originate, and then bring the local businesses to an international market. I bought a sweater from their Alpaca project, it’s made in La Paz, Bolivia with only virgin fibers, no dyes.
I spoke to my dear Space Matters colleague Aziza Azim the other day. She’s a fashion consultant focusing on new businesses, and she’s spent the last weeks in Venice too, meeting brands and others from the fashion industry. Her overall feeling being here? People don’t really care about fashion anymore. Not in itself. They want things to matter; something more holistic; something that makes sense. I think she’s right.
People want things that matter – and they want to travel. According to a new report, 87 percent new affluent consumers here in the US rather put money on traveling than on material goods. I find this uplifting; travels expand the mind. But like a fashion photographer friend told me the other day: “all this traveling, it just doesn’t make sense anymore”. We can’t keep being on that next plane all the time.
From a readable NY Times feature the other week:
“…the biggest single thing individuals can do on their own is to take fewer airplane trips; just one or two fewer plane rides per year can save as much in emissions as all the other actions combined.”
And here I am, in car-bound Los Angeles, 15 flight hours from my home.
I travel less and for longer than before, but I still take those long flights.
I how I love it. The distance gives me perspective. Yet… it’s not really a sign of perspective. (I keep thinking about my sister feeling so bad about having to go to Helsinki by air the other year.)
Life isn’t easy.
I wanted to finish off by linking to two comments on COP21 that I think are worth while:
Vice’s video reports, meeting everyone from Brandalism, Naomi Klein and different young activists with important views on the protest ban and the resistance to change. There’s obviously an irony in the encouragement from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for people to engage themselves and demand change – while civil society are not allowed to protest.
A view on COP21 as most of all a diplomatic triumph. “The only way to ensure the participation of the United States and China was to make the agreement nonbinding.” The New Yorker piece also points out, the agreement doesn’t include a tax on carbon, “which would change the financial incentives facing individual decision-makers, such as power suppliers and motorists”. I really don’t get that. More mandatory carbon taxes please.
Have a good week, take care of each other. <3
Pictured: Industry Of All Nation’s store on Abbot Kinney in Venice, Los Angeles, a pair of TOMS sunglasses, an Alpaca sweater by IOAN, a flight somewhere by Stefano Galli.
After three all-night sessions, a global climate agreement was finalized on Saturday. Some call it historic, some remain skeptical as the countries' commitments still add up to almost 3C of warming.
After three all-night sessions, a global climate agreement was finalized on Saturday. Some call it historic, some remain skeptical as the countries’ commitments still add up to almost 3C of warming. What would you say?
Some of the key points of the agreement include (also read this):
• To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.
• To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C.
• To review progress every five years.
• $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.
“No country would get all it wanted, but no country would lose all. It appeared to be the world moving in roughly the same direction.” (The Observer Sunday 13 December)
“Only elements of the Paris pact will be legally binding.” (BBC Saturday 12 December)
“What Does a Climate Deal Mean for the World?” (NY Times Sunday 13 December)
“Climate Agreement’s Success Hinges on Countries Making Painful Decisions” (The Wall Street Journal, Sunday 13 December)
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