A Pledge to Sustainable Storytelling

What to expect and challenge in an era of greenwashing

From growing cynicism about overconsumption to greenwashing that hurts more than it helps, the state of “sustainable” fashion makes it clear that we need a reimagination of how we talk about sustainability. How can storytellers challenge and accelerate the narrative of sustainability, this Earth Month and beyond? Enter a new era of storytelling ethics. 

Below is a pledge to sustainable storytelling, an Incomplete Manifesto, for brands and creators alike.

  1. We will not propagate the false idea of “must-haves”

Social media has warped our understanding of how much we really need, and scarcity mindset marketing has contributed to making us feel as though consumption will make us whole. 

We will challenge notions of “must-have” products, and champion an ethos of fewer, better instead.

2. We will not sell the revolution. Sustainability is embodied, not bought 

It’s not the product itself that will change the world, but rather, reimagining how we can honor the practices that underpin how a product is made — from the land it comes from to the labor behind the label. We will honor the craft and cultures behind the things we consume. 

3. We will question claims of “green,” “ethical” and “sustainable” 

It’s high time we show, not tell. We will do the work to explain what our sustainability approaches mean in practice.

We will seek claims that are verified by an external party or audit, so consumers can know that a third party has reviewed the business and its products against a vetted standard.

4. We will seek a holistic approach to sustainability 

Sustainability is an umbrella term, but it should always look to consider the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. While environmental impacts are often a key focus, we will seek businesses that are thinking about their impact on people, not just the planet.

5. We will challenge disposability culture 

Mindless consumption has made way for a single-use approach when it comes to the things we consume.

We will design and purchase with maximum wear in mind, and extend the lives of the things we own through care and repair.

6. We will champion education, not just push product 

More than ever, storytellers have a responsibility to push literacy around sustainability. As brands and creators, we commit to serving as agents for climate action. 

About the Author

For the last decade, Aditi’s work has explored the intersections of style, sustainability, and social justice. The overconsumption of fashion on the internet prompted her own journey as a sustainable fashion activist. She wanted to subvert the idea of the fashion influencer by focusing on wider issues, covering social and environmental justice in fashion. 

Since then, an entire wave of sustainability champions has emerged, challenging the traditional idea of the influencer that has often fed an aspirational image rooted in unsustainability. In her latest piece for Vogue, Aditi spoke on the importance of deinfluencing– and how the cultural zeitgeist is seeing a growing response to mindless consumption. 

She hopes to challenge the role that brands and creators have traditionally played in the fashion arena, galvanizing all actors as agents for climate action. 

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