Written by Alexandra Palmer
As with most things in life, it can be hard to see change happening until we hit the brakes, look in the rearview mirror and see just how far we have come. From our physical and mental health, our education, our career, our romantic lives, the progress can be so granular and gradual that before we know it, we’ve arrived somewhere completely unexpected.
And with the future being, well, unpredictable, it’s only when we reflect on the past that we understand the context and the ever changing landscape of our journey. So with the rise of an increasingly concerned and conscious society, we are curious — why did Generation Z start shopping sustainably?
AUTHENTICITY IS KEY
It can be hard to contemplate a world where supermarkets handed out single-use plastic bags all day, every day - 7.6 billion bags to be accurate - and we washed our faces with tiny plastic beads. But the carrier bag charge and the worldwide ban on microbeads are just some of the landmarks along the path towards a more sustainable future. And for many members of Gen Z or IGen as Psychology professor and author Jean Twenge described them, it can be difficult to imagine such a careless attitude towards the environment.
But where did this change in attitude begin? Throw back to the days of oversized fringes, vampire slayers called ‘Buffy’ and countless crimes against fashion (double denim anyone?) a new generation were learning to walk, talk and operate touchscreen technology. Natives to the digital era, noughties babies were the first generation to grow up in a world where the internet was not just a part of life but a way of life. They are often considered to be more in tune with the filtered reality of the internet and have grown to seek more authentic relationships and experiences from the digital world than the generation before them.
DO GEN Z JUST CARE MORE?
According to Depop x Bain Companys 2020 report Futureproof: How Gen Z’s Empathy, Awareness and Fluidity are Transforming Business as Usual the widespread volatility and uncertainty of the new millennium has made an imprint on the way in which this generation view the world around them, both in the physical and digital space, making them more receptive and understanding of transient concepts. “For them, it’s not about this or that, but rather, this and that.”
This empathetic mindset extends to the wider ecosystemic issues such as climate change, recessions, and even the political state of play. ‘Gen Z is more vulnerable to macro level uncertainties within a digitally charged globalised economy and are aware of the effects these stresses have on inherent human vulnerabilities.’
It’s no wonder then, that members of this generation are more concerned about connecting with authentic brands with values true to their own, than achieving the status associated with mainstream companies and exclusive designers who perhaps prioritise profit over the planet.
“The exorbitant amount of waste generated in the fashion industry inspired Fanfare Label to represent the circular economy standard; the label is a representative of what fashion could & should look like.” - Fanfare
Recognising the need and desire for sustainable choices across all areas of life and the consumer power of Gen Z, a revolution is underway with environmentally friendly brands taking a stand against issues such as global warming, plastic waste, fast fashion, pollution, deforestation and exploitation of natural resources.
BRANDS WHO TAKE A STAND COME OUT ON TOP
The demand for second hand, preloved and upcycled goods has been fuelled by the Gen Z protest against unsustainable practices. Platforms like Depop and Vinted have created community based marketplaces designed to extend the lives of the clothes we wear and to slow the fashion industry down.
Brands like Fanfare and Pantee are leading the charge and setting the standard in sustainability that the fashion industry should aspire to. “Fanfare is leading the upcycling movement, transforming vintage pieces to unique contemporary designs, combining elements of vintage & surplus clothing by giving existing materials a new life through various textile techniques.”
Whereas Pantee repurpose deadstock t-shirts into beautifully comfortable underwear. Why? Here’s why:
- 2,700 litres of water goes into one cotton t-shirt
- 30% of all garments made in a year are never sold (deadstock)
- Less than 1% of all clothing materials are recycled into new garments
- Upcycling clothes and extending the life of a garment by 9 months reduces its carbon, water and waste footprints by 20-30%
And it’s not just the fashion industry. Thanks to Gen Z eco friendly brands are leading the way in the beauty, food & drink and homeware industries too. Just look at Upcircle, the pioneering beauty and skincare brand that decided to do something about the amount of coffee grounds discarded by London coffee shops, repurposing it into sustainable, natural skincare products.
So Generation Z may have fuelled the fire but sustainability looks hot on everyone. On the hunt for more brands to discover? Here are just some of the planet-friendly brands you can explore on Hibana:
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