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Fashion Deep Dive: Shein

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

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Welcome to the first instalment of my new blog series Fashion Deep Dive, where I delve into the details of mainstream fashion brands looking at their histories, their human rights violations and any other cobwebs they might have hidden away in their cupboards. 

 

First on my hit-list is Shein, the Chinese brand that has risen rapidly in prominence in recent years and is now practically infamous – for all the reasons I will be discussing.  



The brand was founded 2008 in Nanjing, China by Chris Xu (who is thought to be a billionaire and doesn’t give interviews), and was originally called SheInside. Not quite as snappy as Shein I think you’ll agree. However, the original name nevertheless shows the brand’s aims and core ideal customer base: to make young women believe they are in a trendy exclusive club by buying more and more of their clothes. The app’s 7 million users per month and 160% surge in sales in January and June 2021 certainly show that that marketing is working. The brand officially became Shein in 2015 and now includes the brand Romwe as a subsidiary company. 

 

Shein have a history of opaque business practices, from the elusiveness of its CEO to the details of its supply chain. There is very little information about the people who make Shein’s clothes, which usually is a sign they are treated very poorly.The brand received 0 points in Remake’s Sustainability Assessment, which looks in-depth at a range of factors including worker welfare, sustainability of garments, transparency, and diversity of higher level staff. It’s pretty impressive to score absolutely nothing, and Shein trump even Boohoo who received 5 points. 

 

Shein is perhaps the prime example of ultra-fast fashion. On their website, they list 500 – 2,000 items listed every day and the time between the ‘design’ (read: theft) and  shipping to be as little as 3 days. That is ridiculously damaging on so many levels. The sheer amount of new clothing listed on their website every day is frankly nauseating. Think of the number of sizes for one item and the number of each they will have. That’s most likely tens of thousands of garments in total – mostly made out of polyester (aka plastic aka fossil fuels). With such a quick turnaround and at such cheap prices, you can almost guarantee that the (majority women) workers who made these clothes are not paid a living wage and are probably treated quite badly in order to get the clothes out in time (you can find out more about some of the things that occur in fast fashion factories in this blog post). Shein were one of the brands highlighted by Reuters in August 2021 for not making the relevant suppl chain disclosures in relation to the Modern Slavery Act.

 

Shein have made a series of very bad product design decisions. I genuinely don’t understand how these got the okay to be manufactured. For instance, in summer 2020 they tried pass off an Islamic prayer mat as a ‘decorative Greek rug’, completely disregarding the religious significance an connotations of these designs. At around the same time (the same week if I remember correctly), they also listed a swastika necklace. They later took it down and claimed that they used the original Buddhist symbol. In either case it’s not particularly great – trivialising and commercialising a religious symbol or a deeply fascist, anti-semitic, homophobic, racist etc. one. Neither is good, Shein. 

 

In May 2021, they released a phone case with the image of a handcuffed Black man outlined in white chalk on the back. Shein are using products using insensitive images, symbols, and cultural/religious items, created on the back of exploitation of mostly black and brown women purely to increase their own profit. 

 

Shein is perhaps most well-known for its regular theft of designs from small independent businesses and designers – ones that are much more ethical and sustainable than Shein themselves. The issue of design theft has been a huge issue with Shein for several years now, kicking off with a lawsuit filed against them by Levi Strauss & Co for using a trademarked jean stitching in 2018. It now seems like every week a new brand is stolen from and they are frequently owned by Black women. Brands they have stolen from include:

 

 

It feels needless to say that stealing from other brands at any time is obviously bad - however, it becomes even more so when these designs by small ethical and sustainable businesses often owned by marginalised people are stolen so openly by a brand that has never shown any evidence that it cares about its workers and mass produces these carefully crafted ideas with the sole aim of creating profit for its billionaire CEO. These tactics push small ethical and sustainable brands out of businesses, leaving the international fast fashion conglomerates with a monopoly on the fashion market – something that is good for neither their workers or the environment. 

 

Shein have hit the headlines in recent weeks for their new series airing this year where designers compete to win $100,000. A slight kick in the teeth considering Shein have been stealing from independent designers for years. Judges include Khloe Kardashian and designers such as Christian Siriano and Jenna Lyons. Big names adding further legitimacy to system of fashion reliant on exploitation and destruction of marginalised people and planet. It’s not something I’m particularly keen to watch.

 

More recently have stepped into the greenwashing arena with their new eco-line Shein Cares. The word ‘cares’ seems to be the it thing for brands who are super unethical trying to trick the public into thinking they give a damn about the environment (workers are normally left out of these campaigns altogether). Through their Wild Heart Collection, Shein raises money for animal conservation charities such as IFAW and various wildlife reserves in Singapore, but completely fails to recognise the role their overproduction has in damaging the animals they are supposedly aiming to protect. Shein’s campaign has been featured by various well known (and mostly rich, white, thin and straight) influencers who have highlighted what massive tree-huggers Shein apparently are with absolutely zero mention of their workers and supply chain. On their website they state that they will be donating $300,000 to animal welfare organisations as part of this campaign – a drop in the ocean of their estimated $10 billion annual revenue. Given everything we do and don’t know about Shein, these claims are undoubtedly lies made up for marketing purposes. These eco-lines never have good intentions and usually make up a small percentage of brands’ total production.  

 

Similarly, Shein claim to use factories that are ISO certified but ISO don’t actually certified brands. The ISO develop international standards but don’t certify brands themselves. This is deliberately misleading their customers. For more information on Shein’s vagueness about their supply chain vs the actual facts, make sure to read Remake’s article on them from earlier this year. 

 

Shein are the prime example of everything we need to move away from in order to make the fashion industry better everyone. They may claim to care but they do not give a single sh*t about their workers, the environment, designers, or even the animals they are seemingly so desperate to protect. They are a company built on lies, theft, and exploitation.



If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa


If you liked this post you might like: What To Do With Your Old Clothes

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5 Quick Ways To Learn About Fast Fashion When You Don't Have Much Time

Friday, 17 September 2021

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The fashion industry is complex, often a bit murky and it can be difficult to figure out exactly what’s what. Many of us also don’t have the time to learn loads about the industry because it’s so complex and there’s so much information out there. I know I didn’t get the level of knowledge I have now until the pandemic, finishing my second year of uni and furlough combined so that I had literally all the time in the world to research this topic that I had previously only really dabbled in outside of changing up my own shopping habits. Time is a massive privilege, and one that doesn’t get talked about much. But never fear! This post aims to help you find ways to learn about the fashion industry in smaller doses. They’re things that you can do little but often so that eventually you’ll be able to answer the question ‘what’s so bad about fast fashion?’ with informed confidence. I hope these are useful and remember to check out my other blog posts for more quick bits of information on this overwhelming issue. 



1. Follow activists and organisations on social media


Social media may be complicated but is useful in some respects. As an issue not frequently covered by mainstream media, you often have to go out of your way to look for updates on the fashion industry. By following NGOs, trade unions, and reliable individuals (campaigners, Remake ambassadors, etc.), you can have that information almost handed to you. I know I’ve learned so much about the fashion industry through posts on social media which have then prompted me to learn elsewhere. Social media has a huge role in ethical and sustainable fashion activism, especially since the pandemic. We now have direct access to contact brands and talk directly with other customers of those brands. This is only exemplified by the successes of the #PayUp campaign which was conducted completely virtually and the pressure it put on brands resulting in the recovery of over $22 billion worth of garment workers’ wages previously withheld at the beginning of the pandemic. 

 

Some of the accounts I’ve learned most from are Remake, Aja Barber, Venetia La Manna, Zainab Mahmood, Clean Clothes Campaign, Labour Behind the Label, Awaj Foundation, and Nothing to Hide (and you can follow me while you’re at it!). Of course there are many more but these are ones you should be following if you want to learn about labour rights and environmental issues in the fashion industry! 

 

Social media is limited though. It’s a starting point, and that’s how I think it should be treated for social issues. Make sure you’re also looking elsewhere and having nuanced conversations that just aren’t able to occur in social media spaces. 


2. Listen to podcast


There are lots of amazing podcasts out there discussing what’s wrong about the fashion industry and the people who are trying to make it better. From Remember Who Made Them to Common Threads and the Fashion Fix, there’ll be a fashion podcast out there to suit you! I love listening to podcasts while I’m running, while doing housework, while cooking, and just generally whenever I have any time when I could be listening to something, I’ll probably be listening to a podcast. They’re a great way to learn new things while on the go!


3. Listen to audiobooks


Like podcasts but in longer form! As you can maybe tell by the title of my blog, I love books and love to recommend books. There are several incredible books by experts in the ethical fashion field, from Loved Clothes Last by Orsola de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution, to Stitched Up by Tansy Hoskins, and more recently Consumed by the always incredible Aja Barber which is out very soon (I cannot wait for my copy to arrive!), you have a wealth of books to choose from. While physical books needed dedicated time and attention, you can listen to audiobooks on your commute, while doing the washing up, or even on a pop to the shops, audiobooks are a great way of reading more and therefore learning more. It’s a win-win really. 


4. Sign up to informative newsletters


Unsubscribe from the emails you may receive from fast fashion brands and replace those with the newsletters of small slow fashion brands doing good things, of campaigners, journalists, and organisations working to make the industry a better place. Like on social media, once you’ve subscribed this information will just be handed to you. Some newsletters I recommend include ones by Remake, Besma Whayeb, and Mel Watt. I would particularly recommend Aja Barber’s newsletter and her Patreon articles and updates. She’s someone myself and loads of other people learn a whole lot from and she never misses a beat. 


5. Watch short documentary films


Documentaries are so impactful. They shorten the distance between the consumer and the maker of clothes and have the potential to reveal so much to us. Perhaps the most famous fashion documentary is The True Cost, but since it was taken off Netflix it’s difficult to find for free so may be inaccessible for a lot of people. If you can afford it though, I would highly recommend you pay for a DVD or a download as it is a game-changer. 

 

There are many others available for free and which are quite short but still filled with a lot of information and emotion. 

 

Of course I will never not mention Remake! Remake have many incredible films on these issues within the fashion supply chain that highlight and uplift the voices of garment workers. I would particularly recommend the ‘Made in’ Series in addition to some of the recordings of Remake’s monthly Community Calls, where we hear from experts in the industry, union leaders, academics, updates on Remake campaigns, and sometimes from garment workers themselves. The episodes of the ‘Made in’ series are super short (some are literally two minutes long, I think the longest is about 10 or 15 minutes) so are really easily slotted into a busy day. You could watch one on a tea break!


Mikaela Loach also has a new three-part documentary series on the fashion industry called ReDress the Future. I haven't watched this yet but it looks incredible and each episode is only 15 minutes long so definitely check that one out too.

 

For more documentaries, check out the list included in my Fast Fashion 101 Resource Doc.



If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa


If you liked this post you might like: What To Do With Your Old Clothes



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August 2021 | Monthly Wrap Up

Monday, 30 August 2021

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July was my month to relax, chill, and read lots of books. August has been a bit busier. 



Favourite part?

 

Genuinely seeing more of my friends and meeting new people. I’d forgotten how much energy I get from other people, even if I do desperately need my time alone. It’s just so lovely to do simple things like having food together and have the spontaneous conversations that happen when you’re in-person compared to virtually. I’m now also making more of an effort to go to the beach more often seeing as I do live pretty close to the coast. Swimming in the sea boosts my mood and energy so much and I need to make the most of the access I have to the seaside. 

 

After nearly 18 months, N.E.S.T was finally able to do in-person volunteering, sorting through donations to make into care packs for asylum seekers from Afghanistan. We are still looking for donations, both physical and financial. All details on how to support if you can is in this post, any support you’re able to give is so appreciated! 



I joined Green New Deal Rising this month and completed my first MP challenge with them, talking with Kate Osborne MP about the bill that’s going to Parliament in September. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to do more. It was such a great thing to do with one of my friends and with some amazing people I got to meet on the day. If you’re interested in getting involved with GNDR, check out their website and social media, and come along to one of their Welcome Calls which happen every Wednesday at 6pm



I got fully vaccinated! It’s honestly such a relief and I’m so glad I was able to move up my second appointment by a few weeks. If you haven’t had yours yet, go and see where are offering doses near you. 

 

I have two new articles out this month! The first was published by Remake and looked at the new trend of unethical fashion brands co-opting the language of slow fashion/activist spaces to greenwash potential customers, particularly Boohoo. The second was published in Fem Legal’s first online booklet and looked at fashion brands’ feminist images vs their actions in regard to the Bangladesh Accord


 

Best read?

 

At the beginning of the month I read The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I watched the film adaptation a while ago and enjoyed it, so finally got around to reading the book. 

 

Since I’ve been back in Newcastle I’ve been slowly reading Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy by Hallie Lieberman and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. 


 

Favourite listen?


I’ve been listening to Fearless (Taylor’s Version) on repeat this month, especially Today Was a Fairytale and Mr. Perfectly Fine. Just wait until Red (Taylor’s Version) comes out in November. I will be unstoppable. 

 

I’ve also been loving Maisie Peters’ new album, You Signed Up for This. It’s full of absolute bops. 


Image source
 

Favourite watch?

 

My old favourite Ghosts had a new series out, and of course it was such a good watch. Ghosts will never fail to feel like a hug in a show. 

 

I also watched The Kominsky Method after being recommended it by my parents, and it is absolutely beautiful and hilarious at the same time – and Norman is definitely my favourite character!

 

Along with this year’s series of Love Island which I only watched parts of, I have also been rewatching series five and two. I’ve also rewatched the first few series of Grey’s Anatomy, because you know, it’s always time for a rewatch of Grey’s.


Image source

 

What did I learn?

 

It’s weird spontaneous socialising can be a thing again but I do still enjoy being around new people!

 

I seriously need to be in the sea more. Like damn, I feel so much better after a sea swim.

 

What’s happening next month?


I’ll be moving house and officially start my Master’s! I’m genuinely so excited to have a new space to decorate! 

 

What’s been on my mind?


What the next few months of my life are going to look like, how to take action on key issues (particularly climate change) and how to mobilise others too.

 

Favourite post?

 

My favourite post this month has definitely been 25 Climate Actions To Take After the IPCC Report. I’ve been in slight panic mode recently, understandably as half the world is burning and the other half is under water. I hope this post can act as almost a resource to encourage people reading to take on specific actions to tackle the climate crisis. 

 

I also like my post about greenwashing and woke-washing. I’m really enjoying my Slow Fashion Simplified series and I hope it’s useful! 


 

Biggest inspiration?


Being able to see friends again! I forgot how much energy I do get from being around my pals. Don’t get me wrong, my alone time will always be severely needed, but I’ve missed just being able to casually spend time with friends.

 

Any other favourites?

 

I have been eating a lot of pak choi and leeks fried in non-dairy butter and garlic lately, and it’s the absolute best. I tried it first with a Chinese takeaway with my family before I came back to Newcastle and now I’m obsessed. Try it, you won’t be disappointed. 

 

I have also been absolutely loving my new Golden Pothos which I bought from my friend Will’s small business, Stems n Shoots. It brings me so much joy and I love having it hanging from my mirror. 



If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa


If you liked this post you might like: July 2021 | Monthly Wrap Up

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What Do We Mean by Greenwashing and Woke-Washing? | SFS #2

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

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Welcome to the second instalment in my series Slow Fashion Simplified, where I break down all the different terms in conversations around ethical and sustainable fashion. Today, I'll be looking at the terms greenwashing and woke-washing.

Greenwashing is a term that is used a lot by ethical and sustainable fashion campaigners, particularly when calling out brands. I know I use it a lot myself, but it can be confusing why something is labeled as greenwashing if you’re not an expert. Sometimes it can be blatant, sometimes it can be a lot subtler and more cleverly done. Woke-washing is used in a similar way, but how is it different from greenwashing? Hopefully this hope will help you crack the greenwashing and woke-washing codes! 



What is greenwashing?


The term ‘greenwashing’ was coined in 1986 by Jay Westerveld in an essay about how hotels encourage their customers to reuse their towels, and it essentially means that a company spends more on the marketing of its products as sustainable than on actually making their products sustainable. This is something that crops up time and time again and seems to be getting worse in recent years and months as a consumer awareness of the climate crisis rises. Obviously, greenwashing didn’t just spring into existence in 1986, it has been around for practically as long as we have known about climate change and global warming. Now it’s more prevalent than ever as the climate crisis is getting steadily worse and brands want to avoid accountability for their part in causing it. 

 

In terms of fast fashion, this often takes the form of brands who produce thousands if not millions of garments every month and who barely pay their workers showing off their ‘sustainable credentials’ with recycled polyester and organic cotton eco-collections. They say they are aiming for more sustainable fabrics by 2025/2030 but don’t tell us any information on what those fabrics actually are, what percentage is ‘more’, where they’re sourcing those fabrics or who grew and harvested them. They also won’t mention anything about paying their (mostly women) garment workers a living wage, improving their working conditions, and ensuring that garment workers are part of their policy-making. They won’t mention them because they don’t do them and that is bad PR and doesn’t fit with their goal ‘sustainable’ image because it’s not f*ckng sustainable.

 

It seems like there’s a new case of greenwashing every day lately, and there are some horrific cases out there. Boohoo are even trying to kid us that they give a single sh*t about the environment – seriously? 

 

Probably the most notorious example of greenwashing in the fashion industry however, is H&M. In 2012 they launched their ‘Conscious’ Collection', which aimed to provide consumers with more ethical and sustainable options. This collection has nearly been running for a decade, and yet the only thing that actually seems sustainable about it is that it’s made out of organic cotton, and even that’s not as sustainable as brands like to make it out to be. This collection has been growing to include more and more products each year, the opposite of what is actually needed from a sustainable business: degrowth. There is also no evidence they pay their workers a living wage, they have a history of sexual and gender-based violence in their supply chain, and have yet to renew the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Safety. In their latest campaign, H&M have been using the child climate activists to appropriate their image and have good results show when someone searches the terms ‘H&M’ and ‘activists’ on Google rather than all of the campaigns against them. 


Image source

But green- and woke-washing are not exclusive to the fashion industry, far from it. Companies like Shell and Amazon are always coming up on my TV with adverts proclaiming how much they’re doing to tackle the climate crisis and develop renewable energy sources, when one is trying to build a new oil field off the coast of Scotland and the other is sending its CEO into space for a 10-minute joy ride

 

Governments are also offenders in both of these means of lying. Take the UK Government for example. They claim to be a world leader when it comes to tackling the climate crisis and even though they’re set to approve a new oil field (the one proposed by Shell) and our Prime Minister flew from London to Cornwall for a conference on climate change. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, which is set to approve Cambo (that new oil field I keep banging on about), has also been releasing a series of paid-for/promoted tweets highlighting sustainable businesses. Maybe Stop Cambo first yeah? 

 

For more greenwashing campaigns currently trying to hold the wool over your eyes, check out this blog post


What about woke-washing?


Woke-washing, sometimes also known as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) -washing, has become a more popular term in recent years, highlighting similar issues to greenwashing. Instead of brands marketing themselves as supposedly eco-conscious, woke-washing is when a brand markets themselves as a company with a social conscience but doesn’t follow through with the actions to back it up. I kind of wish there was a better name for it, as the word 'woke' has been appropriated from its original meanings/use by Black communities, and is now used in a very cringey way but a lot of white mainstream media. This is the phrase currently popular for describing when brands are lying about their social impact, but CSR-washing is definitely more appropriate for a lot of people to use, and certainly important to acknowledge the trend of brands lying about their part in social justice movements. 

 

Every social issue you can think of has probably been milked to within an inch of its life by almost every fashion brand out there. You have the classic fast fashion ‘feminist’ t-shirts but who pay their largely female workforce poverty wages, the brands which have rainbows everywhere possible during Pride but don’t do anything for the LGBTQ+ workers in their supply chain (check out Who Made My Pride Merch for more on the rights of LGBTQ+ garment workers), and the brands who posted black squares during summer 2020 but have done nothing to restructure their supply chains or head offices to empower people from minoritised ethnicities. 


Image source

Think of the Black Lives Matter t-shirts brands like In The Style brought out last summer. These are a prime example of woke-washing. In The Style made these t-shirts incredibly quickly after George Floyd’s death so that it was incredibly unlikely they were manufactured ethically. Despite these t-shirts making it seem as if In The Style want to dismantle white supremacy, that argument is void wen their entire business model is based on the exploitation of black and brown women.  

 

Similarly, the term ‘GirlBoss’ was popularised by NastyGal founder Sophia Amoruso – suggesting the brand is the pinnacle of feminism! Over the years, NastyGal has had several lawsuits against them for discrimination against pregnant workers, and in 2017 the brand was taken over by the Boohoo Group, a company renowned for their mistreatment of workers and high levels or production. Not sure Sophia Amoruso is the feminist icon she thinks she is. 

 

When it boils down to it, greenwashing and woke-washing just means lying. Brands lie to us all the time to make us think they are better than they are so we will be more likely to give them our money. But unluckily for them, we can see past the bullsh*t. 




If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa


If you liked this post you might like: 5 Greenwashing Campaigns Trying to Fool You

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25 Ways to Take Climate Action After the IPCC Report

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

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Climate news is incredibly overwhelming right now. All regions of the Earth are either burning or flooding right now, at rates we’ve never seen before. The IPCC report that came out last week only confirmed everything we already knew, but with all of that information in one place combined with the events of this year, it impresses the situation more urgently on us. We all need to be taking action in whatever capacity we can. Here are 25 things you could be doing to help tackle the climate crisis. These aren’t necessarily things that are accessible to everyone, but the point is to do whatever you can. Maybe pick 3-5 to know that you can do and commit to ensuring you do them. Many of the actions I have included on this list aren’t things that should be done once and forgotten about once you’ve given yourself a pat on the back. Make sure you’re continuously doing things and make that as easy for yourself to do (however that may be). The important thing is that we all do something.


 

1. Sign the Stop Cambo open letter (UK)

 

Oil giant Shell are currently trying to seek approval from the UK Government to build a new oil field off the coast of Shetland - as you might have guessed, the field would be called Cambo. These plans are currently going ahead, with apparent approval by the Government (despite claims of ignorance by the Prime Minister). It is expected to extract up to 170 million barrels of oil from 2025-2050. 2050 is the year the UK has pledged to be net carbon neutral. This proposal goes against all the environmental pledges the UK has made, including its signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 and declaring a climate emergency in 2019. If Cambo went ahead, it would be catastrophic. 

 

Check out all the links in their linktree, which contains loads of information, resources, and ways to take action. These include the open letter, emailing representatives, and joining protests. 



2. Email your MPs

 

This one gets brought up all the time but honestly, if you have political representatives you need to be communicating with them. They are the ones with the potential for influence and to make larger impacts, let them know you want them to act and act now. Email them constantly, badger them, hold them to account and fill their inboxes. They should being doing more, they should be doing better – they need to be doing better.

 

If you’re not sure what to do or how to contact your MP, you can check out the websites Write to Them for their contact details (as well as those of your councilors), and They Work For You for their voting records and previous offices held.

 

3. Support the Stop Line 3 Campaign (USA)

 

Over the years there have been many, often and frustratingly successful, attempts to build new or expanded oil pipelines through indigenous lands in North America. You might have heard about the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines in this context? Well the new pipeline on the block is Line 3, which is proposed to run from the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada through to Wisconsin, USA. In the same vein as Cambo, we cannot be extracting any more fossil fuels. This needs to stop urgently – it needs to have stopped already. 

 

Head to their Instagram and campaign website for ways to get involved. 

 

4. Join Green New Deal Rising

 

Green New Deal Rising are a youth campaigning group aiming for the implementation of a Green New Deal in the UK. It’s aims are: to decarbonise, fast; jobs and a just transition; transform the economy; protect and restore; and to promote global justice. For more detail on all of these points and what they entail, they included detailed explanations on their website

 

Their strategies are to disrupt the political system, force politicians to choose a side (cough, Keir Starmer, cough) reach out into our communities, and to elect inspiring green new deal champions. They have already been doing this, with amazing work holding politicians like Nicola Sturgeon and Keir Starmer to account and challenging them directly in-person on issues such as Stop Cambo and the Green New Deal. 

 

It’s free to sign up and they have regular welcome calls to help get you involved. And you don’t have to be a young person to get involved with the campaign for a Green New Deal – have a look here for ways to get involved. 


Image source


5. Donate to get Unite for Climate Action to COP26

 

Unite for Climate Action are a group of young people from Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe, who have been either directly or indirectly affected climate change trying to get to COP26. These are the people we need at the decision-making table. They need to be at the heart of the discussions and to be leading the way in strategies to tackle this crisis. 

 

Unite for Climate Action are aiming to change whose voices are heard at COP26, as previously most young people at these international conferences have been from the Global North – not representative of the people who are most affected by the climate crisis. They are also starting a new educational series which I for one am looking forward to taking part in – knowledge is key to tackling the climate crisis! 

 

They need £70,000 to get to COP26. If you can please support them to get there.  

 

6. Turn up to protests in your local area

 

Direct action has been proven to work time and time again throughout the years with so many different causes. In fact I don’t think you can say any cause has achieved anything without the use of direct action, in whatever form. Protest and direction are crucial to tackling the climate crisis and ensuring governments listen. Countries like the UK claim to be democracies but fail to act when citizens call for change. We must make them listen and act. Join in wherever and however you can. 

 

Before Covid you would regularly see protests in city centres on all sorts of issues, particularly the climate crisis. These included the regular Friday school strikes started by Greta Thunberg. Now, they’re a bit rarer but still happening. Covid has still changed things – I would frequently turn up to protests before Covid but haven’t attended one since the pandemic as it’s a prospect that’s still pretty terrifying to me – even though I am hoping to be able to attend protests in a few months depending on case levels. If your mental health and capacity to other actions will be compromised through being around a large group of people, skip this and focus on other ways to make change. But still support protestors, stand up for the right to protest whenever it is under threat (as it is in many countries all over the world, including the UK), and attend whenever it is accessible for you to do so. 


 

7. Demand fashion brands sign the Bangladesh Accord

 

On 24th April 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, killing +1,330 people and injuring over 2,500. It was the worst industrial disaster the fashion industry had ever experienced. In its aftermath, over 200 brands, along with several workers’ organisations and trade unions, signed the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. The Accord is legally binding and ensures basic health and safety measures in garment factories in Bangladesh. It is huge and makes real impact on the welfare of garment workers. It is the bare minimum and it is also under threat. 

 

The Accord is due to expire on 31st August, and the progress we have seen since Rana Plaza could go down the drain. Workers’ rights and the environment are intrinsically linked, and garment workers deserve to know they are safe in their workplaces. So far, only 12 brands have committed to renewing the Accord. That’s an unacceptable number. Brands who still refuse to renew the Accord include H&M, Zara, Primark, American Eagle, M&S, Aldi, Matalan and a whole load more. 

 

To take action, tag them in social media posts, comment on their social media posts about it, and send them emails directly asking why they haven’t renewed the Accord. For more information and ways to take action, head to Remake and Clean Clothes Campaign

 

8. Donate to Choose Earth

 

Choose Earth is an offshoot campaign from Earthrise and Choose Love – an organisation you’ve probably heard about who do loads of amazing work with displaced people. Choose Earth however raises funds specifically for indigenous Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Brazil. It’s a great way to directly support those on the front lines of climate change, and those who know how best to take care of the Earth and to live in harmony with it. Head to the Choose Earth website to donate as well as to find more educational resources on the climate and indignenous rights. 


 

9. Talk to the people around you about the issue

 

While everyone is somewhat aware of the climate crisis, I don’t think everyone truly gets how far it has gone and how much needs to be done to lessen its damage. Talk about it to literally everyone – friends, family, flatmates, grandparents, a random person in a coffee shop, on a first date, teachers, students, anyone and everyone you can. Talk about it, spread awareness of the facts and encourage everyone you can to take action. 

 

This can also count with sharing articles, magazines, books etc. with people in your life. Even if that is sharing an online article with those people on Facebook, or casually suggesting someone can borrow a magazine on climate issues (like Shado Mag, Atmos, and It’s Freezing in LA) that you’ve finished reading. 

 

10. Challenge mainstream media depictions of the climate crisis

 

Lots of mainstream media are getting their climate coverage incredibly wrong. Specific cases come to mind of BBC Newsbeat interviewing Boohoo CEO John Lyttle about the fashion industry’s polluting nature only for him to defend his horrifically toxic company, and on coverage of the recent heatwave in the UK, asking how we get used to this heat with little mention of its causes. 

 

Reporting like this is not okay. We need to be shouting at every moment that this is down to the climate crisis and to hold our governments and billionaire CEOs accountable for their actions. Call media outlets out for their portrayals. Write to them demanding better. We deserve better. We deserve for the climate crisis to be covered like the emergency it is. It should be on the front cover of every newspaper every week if not every day and should be highlighted in every news reel.  

 

11. Support legal campaigns like Paid to Pollute

 

Legal challenges tackle our governments head on, and the Paid to Pollute case gives me so much hope and motivation. It is currently going to the High Court, and the UK Government has made many attempts to quash it, but has so far failed. This case, brought forward by claimants Mikaela Loach, Jeremy Cox, and Kairin van Sweeden, says that the UK Government is not living up to the promises it made by signing the Paris Agreement in 2015. They are using the evidence of public payments to big polluters such as Shell and BP, and the proposals of new oil fields such as Cambo (which I mentioned in number 1). 

 

To show your support, follow them on social media, donate to the case, spread awareness of the case, sign the petition, and write to your MP telling them they have your support. The Paid to Pollute is something to celebrate and has the potential for huge impact.  


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12. Read, learn, take in information on the climate

 

In order to tackle an issue effectively, you need to understand the issue properly. I’m not saying I’m perfect when it comes to knowledge on the climate. I have specialist knowledge to the fashion industry in particular, but I’m trying to have more basic understandings of other areas. But ultimately we don’t all need to be experts on every single factor, we just need to know the basics. 

 

Books I’d recommend include This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein, We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer, and Stitched Up by Tansy Hoskins. There are loads others, but those are some of the ones I’ve recently read and would recommend. I’m also particularly looking forward to Aja Barber and Leah Thomas’ upcoming books! 

 

As I mention earlier, I’d recommend also reading magazines such as Shado Mag, It’s Freezing in LA, and Atmos who have lots of detailed articles both online and in print on these issues. 

 

There are a whole host of podcasts to listen to as well. Some of my favourites include Idealistically, The Yikes Podcast, Drilled, Outrage and Optimism, and Remember Who Made Them. Reasons to Be Cheerful have also started a series of episodes on the climate crisis in the run up to COP26. 


You can also check out documentaries such as Earthrise's The Breakdown series and Remake's 'Made In' series. There are so many relevant documentaries out there so see what you can find.


With everything, make sure you're thinking critically about the documentaries, books, podcasts, etc. you're consuming. Research what other people (especially more marginalised people) are saying about them - for instance, think twice whenever David Attenborough mentions overpopulation.


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13. Donate to support people displaced by extreme weather events

 

Thousands of people have been displaced by the recent extreme weather events. As well as campaigning for their international protection (see number 17), it you have the funds, give to support people in the immediate aftermath of losing their homes. They need direct and urgent support. Organisations seeking donations to support people are often shared after these disasters occur so if you see them and have the means, please do support them. Sometimes they get shared by larger accounts too. Basically keep your eyes open and support where you can.

 

Places currently dealing with the aftermath of climate disasters include: Greece, Turkey, California, Algeria, and Haiti, along with a whole load more. If you have any fundraisers or organisations seeking donations you want to recommend, please share them in the comments of this post so other readers can access them. Similarly, if you know of fundraisers having more direct impact than the ones I've shared please contact me so I can highlight fundraisers with the most possible impact.

 

14. Change your bank to a more ethical one

 

This is something that can be relatively easily done by most people. Most of the big banks are awful, with investments in fossil fuels, arms trades, and a whole host of other all-round bad things. Not something we want to be supporting and not something that’s good for the planet. Have a research of your current bank’s ethics and of those of prospective banks. I would also recommend reading Besma’s post on ethical banks as a shortcut! 

 

*Note for people with student/graduate accounts!* You may have more restrictions on changing banks if you have these kinds of accounts. In the months leading up to my graduation, I was researching more ethical banks and was hoping to switch from Santander (we all love the free railcard with that one) to Nationwide. I was then told that I couldn’t switch to their graduate account as I’d not had an account with them previously and that to change my student account to another student account I would need to do so while I was still in the first 18 months of my course. This was when I was 2 months from completing it. As I still want to keep my free overdraft that comes with a graduate account, I have to stay with Santander for a bit longer, but I’ll be changing completely as soon as I feel like I can do without it. 

 

15. Sign the Make My Money Matter petition

 

Make My Money Matter is a campaign which aims to make pension funds kinder for both people and planet. I’ve just graduated, I don’t have a pension right now, but it’s something that a huge number of people do have and a way that you can have significant impact. Just like big banks, many pension funds are invested in industries such as fossil fuels, tobacco, and weapons without us ever really realising. Not great. With so many pensions in existence, they have the potential to help change where gets more money. 

 

As well as signing the petition, check out the Make My Money Matter website for help on how to take control of your own pension and more information on the issue itself. 

 

16. Slow down your fashion consumption

 

This is something I have written extensively about, both on this blog and in articles elsewhere. Have a look through my slow fashion posts to learn more about how and why the fashion industry is currently so damaging to both people and planet. You could start with this one, or this one, or this one. After you’ve informed yourself a bit more through those posts, try and ensure you wear your clothes for more times than usual and think more closely about how often and where you’re buying clothes. 



17. Show your support for migrant and refugee rights

 

Out of basic human empathy this is something you should be doing anyway, but this issue is going to become more prominent as the climate crisis worsens. We are already seeing climate refugees, as thousands are displaced by extreme weather events all over the world. Kiribati, an island in the Pacific, has almost been submerged by rising sea levels and a recent case in New Zealand denied someone from Kiribati asylum there last year. However that case did leave potential for change in future cases once the situation has worsened. The issue of refugee and migrant rights was already essential and urgent, but with the climate crisis steadily worsening and displacing more and more people, it will only become more so. We need to stand up for people to have the right to live somewhere safely and to be given provisions. Everyone deserves safety. 

 

We also need to change what we think determines someone to be a refugee – the climate crisis is not currently a factor considered, conflict is the main factor recognised when granting asylum. In addition to being displaced by extreme weather events, the climate crisis is also known to increase the likelihood of war and conflict in regions most affected. In fact it has already impacted current and previous wars. The rights of people fleeing these areas in order to survive need to be protected. To achieve climate justice, we need to ensure the people most directly affected by the climate crisis are at the heart f our actions, strategies, and policies. 

 

In the UK specifically, this means challenging the racist policies trying to be implemented by Home Secretary Priti Patel. Patel has several bills currently going through Parliament which would be incredibly harmful to people seeking asylum as well as all migrants. Her Nationality and Borders Bill goes against many human rights set out by the UN Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and the UN Refugee Convention 1951. Particularly under threat is the principle of non-refoulement which essentially means that it is against a person’s human rights to be sent back to a country they have fled where they are under threat. Just basic human kindness and empathy, right? Well that’s what our Home Secretary and entire government are lacking. This bill is one of the most horrendous pieces of legislation to be put to Parliament, and it needs to be challenged. It is currently still in the committee stages in the Commons, so add this to your list of things to write to your MP about and to challenge in protests. It is not okay. 


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18. Check the sustainability of your energy suppliers

 

Energy is a common topic of discussion when it comes to the climate crisis – whether that’s on larger scales or the individual brands we use in our own homes. And it’s important to discuss. 

 

This is not an area I can claim to be an expert in by any stretch of the imagination, but it is something I want to learn more about. Octopus Energy is a name that gets brought up regularly, and has People’s Energy and Bristol Energy. Have a bit of a dig, question your current suppliers to ask what they’re doing to reduce their impacts, and try and find a supplier you’re happier with. And yes, this is something I’m going to try and make more time to research myself. 

 

19. Sign the petition for a Wellbeing Economy

 

We need to move away from an emphasis on GDP to evaluating our state success in terms of the wellbeing of the people and planet. What’s the point of having a shit tonne of GDP if 4.3 million children are living in poverty? We need to rethink the way we see success. Ultimately that would mean moving away from the capitalist system all together, and while that is a bit of big step for the next few months, this is something that might help.

 

This petition is spearheaded by the likes of Caroline Lucas MP and seeks to change our focus on growth to a focus on ‘health and wellbeing of people and planet’. It currently has +40,000 signatures, and while the government has responded with something a bit vague and non-commital, it would need 100,000 before the 26th September to be debated in Parliament. Help get this debated in Parliament and bring it to the attention of friends, families, and your local MPs. In discussions with people you know, bring up the idea that would should be prioritizing health over growth and profit, start changing attitudes on a smaller level as well as bringing up on a national one. 

 

20. If you can, try and eat fewer animal products and eat more plant-based

 

This is something that gets brought about time and time again when discussing individual action, and while it’s not accessible for everyone to do completely, it’s something that is important as we do know that eating fewer animal products is better for the environment. As someone who has been vegan now for over 3 years (!), I can tell you there is lots of very tasty vegan food out there for you. Cutting out meat and dairy doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavour. If you’re still not convinced, have a read of We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer. 



21. Call out greenwashing wherever you see it

 

In the past year greenwashing has reached new heights. Honestly, it’s ridiculous. Particular offenders include Amazon, H&M, Shell, and now Boohoo are upping their game too. If you want to learn more about the new tactics of fashion brands, check out this article I recently wrote for Remake!

 

As I’ll go into in more depth in a future bog post, greenwashing is essentially when a brand spends more time, money, and resources on marketing its products as sustainable than actually making its products sustainable. Take H&M for example. They launched their Conscious Collection in 2012 and have recently launched a new campaign highlighting child climate activists, and yet there is no proof they pay their workers a living wage, they have refused to renew the Bangladesh Accord, and at the beginning of this year 21-year-old garment worker Jeyasre Kathiravel (who made clothes for H&M) was raped and murdered by her factory supervisor after months of sexual harassment from him. What was that about being ‘Conscious’ H&M?

 

Green-trolling is our friend here. Call them out online. Brands care about their reputation. Their reputation has a lot of impact on keeping their profits high. Drag them down publicaly, in private conversations, in emails, share that article about their latest ethics scandal to family and friends. Express your outrage in whatever way you and encourage the people around you to boycott them if they can (spoiler alert: many people can, or can at least start slowing down their consumption). Again, express this outrage to your MPs and call for legislation about what brands can claim in advertising campaigns. Currently it’s like the Wild West when it comes to sustainability claims. 

 

22. Sign the petition to prevent oil giants from attending COP26

 

While groups like Unite for Climate Action should be the ones leading the conversation, the main instigators of the climate crisis should not. Frankly, they shouldn’t be driving the narrative as that way they avoid accountability. They need to be interrogated, face consequences, and ultimately forced to change. Not attending a COP summit should be part of this wake up call for them. 

 

23. Look for local organising groups for you to get involved with

 

There are so many climate activist groups out there, and within those so many roles as well. There truly is a role for everyone, even if, as Tolmeia Gregory says, that’s simply making tea in meetings. Search something like ‘climate action group’ and the name of your local area. Try different variations and see what comes up. There are lots of different larger organisations who will have regional groups as well, and ask around people that you know either in person or online for information about how to get involved. Hey, you could always create your own group! 

 

If you’re a student, check out what societies are at your uni. Groups like People & Planet are doing great work targeted specifically for students to hold universities accountable. 

 

24. At job interviews, ask what your prospective employer is doing to be more sustainable

 

If you’re like me and feel like your life is mostly made up of job applications right now, this will be relevant to you! If you get interviews at some of the jobs you’re applying for, ask your interviewer what the company is doing to tackle the climate crisis? Even if they don’t have a good answer, it will bring the issue onto their agenda and show that this is something jobseekers care about. I saw someone mention this on a Facebook group and honestly think it is brilliant.  

 

25. Ensure you have joy in your life

 

If there’s no dancing in the revolution, I don’t want it. I can’t remember who I’m paraphrasing there but the point is true. We need joy in whatever world we live in, and ultimately an ideal world would not be ideal unless it had joy. Joy is what sustains us, if that’s in the form of a late night dance party, our favourite takeaway, or laughs with friends. We need joy, otherwise none of this will be worth it. Have joy to keep on going. 




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