Episode 79: If we don't start addressing this one thing, are we all greenwashing?




  • The importance of being open to changing perspectives and beliefs
  • A deeper exploration of common sustainability statistics
  • Niching down into the field of sustainability 
  • The significance of reducing consumption 
  • Addressing the energy costs and resource structure
  • Awareness of our energy consumption in day-to-day activities


Welcome to episode 79 of the Fashion Unearthed Podcast. Today marks my second year anniversary since I started this podcast, and I just wanted to talk through one of the main things or realizations that I've come to over the two years. But before I get into that, if you're new here and you want to keep up to date with what's happening in sustainability, I send out a fortnightly newsletter, which has a bunch of resources and focuses that can help businesses and other inspirations that I come across. If you are interested in that, you can sign up for it by heading to belindahumphrey.com

I initially started this podcast because I thought it would be a better fit for writing than a blog. And 79 episodes in I was right I wouldn't have made it this far if I had started a blog. Writing is just not my thing. I don't love it that much. Another reason was that it was a way to summarize and document some of the topics I was researching in the hopes that it would speak to other people working on their brands and wanting to learn more too. But looking back on some early episodes, I can see how my perspective and interests have shifted and evolved. For some, given the chance to redo them, I probably would approach them differently. For example, BCR Cotton, I would now probably not rate that as much of an improvement, and I wouldn't use any statistics about energy savings or water usage that have come from any brands or marketing material. The philosophy of Berry Liberman from Dumbo Feather comes to mind when she says she has firm beliefs held lightly. This is important for all of us to remember, myself included.

We're allowed to change our minds when we find new information, and we all have biases as well as a need to select material to confirm our biases. Confirmation bias, my psychology days are coming back to me. That was a long time ago. I also want to remind you, the reader, the person who's also been on this journey, and probably your own sustainability journey as well, that you too can change your mind, and it's healthy to do so. The main shift for me was digging into some of the common statistics that get thrown around in this space. Things around water consumption, energy savings, and the amount of impact are decided at the design stage. These are all things that I'm a lot more sceptical of now, and I've filtered out what sources are impartial and what sources might have something to gain or lose in the conversation.

It has been a process, and it's one that needed to take the time it did because now I feel like I've circled around the issue and looked at it from different angles and listened to a lot of voices in this space. And with the help of analysts outside of the industry, I think that's been a crucial piece of the puzzle. I've also pieced together the main players behind the scenes, who's on what board, what family has a chemical company in America that relies on the fashion industry, and all of the people behind the systems who have no genuine interest in fostering change unless it means more profits. I'm naturally drawn to looking for patterns or systems. it was inevitable that I would be interested in going down to that level. I started to niche down into this field probably three years ago.

I probably had the rumblings deep in my conscious a long time before that. But I wasn't working in alignment with my values. Three years ago, it seemed like the circular economy was the best answer to all of the problems. While I still believe it makes sense in theory, and I still implement circular design principles with my client work and consultancy, I think a lot of what it promises is yet to be proven and particularly financially proven. It misses an opportunity to address the elephant in the room and include another word that starts with reduce. It's almost like a little footnote that if we do all the steps, then as a byproduct, we will reduce our consumption, but it's not leading to the message. I do include this in my work we have to focus on creating less because it doesn't matter what the latest new material is, whether it's algae-based or bio-based, they all have a resource cost.

When those feedstocks are scaled up to meet the current level of consumption, it'll be just as damaging. The other part of that is recycling garments back into yarn at scale. There is a huge en energy cost to do it and a resource structure that needs to be put in place. If you've been reading for a while, you would've heard me talk before about Nate Berry's interview on the Dumbo Feather Podcast about us all being energy blind. Everything we do uses a phenomenal amount of energy and we do so much in our day-to-day without thinking about it, using a computer, recording this podcast, charging our phones, all of those things add up. It's not as simple as just saying it's great to keep resources in use by recycling because to do that, a large majority of the energy required still comes from fossil fuel.

The biggest thing I've learned or come to realize in the last two years of researching and summarizing findings on this podcast is that we have to address overproduction and overconsumption at all stages of the current systems. If we have any chance of reducing the climate impact and aligning it to the 1.5-degree pathway of the Paris Agreement, we have to address it. It's absolutely the biggest elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. Which brings us to the end of today's episode. If you have been reading over the last two years and you have a favourite episode, I would love it if you emailed me and told me what you liked or what was surprising to you. Thanks so much for your time and attention. It's such a busy world, and we lead such busy lives, it means so much to know that there are people out there tuning in, and if you have liked it, I would also love it if you shared it with a friend. There's a big back catalogue now with a variety of topics perfect f or binge-listening. I would love it if you could spread the word. The email to get in touch is info@belindahumphrey.com. As always, you'll find the show notes and any links in the podcast section on the website, belindahumphrey.com. Thanks so much for reading. See you next time.

Thanks for listening to the Fashion Unearthed podcast. If you want to get in touch head over to belindahumphrey.com or you can find me on Instagram @belindahumphrey 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure that information is accurate at the time of recording, much like the fashion industry itself, this information may change.


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