Environmental SustainabilityPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Eden Projects

Environmentally sustainable products are created with a focus on minimizing negative impact on the earth’s ecosystems and enhancing natural systems. Everything human beings need to survive depends on our planet’s natural environment. So in order to carry on, humanity needs to use those resources responsibly. Our consumption must stay within the limits of earth’s ability to replenish its resources. But that is certainly not how we’ve been living.

Signs of a Dying Planet

The planet is facing problematic challenges. Listen to public television or flip through a National Geographic magazine and you’ll hear of disasters like these:

  • Climate change driving droughts, forest fires, flooding, and fierce storms
  • Deforestation on a massive scale
  • Overfishing and the collapse of important fish populations
  • Mass extinction of plant and animal species
  • Pollution of air, water, and soil causing illness in wildlife and humanity
  • Acidification of the oceans that spurring coral reef death

This is just a sample of the impact humanity has on this planet.

Consumerism Drives Environmental Degradation

Products consumption impacts the value chain created by natural resources, and Americans are a big part of the problem. Even though America has only 5% of the global population, we consume 25% of all fossil fuel resources (as both fuel and petroleum-based products like plastics).[i] Similar trends are seen across all resources. We’re a rich nation, and we use a significant portion of the world’s resources.

There are two factors in particular that have contributed to an alarmingly rapid depletion of resources and environmental health.

In the 1940’s designers and manufacturers came up with two slick ideas:

  • Planned obsolescence: Manufacturers design their products to fail by calculating the shortest amount of time a product needs to last before consumers lose confidence in it. In other words, they plan for things to break in order to get people to replace their goods more quickly.
  • Perceived obsolescence: By playing into people’s desire to be the best, advertisers encourage consumers to buy the latest and greatest products at ever faster rates. “Got last year’s smartphone model? Not good enough—better upgrade to the new one now!” Long before most products wear out, consumers replace them with something newer.

Planned and perceived obsolescence combined with a rapidly growing human population, equals big eco problems. Current generations of Americans are buying and consuming more than ever before. And now we are starting to fight over resources. It’ll only get worse as population increases.

Ethical Fashion Supports a Thriving Planet

The energy that drives this fast consumption model is money.   This cycle is not going to change as long consumers continue supporting the planned and perceived obsolescence cycle. As long as fashion is fast and cheap, natural capital will move through the system in one linear direction. What we need is a self-renewing system where natural resources move through the value chain in a replenishing cycle.

Open your hands – you have control of the money! That means you have the power to create change by being conscious about where you spend your money.

What does it look like when a consumption cycle protects and restores environmental quality?

  • We stay within set extraction limits so natural systems can replenish as resources are used.
  • We eliminate toxins on the production end, and remove pollution from air, water and soil.
  • Manufacturers and distributors strive to be energy neutral or positive.
  • And we eliminate waste by repurposing materials in an infinite cycle of use.

By making more environmentally sustainable choices, consumers can change the cycle of consumption.  

Companies that set Eco standards and other likeminded companies like Hearts, are also part of the solution. By producing ethical fashion, you have eco shopping choices that benefit the planet rather than just taking from it.   

Imagine a world where sustainably produced products are created in ways that help the planet sustain life and the earth is left healthier for future generations. With your help, Hearts and other companies around the world are up for the challenge.

Dive deeper to learn more about environmental sustainability.

World Issue - Environmental - hearts.com.pdf

[i] The State of Consumption Today. (2011). Retrieved April 13, 2012, from Worldwatch Institute: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/810