Consumer shaming may be exactly what we need

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

Photo via The Fashion Spot

Well, we've officially heard it all. Last week, the internet was introduced to an interesting? new narrative surrounding the topic of climate change.

Karl-Johan Persson, a.k.a the CEO of H&M and one of the richest people alive, stated in an interview with Bloomberg that the recent climate protests which call for conscious consumerism and reduced waste may cause grave consequences to our society. Yes, you read that correctly.

Persson furthered that protests, like those led by Greta Thunberg, which voice anger towards industries and consumption habits that contribute to climate change can only result in a small positive environmental impact while causing negative social consequences, like a weakened economy.

Apparently, consideration for the social consequences caused by a dying planet is lost here.

Persson's major gripe with Thunberg-like climate protests is that these protests call for people to 'stop' doing things. To stop driving, stop flying and most importantly, stop shopping. He argues this type of advocacy shames consumers out of consuming, subsequently slowing the move of goods and services and weakening our economy.

Beyond the obvious bias in Persson's argument (hello!?), isn't it time that we started to hold ourselves accountable? If we as consumers are perpetuating the cycles that are leading to environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emissions, on some level, shouldn't we be shamed?

Photo via Pixel Pool

The reality is, the fast-fashion industry specifically is one of the worst offenders for producing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and systemic social issues in third world countries. The fast-fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, after the oil industry. In fact, the fast-fashion industry's CO2 emissions alone are projected to increase to nearly 2.8 billion tons each year by 2030. That's equivalent to the emissions produced by 230 million vehicles. With the rise of fast-fashion brands using influencer and social media marketing to rapidly boost online sales, it's important that consumers understand the impact of their consumption choices.

So, just like we shame ourselves out of other perceived bad habits like smoking or unhealthy eating, we need to shame ourselves from frequent consumption of fast fashion. As consumers, we need to be aware of the environmental impact of our purchasing decisions and we need to start to make responsible and conscious choices when it comes to purchasing our clothes and accessories.

If we simply bury our heads in the sand and pretend like our consumption and shopping choices don't impact our planet and the environment, are we really any better than the major industries pumping greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere? Consumer shaming might be scary for people like Persson, but as a society, it's exactly what we need.