Today I want to discuss why “IT IS COOL TO CARE.” The concept for this post came when looking for inspirational quotes, because who doesn’t love a good quote, and who is more inspirational than Safia Minney? She coined this phrase and has used it in many interview style articles when asked, If you could say one thing to consumers what would it be?
I think Safia Minney is the coolest of the cool. She’s the founder and CEO of People Tree, a Fair Trade fashion label and online retailer, and the first clothing company in the world to guarantee Fair Trade and environmental production practice throughout the supply chain. Committed to empowering the poor, protecting the environment and changing the kind of world we live. Drop the mic. That is my idea of cool.
So using this quote as inspiration I am going to open up a conversation in the hope that it speaks to anyone out there who really does, well, care.
Studies are showing that millennials care about making the world a better place, more than any other generation before. Making this clear through their desire to buy from companies that deliver a positive social and environmental impact, and having the confidence to talk openly about these beliefs. I am a millennial so I can vouch that this is definitely true in my case, I want to buy better!
This demand for companies to improve for the greater good, doesn’t come from just having abnormally high standards. It comes from a genuine concern for the urgent changes we should all be starting to make. It is harder than ever to turn a blind eye and I think we are running out of excuses why we should. Obviously this is not exclusive to millennials, many people are deciding that sustainability and ethical practise is a non negotiable. I am proud to say, it seems we are all waking up to the issues we face and are starting to demand smarter, fairer solutions, fast!
Now a brief warning. This article is going to use the word cool, more than once. I hope you’re okay with this and won’t think I’m terribly uncool for the repetition. Here goes.
The concept of being cool is an interesting formula, because it is always subjective. What one person thinks, or what the media claims is cool, a lot of people will think the exact opposite. I am sure we all have an idea in our heads of what we think is deemed as cool.
Originally the saying goes “TOO COOL TO CARE” or “TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL.” Most of us will have heard these phrases multiple times throughout our lives. The literal definition of cool goes something like this: Showing no friendliness or enthusiasm for an idea or project. Unenthusiastic. Half-hearted, even negative. (Online dictionary)
So I think we can all agree that this definition was never really that cool. I believe our ideas surrounding the mystique of what is cool is very much changing. Now it is cool to be knowledgeable and maybe a little geeky. It is very cool to be educated, to stand out from the crowd. It is cooler than ever to be in tune with what is going on in the world. To have a passion, a purpose, a cause to commit to, something to talk about other than work or what is on the telly, a thirst for knowledge or a rejection of the status quo.
Even if you are outwardly the epitome of cool, think how much you could upgrade your cool by caring. I have a pretty great example.
Debbie Harry aka Blondie. She was and still is the embodiment of cool, in my opinion. She has the look, the sound, the success, but she also seems so grounded.
Dropping her latest album “Pollinator” upped her level of cool for me. Whilst creating another great album but also a valid statement, she asks us to “bee connected.” Debbie Harry and co are on a mission to raise awareness of the decline in the bee population and generally comment on society as a whole. Check out this quote from the legend herself about song “Doom or Destiny:”
“I wanted to comment on the bizarre state of media and news in the current political ‘idiocracy’ we are watching play out in real time. I wanted to create my own news channel that dealt with current issues such as the environmental collapse, fossil fuels, bee population decline, global warming, sexism, patriarchy, Trump and Russia, feminism, consumerism, the marketing of war and more.”
The cool doesn’t stop there British conceptual artists Vin + Omi have created Blondie’s tour wardrobe. Each piece thought-provoking and slightly controversial. Created from textiles made of recycled plastic that has been collected from oceans and rivers worldwide by community clean-up projects. Cool to the next level!
Well Done Blondie, we salute you!
Interestingly the idea of someone or something being classified by the masses as cool is a very valuable currency. Certain brands place a lot of money into marketing campaigns to have us believe their new product is the cats pyjamas, often modelled by the celeb of the moment. Just think what a difference it could make if more high profile influencers came forward to spread positive educational messages. For no other reason other than they care. People would listen.
Back to fashion. One of the most common preconceptions is the idea that ethical and sustainably produced fashion just isn’t cool. This is also changing. In fact in the past few years a plethora of brands with genuinely impressive style credentials as well as deep rooted ethical values have emerged. We no longer have to wear head to toe linen to look like a sustainable advocate, although I would still love that.
So what next? Could it be that ethical/sustainable fashion is the in thing right now or is it just another fashion fad that comes and goes? I’m optimistic that this is far bigger than a passing trend. We are only seeing the beginning. The very foundation that it is built on is about being slower, buying less but better. Ethical and sustainable fashion has so much more to give and economies to grow…and people to clothe.
In truth only time will tell, but in the meantime let’s celebrate a more responsible approach to fashion and hope this becomes ingrained in the supply chains of the future. Spreading into all facets of our lives not just clothing; as we demand supermarkets to use less disposable plastics. When we refuse that straw at the bar with our friends. As more of us fight for garment worker across the world to receive a fair living wage. Lets celebrate ourselves when walking to clothing recycling banks. Pat yourself on the back for buying less and caring more. Say we care for the environment and for the people of the world to everyone who will listen.
Here at Into The Eco we think environmental issues and the people who make the clothes we wear are both things we should all be caring about. Not next week or next year, not after our next big shopping spree. Choose to care today. Talking about what we care about can open us up potentially to a lot of fear. It’s scary and makes us vulnerable but it can also be incredible.
We are believers in hybrid businesses delivering financial, social and environmental benefits. Transforming supply chains and the unsustainable economic systems we currently have in place, we want to see change in the lives of others as well as our own.
There is so much room to become cool through caring, it is a beautifully inclusive world. For now at least, it seems caring really is cool! So let’s all start to act like it, and see the world change together!
Lets all ask ourselves what we can do this year to show that we all care. Small changes eventually add up to big results. We really can change the world if we care enough…isn’t that cool?
Thank you for the inspiration Safia!
Into The Eco