Sources: Good On You https://goodonyou.eco/how-ethical-is-hm/
With the summer weather coming around mid-March only to be matched with freezing cold days later, the conversation of global warming and climate change is becoming more important than ever.
We are often bombarded with media telling us what to do, what to cut back on and how we, as consumers, need to change in order to stop hurting our environment. It is our job to lead the charge of correcting the errors of past generations, and if only we could band together a difference could be made.
This narrative is false. While using less water, wasting less food and buying less plastic will benefit our surrounding environment, the people are not the biggest players hurting our Earth — it is the companies.
In recent years, many companies have started claiming to be eco-friendly and making their products sustainable. H&M is a big name for this, as the fast-fashion brand released a line of clothes claiming to use environmentally safe products and pledging to use “100% recycled or sustainable materials by 2030,” according to Good on You, a website that rates brands on how good they are for the world as a whole.
The reason the word “claims” is used is that data shows that H&M operates under a fast-fashion model, meaning their clothes are made cheap to fit the trends as they happen basically weekly. Their items are not meant to last, but rather be fashionable for a few weeks and then cast aside. A T-shirt bought in 2016 from H&M now is so faded it is questionable to wear, according to one of our staff members.
Continuing with the idea of items not being built to last brings up Apple’s recent switch to eco-friendly. The technology brand has an entire page on their website dedicated to their progress report, advertising recycled materials and being carbon neutral by 2030. While both these ideas are great, this begs the question of why Apple changed the charger for their devices a couple years ago. The iPhone 7 saw the elimination of the headphone port, forcing buyers to either get new earbuds for their device or buy a “dongle,” an adaptor from AUX to lightning USB.
To push the point home, in 2019, 100 energy companies accounted for 71% of all industrial emissions, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That is based on self-reported data, which means that the statistics are generated from what companies tell us about their sources. The same report also stated that the top 15 of U.S. food and beverage companies produce 630 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year. For reference, the average person only produces about 15 metric tons of greenhouse gases in a year through living their lives.
The cherry on top of companies wanting to blame consumers are that companies like BP have sections of their website dedicated to how people can calculate their carbon footprint. While an environmentally conscious thing, an oil company telling the population to use less fossil fuels makes about as much sense as a gym teacher eating a popsicle while you run the one mile. It is backward and gives them less accountability in a matter they play a huge role in.
So yes, you should be aware of what you are buying and making sustainable choice, but more importantly we need to hold companies accountable. We cannot buy to benefit the Earth if all companies offer are unsustainable options.