Sustainability Has Lost It's Meaning but Conscious Choice is What's Important

Sustainability is a term that's getting thrown around a lot these days but it's is not just about recycled yarns or compostable packaging. It's about making conscious choices. It's about purchasing items with longevity, purchasing things that spark joy. Inviting "things" into your life that make you feel connected, regardless of who or what tells you to do so.

Sustainability is about understanding that we are all connected to each other and the Earth and making sustainable choices is about creating a better place for ALL of us. Sustainable choices are about making our choices consciously from our heart and not our ego.

Unfortunately, sustainability has become a hype word, a fad, a cheap ploy to rope consumers in to feel better about what they are choosing to vote using their wallets. It's now used to push people to feel better about their "sustainable" purchases vs their “non-sustainable” choices even when the hyped sustainable purchase isn't ecologically or sustainably better. 

The Sustainable Fashion Forum recently wrote a powerful post on social media titled,

“If Gen Z wants sustainability, why are fast fashion retailers like Shein still growing?

The post, which I encourage everyone to read, states that despite numerous allegations of environmental damage, racially insensitive designs and plagiarism, Shein is the most downloaded shopping app in the US and is now the largest online-only fashion company in the world. While Gen Z has demanded sustainable options and transparency from brands, an overwhelming amount of Shein shoppers were born in the mid-90’s or later. At the close of 2020, Shein had annual revenue of $10 billion USD.

(I highly encourage you to read the full post available on Instagram @thesustainablefashionforum.)

Why has this become the reality? Why are Gen Z'ers flocking to something that seems to go against all sustainability tenets? I've sat with this question and what has become glaringly obvious is this. The majority of us still make choices driven from ego, not logic or consciousness. 

We know that we all need to feel connected, to feel we belong and are part of a community. So, we purchase items that get us to that feeling of belonging. When a trusted “influencer” recommends a product or highlights trends and items on their channels, we naturally gravitate toward them to feel included - to feel like we belong. 

But much of these endorsements are a ploy. Influencers are paid to promote and showcase certain items, not necessarily  items they love or believe in. And I don’t blame them as they're attempting to belong in their own way, to be a part of something bigger. 

It’s become a vicious cycle.

While standing on a trash-riddled beach in the middle of Bali, I knew I had to take action, to take a stand and Free Flow Active was born from that moment. I was at a point in my life where I felt disconnected in my corporate world and the people in it. I was miserable and completely uninspired. I was also confused as I was constantly being told: “how great I had it”.  

At that moment on that beach, I felt a re-connection to the ocean, the earth, and the overpowering connection with nature and the warm people in my presence that I felt in my heart at that moment. That was the spark to create something bigger than myself. 

And, so, I will leave you with this quote that I love,

WARM - “Don’t worry about being cool. Never worry about what the cool people think. Life is warmth. You’ll be cool when you’re dead. Head for the warm people. Head for life.”

Lots of love,

Emily Ratchford