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Fast fashion is the notion of creating low-cost clothes in a rapid-fire production – and it is a problem which needs to change to lessen the impact it has on the environment. Considered the second most polluting industry in the world by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and more than 500 million dollars of textiles ending up in Australian landfill each year (Ross, 2019), experts say measures need to be taken to combat this issue. Measures include clothes rental, better recycling processes, pollution control technology and the innovation of offcuts.

Other harsh statistics many may not know about the textiles industry include its estimated use of water is around 1.5 trillion litres each year – even making a single pair of denim jeans uses over 10 000 litres! Read it again – that much water for only one pair. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said the fashion industry creates 10 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions every year, meaning the cheap clothes selling off the shelves at a rapid pace, are doing more harm than one may think.

If the notion of reducing your fast fashion footprint has been on your mind for a while, here are some ways to reduce it.

assorted-color apparels

 Shop with ethical brands

 An ethical company is one who treats their workers fairly, in terms of payment and providing a safe environment – all whilst using ethical materials and partaking in honourable practices. Companies with policies in place such as the management of water usage and chemical practices and recycling programs, are all ones you should consider buying from.

Re-use and re-mend

Go through the wardrobe and be surprised at the hidden gems that will appear. If an item has a slight hole or a stuck zip, there are plenty of easy ways to fix or revamp with a simple DIY. 

Charity shopping

With restrictions eased all around the country, have a fun day out by exploring the local op-shops. The sense of giving clothes a new home and purpose is rewarding – and saves some coin also.

assorted clothes in wooden hangers

As parents, it can be challenging to find ways to support children experiencing fears about the future of the planet while managing our own worries about an uncertain future. Psychologist, author and broadcaster Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, a specialist in parenting and child/adolescent mental health, in conjunction with SchoolTV, guides parents on how to best respond to a child experiencing eco-anxiety, irrespective of varying personal views on the climate change debate.

The Australian Curriculum on Sustainability addresses the ongoing capacity of Earth to maintain all life.

Primary schools are immersed in school gardens and recycling initiatives. Teenagers across the globe are striking from school in protest to leader inaction on mitigating the effects of climate change.

Extreme weather events such as drought, fire and flood regularly dominate news reports and popular media revels in polarising debate.

Our children are more environmentally aware than ever and with this awareness can come fear and anxiety as children grapple with notions of disaster, with some experiencing it directly amid bushfires and drought stricken rural areas.

The World Health Organisation regard climate change as the greatest threat to global health in the 21st Century, due to results of extreme weather events and a recent survey by YouGovGalaxy for UNICEF Australia reveals that children are most worried, on a world level, about the environment.

What is Eco-Anxiety?

Eco-Anxiety refers to the fear felt about the threat of ecological disaster, leading to feelings of disempowerment, helplessness and apathy.

A brief report by Millennium Kids through the University of Western Australia, found 60 per cent of children surveyed believed the Australian Government does not adequately acknowledge climate change as a serious problem and is not committed to tackling the issue.

They also felt their personal actions to mitigate climate change were inadequate.

How to Respond

Finding ways as a parent to allay a child’s fear on the issue without being disingenuous can be confusing, particularly when a child is very young.

However, Dr Carr-Gregg believes early intervention is critical when addressing the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing issues which are now impacting our children at a much younger age.

In a recent special report with SchoolTV, a resource used to support schools and parents in addressing the modern day issues affecting today’s children, Dr Carr-Gregg outlines ways to best respond to a child’s eco-anxiety.

Building Hope

Dr Carr-Gregg believes, as adults, we have a responsibility to give hope and must be careful not to terrify children into a state of hopelessness, fear and panic.

He encourages instilling faith that our society has the capacity to solve big problems, and by working together, taking positive action and maintaining honesty, positive change can happen.

Parents are then best positioned to respond to the fear experienced by our children about climate change and the sustainability of the planet. How to

Protecting Innocence

 

Under 5’s

This is a tender developmental stage and children need to believe the world is a safe and secure place.

However, Dr Carr-Gregg recommends answering questions, if they are raised, in honest, yet gentle terms such as, “The earth does face some challenges but many people, our schools and leaders are working to solve them.”

Dr Carr-Gregg explains, cocooning Pre-Schoolers from catastrophic thinking about the fate of the planet is very important and if they seek further reassurance, it can be helpful to focus on the environmentally friendly practices of the family.

He says, “Help them learn to appreciate and care for their environment.”

Positive Action

 

Primary school aged

Dr Carr-Gregg suggests being guided by your child’s curiosity at this age, to answer questions honestly, in accordance to your beliefs, being mindful to not focus solely on problems.

Instead, emphasise positive initiatives being implemented worldwide. He says, “Talk about renewables, emission reduction and that human beings do have a history of being able to solve, what has often been seen in the past, as intractable problems.”

He encourages involving your primary aged children in Community Gardens, Recycling Programs and other initiatives which can give them agency over their future.

Deep Fears

For children experiencing extreme anxiety, Dr Carr-Gregg explains this can be diffused by encouraging them to talk.

He says, “Gradually introduce them to known facts. Then ask them how they feel, before acknowledging that the ultimate outcome is uncertain.

Finally, parents should agree to practical steps to make a difference such as cutting down on non-recyclable waste and by choosing food with a better climate footprint.

Working Together

 

Adolescents

Older children are perhaps, more well-versed on the effects of climate change than their parents and views may vary, however, Dr Carr-Gregg recommends dissuading narratives of doom.

He encourages parents to welcome conversations around the issue but to keep reminding teenagers that many people are working together to help solve the problem.

He says, “Big problems have been solved in the past by people working together.”

Solution Based Thinking

Dr Carr-Gregg says, “The most important thing a parent can do to allay eco-anxiety, while still encouraging realism is to tell children that solutions do exist and if we implement changes now. In the future, more people will be living in cleaner cities, eating healthier diets and working in resilient, buoyant economies. When a child sees a parent acting to make things better it shines an entirely different light on the problem. Young people see their parents as Superheroes and our actions speak louder than words.”

“We can work to find solutions to serious problems without giving way to despair and impotence.”

Keeping the Faith

Dr Carr-Gregg’s special report on SchoolTV asks parents to look to practical and positive responses to their children’s fears about climate change and to implement positive action whilst acknowledging the positive actions of others.

Hope is an essential component to not only assuaging anxiety but also in overcoming the problems faced by the world.

Albert Wiggan, a Bardi-Kija-Nyul Nyual man from the Kimberley and Conservationist of the Year at the 2019 Australian Geographic Society said, in his acceptance speech in November, it was time Australia and the world looked to Indigenous cultures for the answers on how to sustain the earth.

He said, “I still have a lot of belief that we can turn things around in this great country. And we will turn things around. And we are going to instil the strength in our children who are out there fighting for their future and every single one of us, who are accepting these awards, are doing it for you. And we are doing it for you so you can maintain your vigorous conviction. And you maintain your faith in your future. And you maintain the faith of who we are as human beings.”

Children all around the world left the classroom to take to the streets in the School Strike for Climate, despite receiving criticism from teachers, parents and even our top politicians. So, why did our kids risk punishment to take action for the environment?

We recently saw school children around the world united in one common goal: save our planet. In over 112 countries, kids skipped school on Friday March 15 to take to the streets in the School Strike for Climate, demanding governments take action on an issue that will affect the course of their futures.

Many teachers, parents and politicians raised objection, insisting that the children stay in school instead. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told parliament, “We do not support our schools being turned into parliaments… what we want is more learning in schools and less activism.”

Despite drawing criticism, the school strike did make people take notice of the issue in a way that hasn’t before and forced many to beg the question: why are the kids coming together to take action on climate change?

Many teachers, parents and politicians raised objection, insisting that the children stay in school instead.

It was Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden who inspired the more than 1.4 million young people to campaign on climate action this month. Her solo protest outside Swedish parliament last August is what prompted the global movement. “We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference,” Thunberg says.

Citing a belief in equality and climate justice as their reason to skip school, those who took part in the march called for a dramatic reduction in greenhouse emissions from their respective countries.

“We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference”

Young people, it seems, are the ones taking to the streets due to the lack of action from world leaders. Many, like Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, are under the impression that the adults have left this environmental mess for the children to clean up. With a belief that the press and politicians seem to be ignoring the issue, the youth are taking action into their own hands.

Young people, it seems, are the ones taking to the streets due to the lack of action from world leaders.

Whether you agree with the actions of the climate strike or not, one thing is undeniably clear. The united action around the globe reveals the solidarity of young people that are concerned about the environment. If a united strike such as this created as much conversation and debate as it did, then perhaps the time has come to listen to the kids and start doing something to act when it comes to the future of our planet.

Climate change champion, mother of four and founder of 1 Million Women, Natalie Isaacs, is an inspiring woman proving that one person is capable of making a difference.

As mothers, we all want to make this world a better place for our children, but understandably, good intentions can often go unactioned in the busyness of work and family. 

Battling climate change wasn’t always on the forefront of Natalie’s mind. In fact, she was a cosmetics manufacturer and a busy mum of four.

But then, by making some simple changes, she reduced her electricity bill by 20 percent.

“I realised then that what I did was powerful, and if other people did what I just did that would be incredible,” she recalls. “I went on and changed my food waste habits and from that one action I profoundly changed the way I lived.

So, I went on to think, ‘Oh my goodness, imagine if I could share my story with other women like me, who were not engaged for whatever reason, and if I could tell my story, they might want to change too.’ That is what really led me to create 1 Million Women.”

Natalie founded 1 Million Women in 2009, and the idea was simple – get 1 Million Women to sign up to the website and make a commitment to cut a tonne of pollution out of their lives within a year.

The movement grew quickly (although Natalie admits, she thought they would reach one million women within six months), and the movement is now reaching people all over the world.

The idea was simple – get 1 Million Women to sign up to the website and make a commitment to cut a tonne of pollution out of their lives within a year.

The cause continues to climb towards their one million goal (the 1 Million Women community, which includes women who have committed as members, as well as their followers across the 1 Million Women social platforms, currently comprises more than 700,000).

Additionally, the cause has expanded to not only encourage women and give ideas on how to reduce their carbon footprint, but also take on larger campaigns, such as fighting for the Great Barrier Reef and reducing food waste.

“The heart and soul of 1 Million Women is about empowering women and girls to live with the least impact on the planet,” Natalie says. “We show you that everything we do in our daily life shapes the world we live in, and of course, this is about climate change.”

Women are responsible for 85 per cent of the consumer decisions that impact a household’s carbon footprint, and with 17 per cent of global emissions coming from households, the difference small changes can make collectively is huge.

However, it is not about making women and their families feeling guilty to facilitate change. “One of the things we have learnt is the way that we do it from a view of optimism and empowerment, not from guilt and despair,” Natalie says. “We show you how to act and we show you the results.

We bring you along the road of empowerment as opposed to making you feel guilty about what you’re not doing. It is showing this collective action – if one million of us did this, then this would be the result.”

Natalie says women are amazing at networking, and the social media following of 1 Million Women is certainly impressive. Natalie says the small team behind 1 Million Women decided to work on building their social media following and to make their blog a priority a few years ago, and it was the right decision.

“The blog went from 500 views a month to 10,000 views a day.”

Their social media community, through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is also very active – with the 1 Million Women team posting several times a day. “They are such an engaged community,” she says. “Social media is such a big part of how we communicate.”

They are also working on a (free to download) app, which is planned to be launched in February. The app will provide daily climate actions and track how much carbon pollution you save.

Natalie has recently been awarded The Australian Geographic Conservationist of the Year. “I am so honoured by it because it is real recognition of the work that we do.”

“Behaviour changing is the elephant in the room – it is the hardest thing to do.”

In an affluent community like Australia it is hard to change the way you live.

“You might do something for a month or two but then you forget. We are trying to get women to change their lives profoundly so you don’t even see it as behaviour change any more, it just becomes who you are and that is a hard thing to do.”

Since Natalie is a mother and a grandmother, she gives a sense of comfort that she truly understands how making and sticking to changes can be difficult. But, she acknowledges little changes can make a big difference and the benefits can be great.

She believes her children (the youngest is now 16) really live with an appreciation of the Earth and she encourages women to get their children onboard as well.

Natalie’s top tips to make a change
Natalie’s not suggesting you make drastic changes that will make a difference, which your family can begin today (and she didn’t suggest taking cold showers or living by candle light!).

  • Take a breath when you go to buy something and ask: Do I really need it?
    “Overconsumption is out of control”.
  • “Buy less – less is more. We can all stop consuming and we don’t need all the stuff that we have. Share, swap, buy second-hand, buy better quality – but buy less.”

 

  • Reduce food waste
    “In Australia, we waste one in five shopping bags of food. Look at your portions. Don’t be tempted to buy two for one deals at the shops. Get yourself a worm farm or some chickens to reduce food waste.”
  • Reduce energy consumption
    “We can reduce energy consumption just by being vigilant around the house.”

“That was the first thing I did. I didn’t even really know what I was doing – just turning this off at the wall – but it really makes a difference.”