When you think about the realities of the social and environmental crises caused by our extractive fashion system, do you ever feel overwhelmed by a wave of many overlapping emotions, especially when the media is filled with doom and gloom stories of the climate crisis?
Some days I feel despondent, and other days I feel deeply, joyfully connected to the world around me. Then some days I feel sorrow, and other days I feel endlessly hopeful.
Sometimes I feel alone in this complex mix of feelings. But what I have learned from following today’s guest, Isaias Hernandez — who is an intersectional environmental educator whose work I deeply admire — is that this range of emotions is normal. He calls them “climate emotions”.
After learning about climate emotions, and seeing climate doomism proliferated in the media, I knew I wanted to have Isaias on the show to unpack this and understand how it’s connected to the fashion industry.
In this episode, we are grappling with the complexity of climate emotions, unpacking the harms of climate doomism narratives, and understanding why what Isaias speaks of as “evidence-based hope” is essential for reorienting action and working towards equitable solutions for the fashion industry – and how we can all cultivate this hope in our own lives.
Tune in below or find the transcript here.
Listen to This Episode:
Highlights From This Conversation with Isaias
How do fashion, food, and cultural heritage intersect?
“I got into fashion through food. I do a lot of foraging. And one of my favorite foods I grew up eating is cactus. Cactus is so abundant in Mexico. Every meal my mom cooked had cactus with it. Cactus has a lot of water, so it’s a good hydration if people don’t have access to water in a nearby area. It also just tastes delicious. Seeing how food can be used as both medicine, and clothing, and for food and nourishment showed me that we need to consider all of these different intersections. Food, culture, and fashion are the same thing. You can’t separate them.” — Isaias (00:06:20)
Acknowledging that there are valid climate emotions beyond climate anxiety
“I struggled to identify with the word ‘eco-anxiety’ because I didn’t have fear of the future of the planet anymore. I was angry. I was grieving. I felt sorrow. I felt a different complex of emotions. I started to wonder: how did I relate to the environment when I was a kid? Why is it that we laugh at adults for talking to trees or the land in our urban society? Kids are always touching dirt, sometimes they’re eating it, sometimes they’re making weird stories about it, about fairies and goblins or whatever they want. What happened to those emotions?” — Isaias (00:14:36)
The danger of climate doomism as a dominant narrative
“The reason why it’s very dangerous to get on this narrative and this rhetoric of human supremacy are that, yes, I agree that if you look at emissions as colonization was happening, emissions started to rise there. Right? But what I’m trying to get at is that it’s white supremacist corporatized systems that allowed us to get to the point of exploitation because indigenous communities have always existed and still exist today. Indigenous communities aren’t creating these types of emissions and they’re the ones who protect the largest percentage of biodiversity in the world.” — Isaias (00:22:09)
Why fashion’s climate marketing narratives need to shift into justice-led climate action
“A large part of the fashion industry relies on immigrants. So what are fashion industries doing as a climate crisis is making things worse? Factories are flooding. Factories are on fire. People are getting exploited at such a massive rate. These industries have so much wealth accumulated within their CEOs and C Suite boards. and they’re not redistributing those funds.
So with the narratives around certain fashion brands trying to create messaging for the planet, I think it needs to go beyond the messaging of just having climate activists on their fashion campaigns. It needs to be about having real conversations that bring in those who make our clothes giving accreditation acknowledgment to them.
I think if the fashion industry worked more locally with the communities where they’re based, they’d become agents of change rather than trying to fight for their brand to be considered the most sustainable because there is no ‘most sustainable’ brand out there.” — Isaias (00:25:00)
What is evidence-based hope?
“Evidence-based hope was defined by one of my mentors, Elin Kelsey, who talks about the fact that sometimes we can’t physically see hope, but we can imagine it. Or we can understand that it exists, but we can’t see or hear it. Whereas, evidence-based hope looks at the continued progress and momentum that has been happening on the ground for local solutions. When we think about hope, we just think about praying that someone will get up and do it. Evidence-based hope is acknowledging that there are real solutions that our people are doing on the ground every day.” — Isaias (00:32:55)
Links From This Episode
- Website: Queer Brown Vegan
- Instagram: Queer Brown Vegan
- Online Platform: Conscious Fashion Collective
- Online Community: Conscious Fashion Collective Membership
- Video: Is it too late to save the planet? Evidence based hope vs climate doomism with Elin Kelsey
- Podcast Episode: EP88: What Is Regenerative Fashion? With Safia Minney
- Website: Desserto
- Website: The Or Foundation
- Website: Elin Kelsey
- Article: What is the Climate Scale?
- Article: New York therapists see surge in eco-anxiety as smoke fills skies: ‘Every client addresses it’
- Article: 12 Materials Of The Future That Could Change The Face Of Fashion
- Resource: The United Nations’ Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook
This Episode Was Brought To You By:
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