Dr. Erin Yu-Juin McMorrow holds a PhD in policy, planning and development and she has a new book called Grounded: A Fierce, Feminine Guide to Connecting with the Soil and Healing from the Ground Up. In the introduction of the book, she writes “The root of the climate crisis is an invitation to heal our individual and collective root chakra.” She has volunteered for the documentary Kiss the Ground (please watch the documentary on Netflix if you still have not) and shares that only then has she realized the link between soil health and the climate crisis. She had also acknowledged that her intense academic approach to depicting the climate crisis did not filter to the people and that the relationship needed to be a spiritual and personal journey to be communicated.
I could not help but envy Dr. Erin; as she has fulfilled my dream to go to Bali and download, coming out with her book in the end. She provides an intuitive, clear link of industrial and everyday systems to the carbon cycle. Dr. Erin`s referral to the root chakra ( and yes she too has yoga training just as I did) connects the strong foundation, safety, regeneration and healing to the soil life – our life.
Working in the fashion industry; we do not need to be climate experts, but we need to understand the carbon cycle, its link to the soil health and grasp a soil to soil circularity of our value chain. The impact of the industry and how it connects to the ecosystems. The very transformation that we require and appeal to (in order to initiate a circular fashion proposal), needs to be mapped out of the expansive collective system where so many parties operate and converge.
I might be starting a difficult conversation and taking my audience a little bit off the track but please hear me out if you would. We really have to stop thinking and acting in silos. Everything is linked as we have experienced 1st hand during the pandemic (and continue to do so). The climate crisis displacing people in water-stressed lands, the ecosystems, the pollution, our collective health, wellness, prosperity, poverty are all parts of the collective, connected whole. Could the fashion industry aim to be regenerative (couple of miles from being sustainable) and grant healing the soil as well as the people in the value chain? Can we collectively heal through fashion?
Do not take me as a dreamer as working on the field. I am aware of the multiple challenges, the loop-holes, the impossibilities but I also think that we can do better. Much better. The technology, the expertise, the experience, the structure (as well as the necessity) all exist, and it boils down to setting our minds to making it all work. That is where we are missing out as we have been feeding on the current linear system dynamics and not linking the consequences to the actions.
The global fashion system is configured on the calculation to make cheaper clothes to sell more and both sides of the equation are not adding up. Making it cheaper is depleting the limited resources, contaminating what we hold dear as life (our ecosystems, biodiversity) as well as diminishing human life to a bare level of staying alive on discounted labor. The other side of the formula is that we are left with the 90 million tons of textile waste, with only %1 of textiles being recycled into textiles, 150 million trees being torn down for fiber production, is also not working.
Many brands from multinational corporations to local businesses have been presenting increased sensitivity towards social and environmental challenges. There has been a spike in R&D in developing solutions to tackle waste, enhance recycling, regenerate design to be a cure for longer use and end of life cycle disposal. The practice of unusual partnerships that move beyond continents and competition aiming to co-create a dialogue on the existing framework and diverse transformational propositions are hitting the headlines. Yes, the greenwashing still continues but the fashion users are asking how to differentiate the good, the bad and the ugly.
The soil to soil circularity also presents a 2 sided formula and the fashion industry has to understand the link to the soil regeneration for a full circular fashion system. Gladly, profound stakeholders like the Kering Foundation as well as the brands such as Timberland, Outland, Christy Dawn, Patagonia have long started working on the field to bring soil health as a part of their brand value offer. A major part of the market is still using a diluted version and focusing on the single products tagged to have recycled content, organic cotton, sustainable fibers. We need the brands and the value chain to root their feet into the soil and feel their chakras in action!
Recently I have been invited to multiple Climate Crisis titled seminars from Universities as a speaker and presenting my Climate Crisis in My Wardrobe series and I am truly enjoying the questions that Gen Z are placing. They want to understand, to connect the dots. They hold a better understanding of both the personal and the collective healing urge that the climate crisis has imposed.
Beware as younger generations are gathering information, knowledge and raising awareness they are getting ready to unleash regeneration as a revolution.