Don’t hate the player, hate the game – and other slogans we have never used when talking to our customers here at Homethings. Yet this approach is something that we have seen crop up time and time again by huge conglomerates who suggest that the climate crisis is your issue to solve, and not theirs.
Now, whilst we agree that in order to be successful, everyone needs to do their bit (which in turn, creates habit shifts and consumer change) it’s also pretty shady for the big dogs to be washing their hands of any social or sustainable responsibility. The bottom line is: if you create it, market it, and sell it at a much more competitive price because you’ve cut corners somewhere – then the people will buy it. And why wouldn’t they? As consumers, our aim is simple: to find the best product that not only serves its purpose, but for the right price. Can we really be shaming our little sister Chloe for her PLT habit when they continue to pump out dresses for £1?
The short answer is: no. If we move the conversation away from fast fashion and take a look at some of the world’s biggest polluters, for example, Shell – who recently had a #fail on Twitter with their poll asking ‘what are you doing to become more sustainable’? The problem with this isn’t whether or not people choose ‘recycling more’ or ‘buying less’ but about how we got into this mess in the first place. And that’s where brands are to blame, not customers.
According to the BBC, “a major report released in 2017 attributed 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions over the previous two decades to just 100 fossil fuel producers.” And, surprise surprise, that list includes companies like Shell. Perhaps shockingly (or not) from 1988 to 2015, just 25 fossil fuel producers are linked to 51% of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions. And, you guessed it, one of the highest emitting companies over the period since 1988 is Shell. Again.
Now, we’re not here to bash Shell. But their marketing strategy appears to be problematic, using consumers as the core people to blame for our environmental crisis, and thus detracting from the large corporations, systems and governments that hold the key to real, mass change.
Here at Homethings, our view is that these changes need to come from the top. That is why we hold ourselves continuously accountable to review our own supply chains, create impact reports to assess our own impact and create an open culture to learn how we can improve and hold our hands up when we’ve not got something quite right. Unsurprisingly, it always appears to be the smaller, independent brands (see: Toast Ale) who are driving real change and challenging the industry leaders on the status quo.
So. Let’s change the narrative. Let’s not feel like, as a consumer, the ice-caps melting is our fault because of that one time we forgot to take our Chilly’s bottle out. Let’s hold stakeholders and decision makers to driving real, genuine change, that will help in the fight against the climate crisis.