Earth Day Every Day
By Allison Miller
Every year on April 22nd, our social media feeds are filled with beautiful photos of the earth and heartfelt sentiments from our favorite brands wishing us a happy Earth Day. We are at peace for a day, spending twenty-four hours appreciating how beautiful our planet is and how much it provides for us. We walk outside, feel the sun on our face, watch a beautiful tree blossom, and we give thanks for how lucky we are to have a beautiful planet to call home.
While the brands we shop at frequently are instructing their public relations teams to post about their gratitude for the planet, the clothing they produced just a few months ago is sitting in a landfill either in the United States or overseas. Their habit of overproduction, and the overconsumption by consumers leaves garments to die in countries across the world. The same clothing that we no longer wore and dropped off at the thrift store to be resold is ultimately imported to areas like Ghana, where locals will attempt to resell it. Most of these items will eventually be discarded to a landfill, and our good deed is wasted.
A day that was originally rooted in political action for the preservation of our planet has evolved into a marketing ploy. Brands seize the chance to create an environmentally friendly image for themselves with green tags and the promise of a trace of recycled materials in their product. This greenwashing pushes the agenda that it is okay to overconsume, if the garment has a ten percent recycled material content. Campaigns that center around Earth Day are nowhere to be found in August, and consumers are left with empty promises and mistrust. Most mainstream brands do not continue their sustainability efforts year-round but try to shift their public image to appear as if they do.
Minimal traces of recycled materials and planting a tree occasionally does not constitute a “sustainability initiative”. Brands’ marketing teams attempt to create the narrative that consuming more of their “eco-friendly” product will help the earth is entirely false. Consuming responsibly, however, is the best way to fight overconsumption culture. It is simple supply and demand, if consumers demand less, brands produce less. Purchasing long-lasting, quality products, only when necessary, from brands genuinely committed to responsible practices is a tangible way to support our planet. Consumer education is the first step. Do research on your favorite brand and investigate their business practices. There is hardly hope for our planet if we do not hold some of the biggest brands in the world accountable for their behavior.
While the actions of many individuals make an environmental impact, the brands raking in millions of dollars are the ones truly holding our future in their hands. Their overproduction practices are making a massive impact on the entire planet. A simple post on social media once per year does not equal taking responsibility for an entire year of harmful practices. When you see your favorite brands' posts this month, reflect on the importance of our planet. One day out of 365 is not satisfactory for the progress that needs to be made. Earth Day is every day, not just April 22nd.