The year of 2015 has been quite exciting for me. Many events, such as the fashion week in Stockholm last year (with focus on the water issue), but also the COP21 in Paris kicked in as an additional motivator to change my private life style. I guess the majority of us recognises themselves in the situations to “just wait a bit longer to change”, “next time I do better”, “it requires too much effort and time” and hence postpone actions that are nagging constantly in our minds. Despite these kind of events, I have some additional reasons that filled up the glass and made me realise that I should not wait any longer. As I love to write diaries, I find it natural to reflect what and who is driving me and the actions that I take. Some of these decisions have impacted my everyday life quite substantially and I thought that this could be interesting for “others” to read. But before I explain in greater detail what I have been changing so far and what I am planning to change, I would like to be honest about why I decided to write about this.
Since I have started my PhD at Stockholm School of Economics and Misum, I have been increasingly exposed to quite some criticism. Not only for my academic performance, but also for my lifestyle. As soon as I am pitching my PhD thesis subject and my motivations behind it, my environment reacts like this: “So what should I do to be a more sustainable person? What do you do in your private life to live more sustainable? Can one shop at all? Where can you buy things without having a bad conscious?” Usually, I respond like this: “Consume less. Inform yourself about the firms and how they source their material, what their social policies are and if they are successful in implementing it. Also, consider if you really need these things or if they are just trendy to have.” Wait… WHAT?? That sounds very time consuming coupled with lots of effort and achieves rather demotivation than motivation. It is so easy for me to confidently recommend people what to do, because during my previous work, I have followed auditors around the globe for checking up on the compliance for all kinds of certifications in all kinds of industries. Additionally, since I have started my PhD, I am reading everyday about smart solutions and ideas as well as theories that promise to turn (partially) the world into a better place. But what in fact can I do, what easy solutions are readily waiting for me out there, what substitutes can I opt for, and are these truly better? Apparently it has become trendy to think about environment and the consequences of our life style. Personally, I feel that the idea to brand oneself as a “feminist, conscious and sophisticated” person, but that is really easier said than done.
It seems that just as in academia, also in private life, there is no black or white solution as in right or wrong. It is a matter of all kinds of colours that should please one personally about living their life. So I just go with what feels right for me and aim to proof that with little dedication and some research, it is comes easy to every consumer to contribute tor a sustainable world.
Without trying to preach the traditional evangelism of sustainability, this should be rather a show case of an attempt towards positive change. Within the next year, I am planning to reflect on my previous experiences and resulting actions, my motivations and struggles, but also try to find support in literature or documentaries. The focus will be on sustainable fashion, because this is my core interest, but I will also include other small changes too. I am sure that along my journey, my peers once again will push me to reconsider certain decisions and be more critical about what I am doing. I hope there will be some inspiring discussions.
Written by: Tina Sendlhofer, PhD student at Misum