From permaculture to slow clothing: Active citizens have something valuable to say.

There is an important (and inspiring) number of people moving from being passive consumers to active citizens, and though this call to action can be challenging, as it’s so easy to doubt the influence of small groups, food and frocks are two major global industries where grassroots activism offers a scalable solution to the climate of scarcity / climate emergency on planet earth. One thing active citizens agree on is that we can’t buy ourselves out of the mess we are in, instead, it is about scaling the mindset of buying less, buying better and making things last.

Slow food and slow fashion enterprises are a conscious development pushing against their much bigger and dysfunctional counterparts found in large scale agriculture and fast fashion. And while food and fashion are both inevitably sourced from the earth, it is vital to understand the way in how they are sourced if we are to take greater control over the damage done by the ‘bigger is better’ collective.

tumeric dye, natural dye

What we are mostly challenged with, is the disappearance of what a truly equitable supply chain might look like, most of us are not even aware of the way we have made value cognitive with the cheapest price we can obtain something. Fast fashion brands and Agribusiness typify supply chains that has been championed by the masses, who also have the inability to see the huge costs associated with their perceived wins, this is understandable given the golden rule of global supply chains - creating collective amnesia through divide and conquer. Large scale business is built on the dislocating principle of economies of scale, breaking the connection between makers and consumers, extracting as much from people and planet whilst giving as little as possible back, good growth being constant linear growth - everything that localised business are not.

Embedding the true cost of production into the market for goods and services would require the highly unlikely event of opting into corporate social responsibility, businesses such as Zara, H&M and the ultra fast fashion e-commerce platforms like Shein can change the value spectrum by paying proper wages, by looking to eliminate the mountains of textile waste, by sourcing sutainable fabrics, and designing for style not trend - which of course they will not do until it is compulsarily mandated by Governments - which they will not do - until the consumer realises they are the ones who actually have the power to vote with their dollar. Of course food production is more complex - we could stop making fashion on our planet and we would still have excess clothing, this is obviously not the case with food. The point is, while the onus (and consequently focus) should not be on the individual - we are the ones that have the greatest potential power to transform such costly destruction on earth.

stepping away

‘Thinking tools, when used together, allow us to creatively re-design our environment and our behaviour in a world of less energy and resources’ Principles of Permaculture.

Thinking tools are the most freely available resources at our disposal to bring transformative solutions to our biggest problems. Most advocates of slow clothing and slow food - particularly those over the age of 30, have most likely had a conscious awakening of sorts, realising that the way we engage in our markets just doesn’t make sense.

There are a few fundamental shifts in mindset that are required if we are to transition to more harmonious ways to play, work and live together as demonstrated by active citizens, foremost is the move from consensus thinking and into our common sense, it means having the courage to trust your gut-heart connection, and move towards your own sense of integrity. When the market ‘signals’ a product is so cheap that you can bypass using it and throw it straight into landfill (note we waste up to 30% of our shopping trolley and wear new clothes an average of 7 times before discarding) - you just know something is wrong - even if it feels like everyone is doing it! We have to re-evaluate what has worth.

You can see why people who are actively engaged in conscious consumerism are widely undervalued (this being kind), because they are actioning for a value spectrum with an uncomfortable accounting system for the consensus - common sense commands different measurements, metrics that reflect the unseen, the unaccounatable, the unsightly, values that are imbued with equity, dignity and gratitude not greed. Active citizenship offers a much broader consideration of our eco-nomic systems. It asks us to draw on our commonalities and put our isolationist, seperatist ways of being to rest. It requires us to step into our bigger selves.

One of the most obvious critiques of active citizenship is that ‘not everyone can afford to’ - this is true, so the ones amongst us that can do better - should. Where there is room for a foundational shift is personally waking up to your own level of scarcity consciousness - most of us have an enourmous capacity for reevaluating worthiness and when we do this we bring our attention to what we have rather than what we lack, and when we do this - our choices change for the better. Addressing scarcity consciousness doesn’t require more money or time or work, it just requires looking around, thinking this doesn’t make sense, believing you can do something about it and doing it in your own way - active citizens do this every day and that is why we can learn so much from them. What do we have to lose?


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