Cup-n-Thermos; Bullshitting About Sustainability
Studies show that consumers drive demand. That is definitely true.
That said, I do believe visionary designers and producers can inspire demand, which is something a little different. Inspired demand is about making better choices across categories -- not just one product for another. Such as buying fruit and vegetables that are not packaged, but rather sold loose, because it cuts down on plastic waste.
I'm grateful there's a new generation of visionary (and female) entrepreneurs like Lauren Singer (Package Free) and Kat Lo (Eaton Workshops) who are providing leadership in in the areas of zero waste and sustainability practices. I say "practices" because in order to achieve meaningful results in these areas (of consumption) you truly have to practice what you preach every day. It's not always perfect, but the intention is important - and people are responding to them. I've had the good fortune to collaborate with Lauren to create aprons for her Package Free shop. I am also a fan and admirer of her example. She is inspiring, not just to young people but to everyone. She has transformed perceptions of zero waste practices (back) into the common sense and good for the planet practices; while making it all seem effortless and fun. I recently heard Kat Lo speak on a panel at a hospitality conference. She is building a hotel brand from the bottom-up based on sustainable practices, instead of merely paying lip service to it as this year's buzzword.
I cite these women because they inspire me to keep going on my own journey. For the past two years I have been educating restaurants, chefs, food and hospitality businesses about the value of high quality, sustainably sourced workwear. The conversation usually circles back to cost. Which is funny because I am talking about circular consumption - organic fabrics and threads, non-toxic dyes that become aprons; aprons that are ultimately compostable because of what they are made of. I strongly believe established retailers and producers who continue to buy crap, make crap and put it in crap single use plastic are going to be replaced by creative companies who understand the direction in which the world is moving. I will be happy to collaborate with them to create beautiful aprons -- that are more than just a uniform.
Fortunately, there is another powerful force in the world, besides cost, that drives the bottom line: fear.
My husband often comes to meetings with me and is, among many other things, a first rate bullshitter. Recently, we met with one of the largest local coffee roasters and retailers. They are good, nice people, but like many many other businesses, they are literally filling up the cities' waste cans with plastic crap: cups, lids, straws, etc. on a daily basis. After showing us their crap $7 aprons, they gave us some of their new cold brew, bottled in thick, plastic bottles. We didn't want to be rude, so we took it.
My husband started to tell a story (I thought "uh-oh....") ....."Have you heard about Cup-n-Thermos? It's this new zero waste coffee shop where they serve really good coffee at very low prices, but only to people who bring their own containers. It's ridiculously cool and always completely packed with students and locals who love the concept. There's literally no paper waste, no cups or plates, etc., I don't even think they have garbage cans in the place....It's amazing. People are incredibly passionate about the place.....there's often a line out the door."
The coffee guy did not look happy.
When asked where this "Cup-n-Thermos" was my husband waved his hand around vaguely and said "Oh, you know, up by Pratt, somewhere" and he got up and walked out of the meeting. Point made.
Does Cup-N-Thermos actually exist? I don't know, my husband won't tell ME exactly where it is....but I wish it existed, because I would go there, everyday, with my glass travel cup and get a good cheap coffee. His story inspired my demand for it...
The world IS changing, my dears. It will change better and faster if we all demand better options. The kind of inspired options that are being created by Lauren Singer, at Package Free, Kat Lo at Eaton Workshop and we humbly submit, by us over here at Boworkwear.