“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another,” (Gandhi).
The destructive practices of the last 2 centuries reflect this thought by Gandhi entirely. Technology has improved hundred-fold, but so has destruction to our planet, to what gives us the possibility of existence. Where did this ideology shift? Were humans doomed starting with the agricultural revolution, the moment humans gained control over the nature around them 15,000 years ago? What has shaped humans into the ideology that they are better than the creatures surrounding them?
My answer of choice to this question is addressed by one of my favorite authors, Kathleen Moore,
“Not approaching, not avoiding, the seals rose and fell gently on the swell, as I rose and fell, the soft sounds of our breathing a language we shared. What would make us human beings think we’re something radically different from the other inhabitants of the natural world? Or if different, what grand leap of logic or arrogance would make us think we’re superior?” (Pine Island Paradox).
I challenge any morally sound human to enter our national parks, to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, or to develop a relationship with any living creature and not ask themselves the same question. It's an overplayed narrative. But what makes us think we are of greater quality? How did we blow this ideology so out of proportion?
Sustainable practices are a journey.
We have entered a new era. Instead of nature dictating human actuality, we determine the actuality of nature for the rest of time. What humans do now matters more than it ever has before. And so far, what we have done has left our planet irreversibly changed.
But enough of sulking in what has occurred. Enough dwelling on what could have been. Enough accepting planet earth as a doomed apparatus.
Instead, appreciate the now we are in.
We are finally on our way to success. For the first time in human existence, our population growth has slowed down. We have developed reliable sources of renewable energy. Social impact is accepted as necessary, now more than ever before. The doors have opened.
So do what you can. Find yourself captivated, inebriated in what you can do to improve the world around you. Find ways to reduce your fossil fuel usage. Find ways to increase your consumption of local cuisine. Phase single-use plastics out your everyday routine. If we put ourselves into this issue through the contribution of individuals, we can converse it in the same fashion. A reverse tragedy of the commons. There has never been a better opportunity.
Surrounding myself with an amazing network of individuals at the University of Michigan has made me appreciate this generation more than ever before. I have met the most incredible people, all who understand the necessity of doing their part in making this world a better place. The cliché terminology of "changing the world" can be done. Everyone must do their part.
I am applying this philosophy to Oshki. To be an agent for change in my local environment and the impact I am seeing to the Great Lakes on a daily basis. But my favorite part about the intersection between sustainability and business is the ability to scale one person’s desire for change. Because without my customers, what impact could I make? I could do my part, but business allows an exponential impact to be made on the planet, both good and bad. I am eager to share my passion for the Great Lakes in a more meaningful way this summer as Oshki is set to become the first fashion company of its kind to use 100% domestic plastic waste in the production of all products, including a portion of the 22,000,000 pounds of plastic that enter the Great Lakes ecosystem each year. Our supply chain is shifting to being based solely in the United States, with all members receiving fair wages. Not many companies can say the same thing.
In addition, this earth day, 100% of Oshki sales will go to nonprofits working to preserve the Great Lakes. My customers determine the impact I can make and I am thrilled to broaden this impact through the power of business as a change agent.
Have a happy Easter and an impactful earth day.
Founder - Oshki