Consumers, are your choices future fit?

The questions you should be asking about the products you buy

‘You can make Earth Day the beginning of the end of pollution. You can make a world of difference. We have met the enemy and he is us.’ These were some of the slogans on posters brandished by a 20 million-strong crowd of activists who took to the streets of America in honour of the first Earth Day in 1970. 

Back to the very beginning…

These were the formative years of the Third Industrial Revolution – an age in which digital technology leapfrogged its way into the frontlines of contemporary innovation. It was an era that saw the rapid acceleration of digital technology, which drove innovations in science and marked the mainstream adoption of mass production procedures in factories across the world. 

You could think of this period in history as the ‘conveyor belt,’ era, where the inventions of leaders like Henry Ford began to inspire new ways of working and thinking about the world of work. The first Earth Day in 1970 brought together groups that had previously been divided – activists against oil spills, air pollution, large-scale power plants and the extinction of wildlife, joined forces in support of a shared goal to create a healthier, happier habitat for all life. 

Back then, the most pressing environmental concern was pollution. The onset of mass production over this period led to widespread pollution, with toxic chemicals entering the water system, discarded waste ending up in the ocean and a cloud of air pollution beginning to form over major cities. 

Activists aimed to raise awareness around the long-term negative impact that pollution can have on human development and health. And, for the first time, a cause that seemed confined to the likes of hippies and venerators of nature was taken up by the ordinary man on the street. It was a watershed moment for the world and by extension, the natural environment. 

By 1990, Earth Day had pervaded almost every segment of society and began to make its foray on the global stage. The call to recycle was growing stronger and the move to live more consciously was becoming more ubiquitous. 

A new, collection objective: climate action 

Fast-forward to today and the major focus of Earth Day has changed substantially. The newest, emerging risks involve the tangible impact of climate change and the urgent need for clean, green energy as an alternative to non-renewable power supplies. 

Interestingly; as was the case in 1970, the world finds itself on the brink of yet another Industrial Revolution. Decade after decade of industry-wide mass production produced a consumer who had little to no appreciation for how their actions and choices as individuals could impact the future. 

The breakneck speed of technological development has produced many positive results – greater collaboration, more targeted product development and a heightened level of efficiency within businesses. Unfortunately, no real progress in one direction fails to come at a cost at the other end of the spectrum. The end-product of the 70’s era was an ‘unconscious’ consumer who had an insatiable appetite for ‘more,’ no matter what the cost. 

Just a few decades later and we find ourselves in a world that is characterised by massive environmental damage and degradation. Issues such as deforestation, an increase in the frequency and magnitude of natural disasters, and loss of biodiversity present very real challenges to the wellbeing of all life on earth. 

Fortunately, the call for more sustainable industries has been taking root in the hearts and minds of everyday consumers, the heads of big business, political leaders and activists for social justice. There is however, still a lot of ground to cover.

Giving back is something everyone can do

This year, the theme for Earth Day is ‘Invest in Our Planet.’ Various initiatives and educational programmes offered by regulatory bodies and activist communities are sharing their ideas on how individuals can add their voice and hands to the move towards a more sustainable future. 

The notion of what activism is and what it means to be an advocate for change however needs to be challenged. Too often, we see activism through the lens of political upheaval, mass protests or civil unrest. And we see activists as people who are dedicated full-time to championing their causes against all odds and by any means necessary. 

While these may certainly be some of the ways in which activism materialises on the ground, activism also abides at the level of everyday households, offices, schools and places of worship. It exists at the level of individuals, who can work together to realise a shared objective for the betterment of every person rather than just a select few. 

You can be a part of positive change by recognising your role as an agent of change. Every consumer has the power to choose – to interrogate their buying decisions, to hold brands and businesses accountable and to pay-it-forward by sharing what they have learnt with their communities. 
Love the earth enough to ask the difficult questions

At Plain Tiger, we are fiercely committed to shaping a sustainable future for the fashion and luxury goods industries. We believe strongly that conscious consumers are the human building blocks of a new way of thinking about what we wear, what we fill our spaces with and what our impact is on people and the planet. You can start today by asking yourself these 3 fundamental questions:

Who made the products I buy?

The question, ‘who made my clothes?’ was the catalyst of a worldwide movement dedicated to commemorating the lives of the garment factory workers who lost their lives in the Rana Plaza collapse. Since then, initiatives like Fashion Revolution have been challenging people to find out more about the people who make the garments we so readily buy. 

We need to consider whether brands are supporting their local communities instead of outsourcing production to the cheapest source of labour. We need to think about whether the working conditions in the factories we support are suitable and conducive to employee wellbeing. We need to find out more about the stories of the artisans whose work we admire without even knowing their names.

What are the products I buy made of?

The use of virgin textiles and plastic remains one of the biggest hurdles to building a sustainable, circular economy for fashion and luxury goods. Not only do billions of pieces of discarded clothing end up in landfills, but these garments contribute to the destruction of marine biomes, upsetting the delicate balance upon which all life depends. The same applies to the broader consumer space, particularly in homeware and beauty.

Fortunately, innovative textile producers are answering the call for alternatives with textiles like vegan leather made out of fruit, vegetables and organic waste. Textiles like TENCEL™, which is made from recycled plastic fibres are one example of how technological innovation can be used for good. Several innovative beauty brands have found ways to eliminate the use of water in the production of their products and opt for natural alternatives rather than synthetic ingredients. It’s now up to consumers to ask the right questions and read the right labels. 

Will the products I buy last for a lifetime or more?

Shopping and living sustainably is about buying items that are built to last for the long haul. This is in direct opposition to the prevailing ‘throwaway’ culture where consumers buy low-quality products only to discard them soon after in pursuit of something newer and better. The key here is to make the mindset shift from a need to follow the trends to a need to transcend the trends. 

The best way to do this is to build an all-season capsule wardrobe that features a selection of classic items that will never go out of style. Likewise, in our homes, we need to think about investing in products that can be reused, recycled and repurposed over many generations rather than opting for products with limited lifespans. 

Eco-friendly brands to look out for

Of course these questions do not only apply to fashion. Conscious consumerism is a pervasive mindset shift that filters into every buying decision, including items like homeware and beauty. We’re proud to host some of the world’s most future-fit brands who give back to the environment and to the people who are so integral to preserving it for future generations. Look out for these remarkable brands who are doing their bit to make a difference:


With a Briiv Air Filter, you can literally own your own piece of nature’s magic. Using three fully biodegradable filters, Briiv uses the natural micro-structures of moss, coconut, carbon and silk to filter air, the way nature intended. Made from elephant grass and hemp, Briiv uses less plastics than any other air purifier on the market.

This range of designer homeware is bursting with colour and character, featuring some of the world’s most recognisable fauna and flora species. Founded by Cathy Mill, an entrepreneur and bibliophile with 15 years of experience in the interior design industry, CABO’s designs explore the work of the earliest botanists and ornithologists. 

All CABO art is printed on paper from a renewable source that crafts its output according to strict environmental commitments. All prints are printed to order, thereby reducing the unnecessary use of energy and resources. If a framed print is what you’re after, then rest assured that the timber for the frame is also crafted from renewable resources that do not require the use of chemical composites in the production process.
Matcha Union

Fondly referred to as a ‘green super elixir,’ matcha tea is more than just your average cuppa. Matcha Union sources its ingredients in a sustainable way, directly from Shizuoka, Japan. One of the brand’s most fundamental values reads:

“No matter what we do, we need to protect the place we all live in. And this principle underlies all our actions and our products. We strive to maximise our sustainability and minimise our carbon footprint, which means sourcing efficiently, reducing waste, recycling and teaming up with organisations that are trying to do the same. Let’s keep our planet healthy. 

Advait was launched in 2022 by Advaitha Ravishankar as a brand that would exist at the intersection of fine art and fashion. All the fabric used in the collection is hand painted using non-toxic ink and PCB-free dyes, which are not only a better choice for the environment but also a better choice for your skin.

The textiles used include Lenzing Tencel; a sustainably produced material made from wood, Recycled Polyester and Handloom Cotton made by local weaving clusters. The end products are garments that are lightweight, breathable, vibrantly coloured and bursting with personality.
Floratropia Paris

If you can imagine for just one moment, what a ‘supernatural fragrance’ smells like, you will have caught a glimpse of what fragrance brand, Floratropia Paris is all about. To make their fragrances, the team behind the brand sources the finest ingredients from organic and sustainable suppliers who invest in ethical business practices. Fragrances are 100% natural, petrochemical-free, vegan, clean and unisex. It’s got everything there is to love in a brand that doesn’t cost the earth. 
…a parting thought

This Earth Day, we resonate strongly with these words by writer William James. Internalise them, believe in your power as a consumer and make your choices count this Earth Day, and beyond.

“Act as if what you’re doing makes a difference. It does.

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