Following his collaboration with GANT for its Remake Heavy Rugger collection, the author, artist, and climate activist imparts his wisdom on managing your consumption
With the world on a slow crawl back to normality (whatever that means these days), now is the perfect time to examine our harmful practices and their impact on the planet – namely overconsumption – and swiftly put in place countermeasures before it’s too late.
While it may sound like a tall order, especially to those of us who aren’t Greta Thunberg, in fact, if we all take a few simple steps, the impact would be huge. For artist and climate activist Wilson Oryema, being mindful of his consumption, especially when it comes to his fashion choices, is paramount – illustrated by his recent partnership with GANT for its Remake Heavy Rugger collection.
If you haven’t already, read more here, but in short, the project saw the Oryema come together with the brand’s creative director Christopher Bastin to discuss how the label has been implementing more sustainable practices – including when it comes to its latest project, which sees the iconic Heavy Rugger crafted using off cuts and scraps.
Aligned in their mission to implement real and impactful countermeasures to the waste that fashion can produce, we catch up with Oryema to learn about his resources on sustainability and musings on how we can all make a difference.
What are some easy first steps everyone should take towards sustainable consumption?
Wilson Oryema: Ask yourself ‘why?’ several times before engaging in any form of consumption. It could be a purchase, watching something, or anything for that matter. These can go in the form of:
Q: I want to buy that shirt.
Doing this 2-3 times can help provide a lot of clarity on your habits and behaviour. For clarity, you could instead ask yourself: ‘What value do I seek to gain from this choice/action?’. There isn’t always a clear right/wrong or yes/no (same as all things in life) but it’s more about having a clear reason for your actions and assuming full responsibility for them.
What types of sustainable materials do you look for when purchasing new clothing from a brand?
Wilson Oryema: It depends. You have to look at the bigger picture when deciding to purchase from a brand, as how sustainable a material is can entirely depend on who is producing it, where/how it’s sourced, and so on. But, personally, I am more inclined to natural fibres before anything else. However, again, even that is dependent on the brand.
How do you outline your priorities in terms of consumption?
Wilson Oryema: My current framework is something like the following example.
What is a positive outcome I want to see (or a negative outcome I don’t want to see) in the future > What would cause such a possibility? > Are things already heading in that direction making this outcome likely? > How can I make that a more likely outcome or steer us away from it? > Is there anyone I can work with to make this possible? > Go from there.
“Focus on and amplify the brands and individuals you believe in. Or if you see nothing to be encouraged by, like the old saying goes, be the change you want to see in the world” – Wilson Oryema
What do you think of sustainable shopping like Depop, with so many packages being sent out daily?
Wilson Oryema: I admire the large impact that platforms such as Depop have had on interest in pre-owned and DIY fashion. Effectively, reducing the amount of materials, packaging, and resources that are drained for new (mostly mass market) products. On the other hand, like you mentioned, it does exacerbate the individual shipping and packaging consumption problem we face.
However, there is no perfect way to a better future. On this path, we will stumble and expose problems we never noticed or gave much attention to, and on some fronts we will temporarily ‘lose ground’ to gain more elsewhere. It’s somewhat like that whack-a-mole arcade game: you knock one down and another problem rises up in another place, until you’ve eventually solved all problems or you lose and the game is over.
I believe Depop does considerably more good than harm, and I know there are large efforts in the works by many to reduce the negative consequences of packaging, whether that be the materials used or how operational logistics are carried out.
Where do you look for simple advice and information on sustainability?
Wilson Oryema: I would highly recommend following any of these pages on Instagram: @ecoage, @fash_rev, @earthrise.studio, and @venetialamanna.
What can teenagers do to push sustainability in fashion?
Wilson Oryema: Focus on and amplify the brands and individuals you believe in. Or if you see nothing to be encouraged by, like the old saying goes, be the change you want to see in the world.