Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post

From the Grapevine: Sustainability is trending

A trend is a direction of interest, usually ignited by a drastic change or increase in popularity. Sustainability has been an element of importance for a long time, but within the past year, it has gained influence on the decision-making of producers and consumers. People have always cared, but now that care has turned into a necessity.

Oct. 31, Kim Kardashian’s brand SKIMS released a commercial for her product, the Nipple Push-up Bra, featuring built-in raised nipples. In the commercial, Kardashian, wearing her bra, used climate change as a selling point. She claimed the warmer temperatures meant people should invest in clothing that made them look cold all the time. 

The commercial raised controversy over using serious climate change concerns to sell products that do nothing for the environment. Additionally, SKIMS has been accused of “greenwashing,” or misleading consumers into believing a product is sustainable when it is not. 

Brands like SKIMS find what people care about to draw in consumers because they know brand loyalty and love are important elements to keep people buying. In a video on the future of sustainability from McKinsey and Company, Senior Partner Karl-Hendrik Magnus said the future of brand loyalty will become increasingly dependent on the sustainable attributes the brand offers.

For fast fashion brands such as Temu and Shein that are suspected of using child labor and producing large amounts of plastic waste, brand loyalty is temperamental and fragile. When weighing the pros and cons of moving toward loyalty, sustainability pulls the scale. 

Sustainability holds greater power over brand loyalty now as we see climate change effects in real time. According to the NOAA, 2023 was recorded as the hottest year on record, the first record being from 1850. With severe weather and weather-related deaths, more people are concerned.

South America’s heat wave of August and September killing four and affecting crops was made 100% more likely by recent climate change, a study by Scientific American said. Elephants are dying from droughts and young birds are dropping dead from the sky from extreme heat. This constant feed of environmental downfall ends any debate on climate change validity. 

Bain and Company released a report to guide companies in sustainability action in November. The report found that globally, 64% of consumers are extremely concerned about environmental sustainability, and the majority shared that this concern intensified over the past two years prompted by the arrival of severe weather. 

Often, we hear bad news and feel sympathetic, but do not take action until the effects are visible. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people understood the severity, but the fear did not move them to take action or imagine a resulting change in their lives. When the problem intensified and the pandemic became our reality, feelings shifted into active concern. The same thing is happening with climate change where we now see the effects in reality, no longer as a theory or future problem. 

As the problem intensifies, the best way to stay up to date and involved is through social media where new information is constantly cycled in on different platforms. Generation Z’s strength in navigating the digital world has given them an upper hand in the sustainability trend.

A report from First Insight revealed that 62% of Gen Z shoppers prefer to shop sustainably. From metal straws and reusable water bottles like the Stanley trend to the popularity of thrifting both online and in-store, Gen Z has made sustainability chic. 

In addition to media exposure, new technology in every production field offers more opportunities for change. Shampoo and conditioner bars are popular replacements for plastic containers, efficient energy is expanding and circular business models are working to reduce overproduction of products. According to the McKinsey report, 40% of garments sold are on sale and many aren’t sold at all. Cutting this overproduction and switching to a circular reselling system would remove a lot of waste that piles into landfills. 

With the internet at our fingertips, keeping up with news and environmental concerns has never been easier. Climate change will continue to worsen, but hopefully it will increasingly motivate people to make real changes. Some brands use sustainability to attract buyers without showing proof of sustainable efforts and use awareness of our new reality to spark concern for the impact of every choice.

Libby Evans is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Libby know by emailing her at

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH