The four principles for empowerment – Beauty, Ethics, Comfort and Artistry– show up in the life we make for ourselves in a variety of ways. Personally they empower us as individuals, while materially they empower and elevate the objects we enjoy.
The fashion industry has a tremendous impact on the world (in eight particular areas) as a result of these four qualities not being present.
An icon and role model of mine, William McDonough, says that Excessive Carbon Emissions are a Design Failure. My heart is saddened by our past failings to humankind and to all elements and beings.
As designers we could have done it better. For a variety of reasons we didn’t.
On behalf of all the designers and #visionaries, whose ideas, pies in skies, dreams, flying pigs, and imaginations are the seeds of everything manifested in this world, I apologize for our failures. And with heartfelt intention we now strive to deliver you something extraordinary, something beautiful, and healthy for all.
I believe this is how design should be done:
Design is the first sign of intention.
What kind of future do we want to make in this world? Who do we want to become? Designing is an existentialist process. Everything in our world is a result of the origins of intention. What is our goal, where do we want to go?
Do you think society would allow people to pour lead all over our highways and our watercourse like we used to? It took thirteen years to get lead out of our gasoline once science and society realized how dangerous it was…Did we really intend to give our children brain damage? And once we knew, did we really intend to perpetuate that? Isn’t that known as negligence? When you know better, do you do it anyway? Really, is that our plan? -William McDonough
Design carries the burden and the heavy weight of responsibility. It’s like bringing a child into the world, it’s a huge responsibility, and we are seeing the negligence of that very clearly today. So, intention is very important; that is where it all begins.
In the same way, every woman who wakes up and asks herself ‘What do I want to wear today?’ also starts with intention.
I think a lot of women are concerned about how they look for very good reason: it is a form of communication to their friends, co-workers, people they need to make a business deal with, people they want to go on a date with, mothers they want to accept their child to play with. It’s not superficial to care about how we look, which is to say: care about what we are communicating, and care about how we will fit into different social situations. So, each woman in the morning begins with intention ‘What do I want to communicate?’ and ‘How do I want to feel?’.
Helping women feel comfortable and confident is one primary purpose of women’s fashion, and a lot of advertising plays on that (sometimes unfortunately they use it to manipulate women too).
What is the difference between acknowledging the truth of this and using it to manipulate women? I think it’s about intention, that’s all. Think about the difference between a man who is designing a high-heeled shoe, like Christian Louboutin who openly says, “It is not my job to create something comfortable“, vs. a female designer who is designing for the benefit of the woman in mind. To me, there is a fine line and the main difference is intention, all starting with the designer. A lot of fashion right now is focused on sales, so it has to look good on a hanger, not necessarily on you. A lot of retailers won’t stock wrap-dresses for that reason; they just don’t look attractive on hangers. Fashion design, since passing through the industrial revolution, has become disconnected from the people who wear garments, and the design intentions are sloppy as a result of that.
Whether we are designing a shoe, a building or just designing our life, we all start with intention, and the outcome of our efforts is what we intend (or fail to). So let’s start there.
What we put into this world is what people will receive. Let it be sweet, let it be loving.
As an act of love, the design should care, in other words, it should have integrity.
Design was always meant to be an act of caring. Someone had a problem and we cared to make a solution. That is design essentially, after we strip away ulterior motivations of money and fame.
Most people fail to wear clothing that aligns with issues that they verbally rally against (human trafficking, slavery, environmental degradation, deforestation, animal cruelty) because they are often unaware of what they are actually wearing and the impacts it has. Loving people everywhere are missing out simply because they don’t know about the connections, or they can’t find brands who design with love and integrity.
Designing with love and integrity doesn’t mean that everything is perfectly aligned with integrity. It most likely is not. The supply chains are full of limitations. Wherever one can choose good, they ought to.
When I talk with other designers about this, some people in the industry say to me “It’s really hard to cover every base and still earn a living from fashion.” And this is what I tell them: I’d rather live with a begging bowl than earn my food at the cost of someone else’s life and liberty. Everyone makes their choices. No one is forced to exploit people and the planet to make a living, it is a choice. It’s about personal integrity. And, a brand can only have integrity if the people in charge do.
There was a time when humans wore pieces of bark to cover themselves.
Fashion should take nothing for granted. Clothing could be as simple as a strip of fabric wrapped and tied (many cultures have and still do this).
Design should start by asking some basic questions like “What is essential?” And from there, listing the essentials and prioritizing them.
Color, for example, is a luxury, not something we should take for granted. Polluting the scarce amount of fresh water we have on this planet (which most dyeing processes do) is not a requirement. It’s a very unintelligent choice (to put it politely), a greedy decision by a few which has devastating consequences for all.
Most fashion designers and manufacturers design with unquestioned expectations and unchecked entitlements. Swimwear brands, for example, say they can’t find anything better than recycled polyester. When I offer, How about wool or organic cotton? they’ll quote the performance aspects, rather than reflecting, “Perhaps our performance expectations come with too great a cost? And maybe they are not in line with our values?”. There is a trace of that same colonial mentality that has gotten us into this mess: “We’re going to bend nature to our will and conquer”. Few brands approach design with “How can we work in harmony with what is here?” The difference is privilege. And entitlement. I wish more designers stepped back and considered their assumptions. What I would like to tell everyone is:
Color is a privilege, not a right!
I shocked one woman, a painter, when I said that to her. It rocked her world as she pondered it for days and days. It changed her relationship with her art, totally. We take so much for granted. Putting color on fabric is not a requirement. It is one of the most polluting parts of textile production. We can stop it today. Simple. But no one does that. I have seen one brand among thousands acknowledge this. Period.
Just because we can doesn’t mean we should applies to the atomic bomb as much as it applies here. That is why intention is #1.
What else are we taking for granted? So much.
Which leads me to…
Action & Inaction.
Doing nothing is an action. Saving someone from drowning is a direct action. Watching someone drown while ‘doing nothing’ is also an action. There is a time and a place for both, for positive or negative outcomes. The right action to do when all your friends decide to drink and drive is inaction.
You can respect the endangered golden lion tamarin in Brazil. And you will be paying your respects long after they are all dead. If you do nothing to support them, encourage them, design for them, they will disappear. You can’t just put them in a frame and respect them. -William McDonough
This is how I feel about design right now. Personally, I spent a lot of years in the place of inaction, and avoiding the bad. I didn’t want to be a part of this mess we’re in. But then, it dawned on me that we are losing beauty, integrity, and cherished things that I want to see prosper. Both action and inaction have their places. So, there is this nuanced and carefully thought out relationship with action and inaction.
Caring design looks at things very deeply and holistically, the full picture of what turns the molecules into material and back down to molecules and what impacts are there for each step of this journey. The origins and the ends. It may not be perfect, but it is well thought out to be the best that it can be.
This is the way designers can calculate the impacts of their decisions. This is where they plot their intentions and cross-check how close they are to being on track. A lot of designers only think about origins, because that part heavily influences their production and their vision. Things are changing and people are very conscious about the end too -is it going into the landfill, will it be recyclable or compostable? But truthfully, there is no end. There is only a ‘next use’ because molecules don’t end.
So what is the journey and the impact of this thing I am bringing into the world from molecule back to molecule? How does it begin and what is the process it needs to go through to begin again? William McDonough describes this as ‘design for the next use’. This touches upon my disapproval of recycled polyester garments. They are not thinking about those tiny plastic molecules and what that will become of them. This is the problem right now, a very tragic problem, a designing-without-intention problem. Adidas did very well with their ‘futurecraft loop’ shoe, thinking in this way. They designed a shoe that is not bought but rented. You return the shoe and it gets re-made into a new shoe infinite times. The molecules never die, they become nutrients for the next life.
How will that luminous material being designed become not only a fashion magazine cover story but also a rag and eventually soil? Or if not soil, a technical object designed for and maintained in the technosphere, made back into useful objects of the same high-quality material, used again and again without entering or contaminating the wearer or the biosphere: a polyester T-shirt (no antimony!), for example, which becomes a fleece, which becomes a safe polyester toy, which becomes clothing, which becomes containers, which becomes clothing…in the continuous sequence of its next becoming. ~William McDonough & Michael Braungart ‘Upcycle’
This is the circular model. This is the future.
It is not ours but something moving through us for the world. We are not the owners of anything. We borrow. The question is, how can we borrow and return it in a good condition?
Molecules matter. Materials Matter. Intention alone is not enough. In the world of action and design, materials are key. And they need to be carefully selected.
Doing less bad and consuming less is currently the common global goal. Except ‘less bad’ is still bad, just less so. Wouldn’t consuming good and doing good be a better goal to strive for? (This comes directly from William McDonough & Michael Braungart’s work)
The fashion industry is especially relevant at this point in time because globally the negative impacts of this industry are so bad that it’s almost all up from here. People are actively searching for ‘less bad’ and ‘good’ clothing options. As an industry, we have an opportunity to provide that.
Here are some ways to think about it, by all means, not an exhaustive list, but a glimpse:
|DYES: Toxic Dyes||DYES: Low-Impact Dyes||DYES: Nutritive & Medicinal Dyes|
|WHITENERS: Bleach||WHITENERS: Hydrogen Peroxide||WHITENERS: Natural Color|
|FINISHES: Toxic & Chemical finishes for softness, waterproofing, fire-retardant, stain-repellency, wrinkle-resistance, etc.||FINISHES: Low-Impact Finishes||FINISHES: Nutritive Finishes (ex. A baby sucks on her balnket and receives vitamin C)|
|FIBERS: Polyester, Nylon, Acrylic, Spandex, Polyurethane, etc. made from virgin petroleum||FIBERS: Polyester, Nylon, Acrylic, Spandex, Polyurethane, etc. made from post-consumer recycled plastic and Reclaimed Ocean Plastic||FIBERS: Post-consumer recycled plastic in a closed-loop technical system re-making medical and food-grade plastics. Clothing fibers made from biological nutrients that stay and biodegrade in the biological system.|
|LEATHER TANNING: Chromium-tanning||LEATHER TANNING: Industrial vegetable-tanning||LEATHER TANNING: Tanning done by hand with reclaimed natural materials|
|WASTE: Chemical dumping||WASTE: Chemical waste ‘treatment’||WASTE: Closed-loop chemical processing like Tencel & Lyocel, eliminating the concept of waste.|
|CARBON: Carbon-releasing materials (not in closed loop systems), like petroleum-based fibers||CARBON: Zero emissions and carbon-offsetting||CARBON: Carbon sequestering materials (like this example of climate-beneficial wool)|
|PACKAGING: Packaging that cuts down old-growth forests, the rainforest, and our planet’s lungs and makes that material a toxin through layers of plastic coatings and toxic inks.||PACKAGING: Recycled paper packaging with vegetable inks (preferably not GMO soy).||PACKAGING: Packaging that sprouts a field of native wildflowers for the endangered honey bees and nourishes the growth of trees with compost nutrients.|
|LABOR: Sweatshops, slavery, rape and human trafficking||LABOR: Human rights compliance, minimum wages and non-descrimination||LABOR: Pride, celebrated and rewarded livelihoods, success measured by an index of happiness & wellbeing|
|MANUFACTURE: Factories that have not passed safety inspections, kill employees and leave children motherless and orphaned (like this).||MANUFACTURE: Safe factories||MANUFACTURE: Home-based production where children can be with their mothers (like this brand, Indigenous, does)|
|PRODUCTION: Overseas mass-produced, factories in majority world countries at exploitative wages||PRODUCTION: Locally Produced, factories in home countries at living wages or fair trade||PRODUCTION: Beautiful and heart-felt regional production|
|COTTON: Conventional cotton||COTTON: Organic cotton||COTTON: Heirloom cotton breeds that are naturally pest resistant, require no dyes or finishes, are not mono-cropped and share water resources equitably.|
|FARMING: Conventional and GMO farming that depletes topsoil, kills bees, butterflies, soil organisms and grazing animals who feed on the plants; consumes vast amounts of fresh water and returns it in a toxic state, disrupting the chemistry and biology of the environment surrounding it.||FARMING: Organic farming that kills targeted insects rather than all insects, disturbs the surrounding environment with naturally derived chemicals that will ‘someday’ be useful to life around it, and returns water in an organic form that creates biological rather than toxic disruptions like algae-blooms.||FARMING: Biodynamic and restorative farming that provides habitat for ‘beneficial’ and pest-controlling predators, builds soil and plant health so that the plants are strong and both pest and disease resistant, returns clean drinking water to the community.|
|SILK: Boiling silk moths while they are inside their cocoons||SILK: Collecting old silk cocoons after the moths have flown free|
|WOOL: Mutilating sheep (Mulesing)||WOOL: Bathing sheep in insecticides & providing antibiotics||WOOL: Breeding and maintaining healthy and happy sheep|
|LEATHER & FUR: Poaching, factory-farming and killing animals for their furs and skins.||LEATHER & FUR: Large scale animal husbandry for fur and skin.||LEATHER & FUR: Supporting animals to lead happy, carefree and natural lives, claiming and using their furs and skins of those whose lives have ended naturally, before returning it to the earth where it is destined to go when we are finished.|
|ADVERTISING: Objectifying advertisements of anorexic, airbrushed and surgically deformed women (like this one or this one)||ADVERTISING: Equality advertisements with various body types (like this one).||ADVERTISING: Focusing on something besides superficial appearance, body size and shape to be proud of, celebrating and empowering unique beauties (like this one with abnormal facial hair, or this one without make-up) for their enriching contributions and talents to our lives.|
|TRADE: Free Trade||TRADE: Fair Trade||TRADE: Local Trade and focus of self sufficiency|
Trust and transparency are key to where the fashion world is going.
Transparency is an act from the brand/manufacturer, and trust as an act from colleagues/customer. Trust comes from the people but honesty comes from a brand. Trust can be given whether transparency is there or not. There are a lot of consumers today who give away their trust too easily. They think they are buying and wearing a sustainable and ethical option but they are misinformed and it’s not. These people are simply misled by dishonest advertising or advice. But eventually the truth will come out. The only long-term path back to trust is transparency.
Most people are being tossed around by marketing messages, chasing after something that feels true for them, aesthetically and ethically and yet never catching it.
Why? Because they industry is full of so many lies right now.
“It’s the Wild West out there right now,” says Paul Magelat CGS, “Brands can tout what they want to tout. It’s not like there’s a government-mandated label that says ‘To use ‘sustainable’, it has to have these tenets.”
How do they fool us over and over?
In two ways:
The first is that a giant brand may do a huge ad campaign on a single ‘eco-product’ while continuing its dirty practices in the other 99% of its clothes.
The second is that they narrow in on a single slice of their product and tell you what you want to hear (while hiding the nasty stuff).
For example, you might have heard of this new material Piñatex that claims it is biodegradable pineapple leaves, but actually only 80 percent of this is true, the other 20% is not biodegradable. True transparency covers everything from the farmer to the spinner, the weavers and all the way down the chain of every molecule and every hand that touched it to you.
Hiding the nasties is not solving our problems. That is just a design failure. They’ll tell you that it is made with organic cotton but they won’t tell you that it is covered in a toxic slew of chemicals, including an animal-fat fabric softener and unregulated quantities of formaldehyde to keep it wrinkle-free among many other nasty compounds. And they certainly won’t tell you that it was made by slaves, or by abused women.
If we were to narrow in on just one of those circles, environment, for example, you would see how many slices of ‘green’ the issue is:
Too many brands right now are creating a lot of hype and publicity around recycled ocean plastic for their material, failing to inform the public that these microfibers will go back into the environment in a far more toxic and problematic way. This is what recycled ocean plastic looks like when examined holistically:
I believe it’s time for accountability where brands become fully transparent and educate, letting the people decide what they need and whether this fits. Trust has been abused, so I think it is time to open the kitchen door and so nothing they’re cooking up is marked ‘private’. Once upon a time, we trusted our government when they sent young men and women to war. Then those reporters got on the ground in Vietnam, got behind sealed lips and closed doors, and public opinion changed. This day of reckoning is coming for the fashion industry.
Sustainability is not black or white, but shades, and each individual needs clear and transparent information about their garments from labels and manufacturers to decide if it fits with their values or not; in addition to assessing the fit of their aesthetics, physical fit and communication needs.
For example, there are different kinds of vegans out there. One vegan may love recycled leather, while another may balk at anything from animal origin. The conclusions are deeply personal, and as such I feel the labels and marketing should leave it that way.
What NO one is doing out there is letting the customer decide if it is a fit with their values and priorities. Most brands are saying ‘This is right for you’, when it may not be. I don’t want to do that. Trust has been abused so we should take away that right to withhold information. I take a strong stance that brands should not be the ones to make claims and foregone conclusions about their own products, like ‘vegan’ ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘sustainable’. This has and is being abused to manipulate opinions.
I believe brands and manufacturers are obligated to be transparent and to leave the concluding to the buyer and third-party certifications.
Why aren’t more brands transparent about what goes into their clothing?
The first reason is that, if you knew, you would be less likely to buy it.
The second reason most brands can’t be fully transparent is because they don’t actually know their supply chains. Even companies that try, fail because there are so many middlemen and everyone is trying to cheat someone and get ahead, so things are shrouded in deceit. Proprietary-ness. It should be illegal. That privilege has come and gone, now we all have a right to know.
If I had a crystal ball, I would predict that, over the next five years, fashion as a trend and institution is going to collapse. The market is going to explode with sustainability claims left and right, competing for trust and leadership, and many will be exposed as shams and frauds. More and more greenwashing claims will come to light. Environmental and human rights abuses will come to light. People won’t know how to trust in the fashion world anymore, and imperfect but bravely transparent brands will hold loyalty more than anyone else. Quality and investment pieces will rise.
More often than not, the price is not an accurate reflection of how much was spent on materials and labor, so, high prices are not better guarantees of fair labor and good quality materials. It can be an indication of it, but usually is not. Higher cost ‘luxury brand’ items still exploit people and the land for higher profits. Most of the press and bad rap has been going towards brands like H&M, and other fast-fashion retailers but they are not the only ones. Watch the film ‘The True Cost’ to get up to speed about who pays the cost if it’s not you.
Essentially, if you are not paying a fair price, and the brand is not paying a fair price, someone is paying for that somewhere, with their health, with their suffering, and eventually in some way you and your loved ones too through cancer, through climate crisis events and so on.
Climate change is estimated to cost us $69 trillion in the next 80 years. Does that include medical bills and insurance premiums? Premature loss of life? How can we calculate that? How can we put a price on the extinction of the Orangutan?
We all pay one way or another. Let’s stop this charade and be upfront about it, let’s pay the fair price to begin with to do the right thing.
I could go on about why price matters, because it matters a lot. It is what drives our economy and the decisions companies are making today, and the decisions people make every moment when comparing products and what to buy.
Paying the true cost gives people a livelihood so that they can continue.
Paying the true cost gives a farmer security so that he doesn’t cut corners with pesticides behind our backs.
Paying the true cost frees designers to make the best design decisions without sacrificing integrity.
Since the industrial revolution we haven’t paid the true cost for clothes. It’s time now.
There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness. -Mahatma GandhiCan you call something ‘beautiful’ with so much violence woven into the fabric, with so much death and suffering left behind its wake? I believe it is time to redefine and take back beauty. Enduring beauty is something beyond the make-up you wear. It’s the light behind your eyes, the grace in your generosity and humility in your step. While a face will grow old, enduring beauty never fades. The same is true for fashion. I don’t care about trends or seasons. Externally speaking, styles may change, but enduring beauty possess a truth that is timeless. That timeless beauty is inherently better for the planet than disposable trends and out-of-fashion seasons.
If it’s beautiful….
The top values don’t have to just ecology and equity; they could be more playful. How can I make something that is beautiful? For people around the world, tyranny represents a form of ugliness. If humans design without values such as beauty in mind, they will cause what can be characterized as “intergenerational remote tyranny”: determining that those in the future will suffer and/or have less opportunity, health, choice, and freedom because of our actions today. -Upcycle
- it’s going to be used for the purpose it was created, not demoted to the dungeons of your closet.
- it’s going to stick around longer, be better cared for because you want it to last.
- you’re going to wear it with pleasure and enjoyment. it makes you feel good when you are out in the world, makes you feel confident, secure, connecting and belonging with others, uplifts your self-esteem, allows you to brave vulnerability.
- you’re going back for more. You want to look and feel that good in all your clothing, so you continue to invest and support that brand.
If it is not wearable, it is a design failure or a wrong-person failure. Or it is an art piece. And if it’s sitting in the back of a closet and not being worn, it is a waste of every resource that went into making it.
Comfort, despite what a few designers may feel, is one of the 8 principle purposes of wearing clothing. It solves a lot of our problems. Most trendy and aspiring ‘star designers’ today, and the last half century have focused primarily on what is loosely called ‘wearable art’. That is, the exaggerated pieces that you see in the runways season after season. These pieces, while sometimes extraordinary works of imagination and skill, are mostly meant for show and publicity, not necessarily to be comfortably worn.
Just as beauty plays an important role, so too does comfort. If it cannot be worn and enjoyed, can we still call it fashion? Is the point to sit in the dark dungeons of the Metropolitan Museum’s fashion archives? Or the dungeons of your closet? Or the sale racks in Goodwill? Or worse yet, burned by the brand (Burberry burned $38 million of unsold stock in 2018)?
There is a fine balance—one might even call it an art—in designing beauty + comfort. You know the few pieces in your closet that look amazing on you and fit/perform perfectly. When these two come together, that is good design.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
The very function of design is to solve a problem and we should do that without creating new problems. A plastic bag solves the problem to carry your groceries home, but it creates a new problem.
Design cannot afford to be so careless or lazy.
Good design uses limitations to innovate solutions. In my experience, when I was designing luxury bedsheets and silk rugs without restraints, I found that the lack of limitations is boring and uninspiring. Seasons are limitations, and the body itself is a limitation. If someone just said ‘Go make clothes’ the mind starts grasping for something to contain it: what kind of clothes, for whom?. If they said, make ‘Egyptian-themed summer clothes for women’, the imagination starts reeling with ideas. The challenges and limitations are launchpads for creative thinking. They lead to innovation.
Sometimes the process itself leads to innovation, to new ideas and discoveries that would never have been imagined. The process, when directed by an intention, a beautiful target, is in itself a vital and rewarding time to explore. The same can be said for life too: Enjoy the journey as much as you feel driven to attain the goal. Both have their rewards.
If we only did what has ever been done before, we are in for a bleak future. We have to break free from our limited mindset, the habituation of what we know. What if we embrace the good and those are our limits? And we combine this with breaking out of our conditioned mind? We would innovate something good.
This is essential.
Nothing ever grew that did not extend beyond the status quo.
This is essential. Being the best is not a competition against others, but a drive for personal peace-of-mind and final satisfaction, a personal stamp of approval.
“If you design knowingly using a toxin or a questionable material in your work, how talented are you really?” -William McDonough
It is more than solving a problem or striving to make a living, it is making a good living -a living while doing good. Yes, I recognize this is hard. Perfectionism makes it tough. But, if we can succeed in making something from head-to-toe that is beautifully designed with a positive impact, then we can sleep well at night and be proud of our work. Then it is a masterpiece, a real work of art. It’s a matter of personal self-respect and integrity. Everyone must listen within and hold themselves accountable for their own choices. I may disagree with others about the choices they make, but at the end of the day, I know I am content with mine.
Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. How many seconds have you been reading this? 20 minutes means 1,200 truckloads of burned textiles.
In the design world there is a term called ‘planned obsolescence’. That is what describes the profit-driven shift in history when we stopped designing toasters to be repairable and started designing a toaster to fail in three years so you will buy a new one.
Longevity is both an attitude and a fact. Are we in this for the long haul? Is this garment with us for the long haul?
All of these resources are precious, let’s treat them that way, let’s treat them as we would our beloved. Going back to not taking things for granted. The air, the soil, the human hearts that made it, and made it so beautifully -don’t we want to treasure that? Let’s focus on the Konmari method of Spark Joy. Those things that spark joy are the things we want to endure with us. It’s your favorite teacup that you secretly hope will never chip or break (though it will someday). As designers, let’s make something beautiful, like that. Let’s make something to be someone’s beloved. And as humans in the world who wear clothes everyday, let what you wear be your beloved, everyday, the one you want to be with you always. The one that makes you feel good through and through. The one you love to wear over and over again until it becomes threadbare.
Design Matters, Clothing Matters.
Poor design is what got us into the messes we see today, and it is the light at the end of the tunnel that can get us out.
It’s easy to think the fashion industry is only for fashionistas and celebrities, but everyone on the planet, except for a few naked sadhus, wears clothes. Clothing matters to us all, in varying degrees and for varying reasons. There are 8 needs and functions that clothing serves.
Aside from our very personal and private reasons to wear clothing, the clothing we chose matters to use all, because the impacts of our cumulative choices are enormous, and impacting us all.