Everyday Pioneers... Leigh Morris
Tell us about The Re:directory... why did you create it and how does it work?
I worked in the Buying Retail sector for nearly 20 years and witnessed the negative impact caused by poor practices in large retail businesses, and the subsequent marketing and greenwashing to distract from the effect of their operations. At the same time I was struggling to understand and navigate the complexity around sustainability myself, I knew that I wanted to make changes to my own lifestyle but felt overwhelmed with the avalanche of information and opinions. I struggled to find a really useful source that I could rely on to give me a broad variety of solutions that were realistic, affordable and inclusive for all, so I decided to create a platform to do it. My theory was if I could help myself and my family understand and make better choices (we’re a diverse lot) sorting and researching the information for them then hopefully it would help other people too, whilst supporting the growth of positive impact businesses who choose to operate consciously.
Can you tell us more about the Values and how they reflect the businesses you feature?
The core of The Re:Directory is our Values, these founding 12 Values represent the key areas to support in choosing to lead a more sustainably minded lifestyle. Each of these Values is linked to the targets and requirements of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which is a science based framework of targets and measurements that 193 countries signed up to in order to deliver a liveable and equitable future for all. This framework is important because it focuses on both the environmental and social facets of sustainability to eliminate all forms of exploitation and inequality and keep our planet in
Each member business of the platform is assessed on industry specific criteria to determine the Values their business model embodies, these values are clearly displayed for each business with a description of how each business delivers against that value. The goal is to connect consumers to transparent businesses who choose to operate consciously, never sacrificing people and planet in the pursuit of profit to help develop more positive impact consumption habits and re:direct money away from negative impact greenwashing businesses.
From your own experience, how can the fashion industry embrace sustainability more wholeheartedly (and transparently)?
The sheer volume of product being produced is THE key problem, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and the second largest consumer of the worlds water supply. A lot of retailers buy volumes of products specifically to markdown, stimulating demand through distressed pricing but a lot of this still doesn’t get sold and is on the fast train to landfill (disguised through charitable donations). 85% of textiles produced each year ends up in landfill so it makes sense that if the fashion industry committed to producing less they would massively reduce their negative impact.
Accountability is also woefully lacking. The supply chain is distant and fragmented which allows the industry to distance from any accountability but yet still apply immeasurable cost and lead time pressure which leads to human and environmental disasters such as Rana Plaza in 2013 where over 1100 garment workers lost their lives. Industry players all need to account for the TRUE cost (product, environmental and social) of their products, but that won’t happen without enforceable legislation which is why our collective action as consumers is so incredibly important.