Photo taken by Nick Wafer, Castle Lookout, AB 2020
"Building NTC, every decision came to a moral and financial crossroads. It seemed nearly impossible to create a truly sustainable clothing brand when it's more environmentally beneficial for it to never exist in the first place.
It all started with a screen printing machine in a 12x8 ft dorm room. While attending college in 2016, I began screening original art onto t-shirts for family and friends. But as I continued working with clothing, the horrendous state of the fashion industry became incredibly overwhelming."
Jacobus DeGroot, founder
We believe people are inherently good, and life is full of opportunities. Opportunities that seem unspecial and momentary but eventually culminate to create something much more significant. Our business philosophy is, we can change the world, but only if we want to.
The Knowledge-Doing Gap
The most challenging part in solving any issue is bridging the gap between knowledge and action. This obstacle has been observed over various complicated problems and is not exclusive to overcoming social issues.
Each year, businesses spend billions of dollars on management consulting seeking advice. But oddly enough, the recommendations the firms paid for are seldom implemented.
A 2000 Harvard business study, conducted by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, Professors of organizational behaviour, sought to find the answer to, what they titled, the 'Knowledge-Doing Gap.' The team discovered that each year over $60 billion is spent on management training by organizations. However, much of the basis for this training is on knowledge and principles fundamentally timeless-unchanged or unchanging. Nevertheless, often the exercise repeats regardless of the content, delivery, or repetition frequency.
Thermoelectric plant in Cienfuegos, Cuba
Here's another example of two managerial consultants from a leading firm working on a large electrical utility project facing deregulation in Latin America. They soon discovered that management already had a four-year-old 500-page document with extensive plans and recommendations produced by a different consulting firm. (The Knowledge-Doing Gap, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton)
There is no easy answer in explaining why this occurs or proper suggestions in fixing it. (Often, experts attribute to individual circumstances.) Still, it's agreed upon that it's less important to understand the reasoning behind each case and much more beneficial and valuable to the organization to identify the gaps in the first place.
We believe this is one of our most significant obstacles when facing the climate crisis. We know what to do, but we simply don't do it.
One of Pfeffer and Sutton's main recommendations is to engage more frequently in thoughtful action. Spend less time contemplating and talking about problems. Taking action will generate experience from which you can learn and grow.
"The most significant change in marketing in recent years has been the power shift from brands to consumers." (CNBC)
Thanks to social media, shoppers—not retailers—are now becoming the critical influencers over what their peers buy. Not only is social media making shoppers more powerful, but it's also making them more influential.
In exchange for this power, we voluntarily trade information about ourselves at every interaction. And through that information, we've learned that the knowledge and doing-gap is more substantial than previously thought.
"Sustainability efforts in the clothing industry are slowing down as a whole. Data from a report by ecological certification company Oeka-Tex illustrated that while 69% of Millennials say they look into claims of sustainability and eco-friendliness when researching clothing purchases, only 37% bought clothes from brands with that focus." (Forbes)
Demand for sustainable products is slowing down, but we are closer than ever to the climate crisis, if not already here.
Worldwide, 92 million tonnes of clothing are thrown into landfills every year. In which the majority are only worn 1 - 3 times before being discarded.
Synthetic clothing, such as nylon and polyester, sheds hundreds of thousands of micro-plastics after every wash. Filling our waterways, oceans and marine life with unremovable micro-pollution.
Over 90% of garment workers are refused a liveable wage and basic working rights while the companies they work for are collectively worth trillions.
In western Canada, where we are based, record heatwaves are making wildfires and flooding much more frequent, snowballing into related problems like air pollution and habitat destruction.
"As a climate scientist, we expect to see more extreme heat waves going forward into the future because we're adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. But this is even beyond my expectations. To have a heatwave last this long and be this hot in Canada is completely unprecedented in history." - Simon Donner, a climatology professor at the University of British Columbia.
The decision-makers, those in a place of power, whether corporate CEOs or politicians, don't view the climate crisis as an existential threat because they don't experience it to the same extent as the majority of people.
Climate injustice refers to the unfair distribution of benefits and damages related to climate change. Thus, the communities least responsible for climate change tend to be the most vulnerable. (DW)
Those who can't afford to move away from compromised environments (i.e. flooded, burned), can't afford A/C or protection from severing weather patterns will bear the majority of the climate crisis. In contrast, the decision-makers can most likely afford air filter systems, access to emergency supplies and other life-saving technologies that may become necessary.
It's easy to feel powerless when confronting giant corporations that seem to control everything. But that's not the reality. The reality is that we influence and control them, and they know that.
Through consumer power, we are the actual decision-makers.
Consumer power is similar to purchasing power but also considers the demand and social influence generated as the result of every purchase.
Here's an example, if a company doesn't align with your ethics, Don't support them, bring your business somewhere that does. Then, the flawed company must pivot to meet new demand or die trying. That's consumer power. (most of the time, companies only change their marketing efforts, so be sure to be a conscious consumer and do research)
Consumer power is the single most powerful strategy in combatting exploitive industry standards degrading our planet and exploiting those living in it.
How tiny ripples create huge waves.
In 2017 The Carbon Disclosure Project released a study on global emissions, claiming that 100 corporations are responsible for over 71% of emissions, although some readers found contention over the article.
In the study, "Downstream" emissions, which occur from the use of sold products, are attributed to the producing company rather than the end-user.
Some readers believe that responsibility entirely falls on those producing the goods to operate as responsibly as possible. In contrast, others argue that the consumers generating the demand for said products should also be accountable.
So who holds responsibility for environmental degradation?
We believe the first and most important responsibility is governments and regulating bodies to keep private industry in check, ensuring corporate interest doesn't outweigh fundamental human rights or environmental integrity.
We also believe the responsibility falls on the consumer to understand what goes into the product their buying while also understanding consumer power, the demand it generates and the persuasion it holds.
Currently, we are not seeing this responsibility from governments or industry leaders. For no other reason besides, they don't care. But we do.
Luckily moral-less corporations care about the values of consumers far more than they do the actual virtue.
We donate 100% of profits because we want to accentuate how impactful every purchase is to promote a conscious consumer mentality.
We are providing an opportunity to exercise your consumer power in the space of clothing and fashion. But you can apply the mentality to anything. For example, next time you eat out, consider trying a new local restaurant instead of the big chain option.
Every dollar spent is a vote cast, enabling or condemning the change we wish to see in the world. Unfortunately, Industries degrade our planet because we, as consumers, permit them to do so. Although no one is entirely responsible for global change, we are all accountable for our actions.
So how do we do it?
Bridge the gap between knowledge and action through small conscious efforts. The same way you climb a mountain—one step at a time.
The Ocean Conservation Group cleaning a beach in Bali
"The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here's how the math works out. If you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you'll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you're finished. Conversely, If you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you'll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or minor setback accumulates into something much more." - (James Clear, Atomic Habits)
Through the power of our purchases regarding the demand it generates and the persuasion it holds, we as consumers must bridge the knowledge and doing-gap through small everyday changes to combat exploitive industry standards that are mercilessly degrading our planet.
Our mission is to be more than an alternative to the unethical practices of the fashion industry. We are a means by which you can genuinely buy what you believe in through nonprofit T-shirt collections that serve a purpose beyond all material benefits.