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Is our addiction to consumption driving the climate crisis? In a world packed full of products made from our natural resources, brands and consumers are beginning to pay more consideration to the impact of our fast fashion habits on the natural environments around us.

As individuals it is extremely difficult for us to change our consumer behavior. Although activists suggest that they must change their preferences to opt for sustainable approaches, i.e. lowering energy consumption, choosing eco-friendly transport options and creating shopping habits, it is not easy to change without force or reward.

A study of a portion of the population in Sweden found that people were most likely to maintain environmentally friendly habits when the new behavior is rewarding. With this in mind, how can NFT technology help us to form new habits? Simply put, they act as an intervention to our existing relationship with the fashion industry.

Interventions that break bad habits can encourage new behaviors. These interventions often involve penalties for bad behavior but can also encompass incentives for good behavior. This is where digital assets could play a pivotal role in encouraging sustainable shopping habits for the future.

Has the fashion industry woken up to consider the implications of excessive production?

The reports are published, the studies have been conducted, now raising awareness of the current state of the fashion industry is key to addressing the issues outlined for the environment. Half a million tons of plastic microfibers are dumped in the ocean annually, this is the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. Furthermore by 2030, global apparel consumption is projected to rise by 63% to 102 million tons.

The fashion industry is powerful, with over 300 million people employed. However, the textiles used to produce the vast majority of clothing are taken from plant and animal sources. Polyester, one of the most used fabrics for the manufacturing of clothing, is made from fossil fuels and is not biodegradable, making it one of the most harmful fabrics for the planet. Yet, Polyester’s affordability and the ease at which it can be produced have skyrocketed the value of the material and aided the fast fashion industry to flourish since it was first discovered in the 1940’s.

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To meet climate targets further research on the volume of consumption is needed. Both brands and consumers are beginning to reflect on the amount of waste produced and to consider new forms of consumption. Although fast fashion has been hitting the headlines for its disregard for sustainable production and materials, this behavior is still accepted and hasn't yet led to a reshaping of our clothing shopping habits.

Curtailing the vast levels of consumption provides natural environments with the time needed to replenish resources and regenerate from soil degradation. As the world awakens to consider the implications of excessive production, fashion brands can use NFTs to incentivise news behavior formation and help with the transition from physical goods to virtual worlds.

How has the average consumer been won over by capitalism?

Consumption is a natural and necessary component of everyday life. Think about the food intake. However, the attachment to financial well being and the proliferation of products available to consume has catapulted beyond anything ever imagined. In the past, less wealthy families may have gone without some items but today there are thrift stores, low cost goods and an endless supply of colorful gadgets to catch our eyes. Browsing was never so delightful.

Furthermore, behavioral research and a greater understanding of consumer trends has put the power in the hands of the provider. They give us what we think we need but is it what we really need? As our tastes accumulate and shoppers become accustomed to new items filling the shelves, the craving process begins and that yearning for more is almost automatic.

How Web3 technology can alleviate the negative environmental impact of fast fashion?

As an industry, blockchain is in a strong position to help fashion brands to embrace a more sustainable approach to the public's fashion needs. Not by reskilling them in the art of sewing or patchwork but by providing alternative means of consumption. Instead of buying items that are soon discarded and replaced, buyers can have the option to purchase a digital version until there is a need to fulfill a specific order or better yet, form new relationships with their fashion brands that don’t only involve the production of clothing. Events, loyalty programs, education and design are some sectors currently being explored by some of the biggest fashion brands in the metaverse. Consider Nikes new Crypto Kicks IRL collection that is positioning the leading fashion label as a key player in the move to earn space.

Blockchain technology can help fashion brands to transition away from fast fashion. Firstly, by using data stored on the blockchain ledger, companies can get a more accurate picture of the natural fabrics, water use and general impact that fast fashion is having on the environment. Secondly, NFTs can be used to encourage new forms of behavior and different associations with consumption. The core challenge for eco-activists and those opposed to fast fashion is the struggle to get consumers to change their behavior. With the introduction of NFTs, this transition is less painful. Now, individuals have the opportunity to buy without guilt as the digital asset is stored in your digital wallet without the need to have the physical garment.

Evaluating our role as consumers in society is something that will become part of our everyday mindset as natural resources continue to deplete at an alarming rate. Brands that consider their role in providing greener economies will benefit from alignment with deeper values in societies. Fashion brands that demonstrate care, care for nature and show leadership when it comes to providing sustainable shopping options will win the public’s respect in the longer term.