THE BLOG
18/09/2015 04:22 BST | Updated 17/09/2016 06:12 BST

The Global Economy on a Sustainable Thread

The truth is, we cannot continue to allow the exploitation of natural resources, fossil fuels, and cheap labour. We cannot continue to encourage excessive, obsessive demand. And we cannot support a supply chain that is always ready to anticipate and satisfy desire, regardless of the cost.

This blog is part of a month-long focus around sustainable fashion across HuffPost UK Style and Lifestyle. Here we aim to champion some of the emerging names in fashion and shine a light on the truth about the impact our appetite for fast fashion has around the world.

It's scary to think about the global economy today. Resource availability, social cohesion, our consumption model... We're about to exceed all their limits and what do we do about it? Not much.

The way economies are run is having catastrophic impacts worldwide. The truth is, we cannot continue to allow the exploitation of natural resources, fossil fuels, and cheap labour. We cannot continue to encourage excessive, obsessive demand. And we cannot support a supply chain that is always ready to anticipate and satisfy desire, regardless of the cost.

Yet - although it's clear to many that the current situation is unsustainable - we're still reticent about developing a coherent strategy to take us forward in a healthy way. We still manage to avoid these issues. It seems that for a society proud of being globalised, can't give a global answer to the problems facing our planet.

We've all been encouraged to believe that the problems we need to solve are not our responsibility. Just as bad, the problems have been separated into different boxes for us. We have the box of climate change, the box of poverty, the box of trade regulations, the box of slavery issues, the box of resource scarcity, and so on.... For each box, we're told there's a solution. But it's a different solution for each box, no matter if each solution is diametrically opposed for each box. Most importantly, it seems that we, as citizens, can do very little about it.

But is that really the case?

Here, I believe, is where we should bring into play our most powerful tool and agent. Something called 'sustainability'. Environmental, social, financial and economic sustainability. A 'method', or rather a framework, leading to a more equal and fair economy that's more respectful of people and more considerate of the planet and its resources.

Examples of sustainability as a methodology and as a framework are many and varied and are being applied to different fields around the world. All are delivering incredibly positive results.

Take Uruguay. Over the past decade, it's become the country with the lowest social disparity in Latin America. Around 90% of its energy comes from renewable sources. A policy based on environmental, economic and social sustainability has led the country and its economy to grow at rapid pace. Its debt has halved, while banks are now solid and businesses flourishing.

In the business world, there are certainly strong leaders to inspire us. Visionary CEOs like Paul Polman (Unilever), Francois-Henri Pinault (Kering), Elon Musk (Tesla), Marc Bolland (M&S) and Ivon Chouinard (Patagonia) - to name just a few. These individuals and their companies have been taking sustainability as a framework and methodology seriously. As a consequence, there's no doubt that their businesses will flourish in respect of significant shifts in environmental and social justice in years to come.

So clearly, taking sustainability as a wide and overarching approach not only leads to a fairer society and to a cleaner environment, but it makes a lot of business sense to shareholders and stakeholders too.

There's a thread connecting climate change, environmental degradation, over-exploitation of resources, social unrest and mass migrations, as well as economic and financial collapse. But there's also a thread connecting the solutions to all these issues too. The examples are plain and clear to see. This thread is where we can and where we must start.

This thread is 'sustainability'.

HuffPost UK Lifestyle is running a special series around Sustainable Fashion for the month of September. Livia Firth is creative director of Eco-Age and founder of The Green Carpet Challenge, and will be guest editing on 18 September. If you'd like to blog or get involved, please email us.