News Environment Greta Thunberg on Fast Fashion, Brushing Off Critics, and Building Hope The famed environmental activist tells Vogue that we cannot combat the climate crisis unless "we start treating it like an actual crisis." By Michael d'Estries Michael d'Estries LinkedIn Twitter Writer State University of New York at Geneseo Quaestrom School of Business, Boston University (2022) Michael d’Estries is a co-founder of the green celebrity blog Ecorazzi. He has been writing about culture, science, and sustainability since 2005. His work has appeared on Business Insider, CNN, and Forbes. Learn about our editorial process Updated August 11, 2021 09:56AM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg arrives at the European Council headquarter, on March 5, 2020, in Brussels, Belgium. Thierry Monasse/Getty Images Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive If you’ve yet to fully appreciate the powerful voice Greta Thunberg wields in the fight against climate change, I deeply urge you to pause in your daily routine and soak up her latest interview with Vogue Scandinavia. The Swedish activist, who at only 18 has already made a global impact worthy of a lifetime, is the cover star of the inaugural issue—prescient timing ahead of the United Nations' new damning report on our climate future. While summarizing Vogue’s piece would rob you of enjoying the talents of author Tom Pattinson, I would like to highlight just a few of the many quotes from Greta that had me nodding along enthusiastically. Greta Thunberg on cover of Vogue Scandinavia. Alexandrov Klum/Vogue Scandinavia On Treating the Climate Crisis Like the Pandemic "Something that at least I thought a lot about at the beginning of the pandemic was that you suddenly saw world leaders and very powerful people say, 'We will listen to the science, we will not prioritize economic interests over public health, we will do whatever it takes because you cannot put a price on a human life'," Greta laughs. "Just by saying those words you open up a whole new dimension. If you just apply that for any other issue—the climate crisis is just one example—that puts everything upside down completely. "We wouldn’t have been able to handle the pandemic as we did if we would have treated it as a flu. We didn’t say, 'Oh, we have to think positively, this will benefit the industry that manufactures face masks, this will create new jobs in healthcare' and that is exactly the way we are treating the climate crisis." On Misconceptions About Climate Change Activists "There is some kind of misconception about activists, especially about climate activists, that we are just negative and pessimists, and we are just complaining, and we are trying to spread fear, but that’s the exact opposite. We are doing this because we are hopeful—we are hopeful that we will be able to make the changes necessary. "If we didn’t believe that we are able to make the changes, then we wouldn’t be doing this. We are the ones who have not given up, who still have hope, who still have optimism." On Confronting Those in Power Who Publicly Do Not Agree With Her "You have to see it from a larger perspective," she says very philosophically. "Why are they writing these kinds of things? It’s because they feel that we are being too loud and they want to silence us, whether it’s by scaring us or intimidating us or to spread doubt about us so people won’t believe what we are saying, so people won’t take us seriously. And that they do by spreading lies, hate, mockery, and so on. So that’s, in a way, a very positive sign we are having an impact," she says. “They are not evil, they just don’t know better. At least that’s what I am trying to think." In a clever way to attract new people to the cause, Greta also implores the readers of Vogue, a magazine invested heavily in fashion, to consider the impact of constantly purchasing new threads. "The last time I bought something new was three years ago and it was second-hand," she says. "I just borrow things from people I know." In a series of tweets reflective of fashion icon Stella McCartney’s speech to world leaders a few weeks back, Greta says the industry is in desperate need of a sustainable makeover. "The fashion industry is a huge contributor to the climate and ecological emergency, not to mention its impact on the countless workers and communities who are being exploited around the world in order for some to enjoy fast fashion that many treat as disposable," she writes. She adds that while it may appear as if the industry is starting to take responsibility for its impact (estimated at 10% of global carbon emissions), most corporate statements are nothing but greenwashing. "You cannot mass produce fashion or consume ‘sustainably’ as the world is shaped today," she writes. "That is one of the many reasons why we will need a system change." Circling back to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s "code red" report for humanity, Thunberg says it confirms what we’ve already known, but without telling us what to do. Courage, she tweets, is required to walk boldly in that direction. "It is up to us to be brave and make decisions based on the scientific evidence provided in these reports," she writes. "We can still avoid the worst consequences, but not if we continue like today, and not without treating the crisis like a crisis."