It’s late November 2019 and the pavements are buzzing in St Catherine Street, the busiest shopping area in Montreal, as retailers feverishly prepare for Black Friday – the international festival of material indulgence and opportunity for huge profits, which is just four days away.
Across the city other plans are also being made for the big day, but they do not involve shopping. Young climate activists are busily organizing protests and activities to draw shoppers’ attention to the climate impacts of overconsumption and fast fashion. With a 10-per-cent share of all carbon emissions, the fashion industry emits more than international flights and shipping combined. It’s also the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply and pollutes the oceans with microplastics.1
Youth climate activism is growing in Montreal as concerns grow at the mounting evidence of catastrophe in the wings and a lack of action in response. I caught up with five activists in Black Friday overdrive who talked about the highs and lows, their motivations and challenges.
Children protest against climate impacts of fast fashion in Montreal on Black Friday, November 2019. LUCY EJ WOODS