Not exactly the poster children for environmentalism, the Kardashians have had their fair share of climate-related scandals over the years. Despite donating to the Australian bushfire relief, and lending their influence to climate-adjacent conversations here and there, the family continues to push their extravagant wasteful lifestyles, promoting overconsumption and carbon-intensive habits every single day.
And as the appetite for flex culture dissipates (or at the very least, shifts), it raises the question: Will the climate crisis be the thing that ultimately brings down the Kardashians?
The Kardashians: An environmental disaster
Throughout their tenure as arguably the most influential family in the world, the Kardashians have faced many allegations of bad climate behaviour.
In August this year, the Los Angeles Times reported the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District issued “notices of exceedance” to both Kim and Kourtney Kardashian regarding their water use in June.
Kim’s property exceeded its limit by 230,000 gallons, with Kourtney’s 1.86-acre property exceeding its limit by over 100,000 gallons. In July of this year, Yard, a digital marketing agency, collated carbon emission data on celebrity private plane usage— the agency ranking Kim number seven and Travis Scott number 10, implicating the Kardashians as the worst offenders of private jet emissions in 2022.
At the time the list was released, Kim’s 57 flights— the shortest of which lasted a mere 23 minutes— had reportedly emitted 610 times more carbon than the average person does in a year.
In addition, when considering the overall impact of the Kardashian brand on the environment, the product launches from each of the family members’ individual projects and brands must be taken into account.
From Khloe Kardashian’s Good American jean venture to Kylie Jenner’s self-named Kylie Cosmetics to Kim’s KKW Beauty brand and SKIMS shapewear, the family is constantly fuelling the culture of obsessive overconsumption. Telling consumers they need more packaged products, with no substantial sustainability practices in sight.
What do they have to say about it?
The most recent sister to make her stance on climate change known, Kim was interviewed by Interview Magazine, as the cover star of the September 2022 issue.
When asked to comment on the backlash she received over her water and jet usage, she responded: “I believe in climate change, and I believe that anything can help. But I also believe in being realistic. and I think sometimes there’s so much to worry about on this planet, and it can be really scary to live your life with anxiety.”
On how she involves herself in such issues, she added, “I have super climate change–involved friends, and I love learning from them,” — referring to close family friend and former assistant Steph Shepherd, an environmental entrepreneur. But when Kim explained what she does with those learnings she said, “I do what I can, but you have to pick and choose what really works for you in your life.”
She further clarified, “No one’s going to be 100% perfect.”
At least she’s honest?
Is Kourtney any better?
Not really. Despite taking a different route to engage in the climate conversation, Kourtney’s approach doesn’t seem to be much better.
Last week, fast fashion giant Boohoo announced it had recruited Kourtney as “the brand’s newest ambassador with a focus on sustainability,” and that she would be creating two collections with an eco-friendly angle. And because the words Boohoo, Kardashian, and sustainability don’t generally go hand-in-hand, the announcement, expectedly, prompted a slew of backlash. Likening the partnership to “Burger King collaborating with a fitness influencer”, internet users have called out the collaboration as “utter BS,” “insulting” and “embarrassing.”
For context, Boohoo was founded in Manchester in 2006, and is known as one of the pioneers of fast fashion. The company owns many other fast fashion names like PrettyLittleThing and NastyGal.
In 2020 it was revealed that not only was the e-tailer’s output unsustainable; workers at a factory in Leicester that supplied their product were being paid as little as $4.40 an hour (the national living wage in Britain for ages 25 and above, at the time, was $10.93).
Whether a strategic choice or in response to the backlash, Kourtney has put out a call for “experts who have ideas [or] suggestions” to reach out and share their thoughts on better sustainability practices for the company. Unsurprising, as Kourtney is not an expert on sustainability or climate change, but rather flaunts a lifestyle in complete opposition to the messaging she is now being paid to align with.
In response to the partnership, one commenter wrote: “There was the ‘opportunity’ for this celebrity worth $65 million to turn down this contract and instead give a platform to what truly sustainable and ethical fashion looks like (spoiler alert: not boohoo).”
Another said: “Instead of paying rich people to virtue signal why not just pay super fair wages instead??? That’s something you can do and you don’t even have to give a rich person more money to do it.”
A greater impact than we can imagine
It’s safe to say that people are not happy with the Kardashians. Despite years of scandals and controversies, it turns out their attitude towards the climate could be their undoing.
This year alone has seen entire towns flooded, homes burnt to the ground, with belongings and memories lost forever. When it comes to celebrities behaving so flippantly about the environment, and making millions of dollars while doing so, it is unsurprising that it is beginning to feel personal.
Arguably the most influential family in the world; fans and haters alike have a mutual understanding not to expect perfection from the Kardashians when it comes to climate action. However, with power and influence comes a duty of care – a line the public seems to now be drawing for the Kardashians.
Instead, the Kardashian family fails to use their power as a force for change, continuing to perpetuate harmful messaging and profiting while they do so.