22 Apr 2021
This week: Yesterday was Earth Day. So we’re checking in with that crisis before COVID… or have you already forgotten about climate change?
An oft-touted pandemic silver lining has been the break granted to Mother Earth. We are the virus, nature is healing, dolphins are swimming the canals of Venice. (You’ve seen the memes).
But all that didn’t last too long, with 2021’s emissions surge set to wipe out last year’s global decline.
• A crisis makes for unlikely bedfellows. Hell, even the U.S. and China have just announced they are “committed to cooperate” with each other. Not to be outdone, the UK has also set a new goal of cutting carbon emissions by a whopping 78% by 2035.
• ‘Could COVID help us tackle climate change?’ wondered Tim Harford in The Financial Times. Indeed, the pandemic proved – when our backs are against the wall – we not only have the capacity to make radical change, but also innovate in record time.
• If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you live in a city. Perhaps this seemed less than ideal when the plague struck, but in terms of global warming – cities are where innovation is at. “Mayors… across the world are turning urban centers into laboratories… they’re reimagining the entire urban fabric to be greener, more efficient, and more resilient to the effects of climate change already being felt,” reported Bloomberg.
“This is the year for action,” said the UN head, António Guterres.
Seriously folks, we don’t need a David Attenborough-narrated documentary to get that the house is on fire, and we need to put it out.
REGENERATE OR DIE
• Buh-bye cheap tees? UBS predicts that fast-fashion sales might drop by a third over the next 10 years. At the other end of the spectrum, big luxury brands are going all in on sustainable initiatives – but how real is that commitment when there are investors to answer to? “There is a deep tension between what is good for the world and what is good for shareholders that must be resolved if the industry is to make real progress,” noted The Business of Fashion.
• The new green buzzword? Regenerative. From Allbirds to The North Face, fashion brands are sourcing raw materials from regenerative agriculture. “It’s like yoga, but for farmland,” quipped The New York Times. The Re- prefix is hot, with Nike launching a “Nike Refurbished” programme that encourages customers to return sneaks for resale or recycling. “The urgency of climate change requires innovation… If there is no planet, there is no sport,” said Nicolle Otto, VP of Nike Direct North America.
• La Réunion, an indie label launched during the pandemic, uses upcycled textiles to hand-quilt new creations. Founder Sarah Nisikak measures growth not in customer acquisition, but in the number of producers and communities she supports. “It’s this massive circle of not just sustainability for the earth, but for us to sustain ourselves, companies that can grow in an all-ships-rise mentality,” she told Vogue Business.
Freaked out yet? You should be. But there’s still reason to believe in humanity. Vegans are everywhere. Searches for “plastic-free shops” have grown 1 million percent. More people than ever before realise things need to change.
Where to begin? Think twice before you spend, and if you must – support local, shop small.
Words by Amy Tai, creative consultant and native New Yorker now based in London.