Climate change is clearly an increasingly important consideration for us all. It seems we are constantly being reminded about the fragility of our planet, yet politicians seem indifferent towards the need for change and large corporations appear more concerned with short term financial gain than environmentally sound policies. Sadly, this has left many of us feeling powerless in the face of overwhelming odds.
However, there are promising signs that we are rapidly advancing towards a more sustainable future, one that fills us with optimism and hope. January 2019 seems to have demonstrated the true nature of public feelings when it comes to global warming and possibly signals significant change.
As opinions shift and awareness increases, pressure is mounting for political and business leaders to act. For many businesses large and small, the public now expects a certain standard of environmental thinking. This creates opportunity for pioneers such as Bulb Energy, the UK’s largest supplier of green energy, and us at Cariki, trying to do our part to transition the fashion industry (the second largest polluter in the world) away from unsustainable clothing production.
This article shows that 2019 marks a change in the public’s opinion, with politicians and businesses alike now being forced to consider the environment as central to their future strategies rather than included simply as an afterthought.
As a millennial, it has often irritated me that my generation understand and care about the environment but have struggled to make change happen. We are certainly better than previous generations and are aware that climate change poses a serious threat, but few go out of their way in order to act.
However, things seem to be changing. Over the past few weeks, schoolchildren have walked out in a series of protests across Europe demanding that leaders do more to protect the environment. In England, this has affected 60 towns and included over 15,000 school children.
This demonstration began with 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg, who started skipping class to sit outside government buildings in September, accusing her country of not following the Paris Climate Agreement. Since then, tens of thousands of school children have demonstrated across Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia.
Understandably anxious about the government’s lack of thought for future generations, those who will be forced to deal with the consequences of inaction are the school children, who are now demanding that more attention be paid to global warming in government policies.
The UK Student Climate Network helping to coordinate the protests have labelled four key demands:
In response, Theresa May has said that striking school children were ‘wasting lesson time’, which may well be the case, but political leaders have also wasted countless precious years of inaction, we’ll let you decide what’s worse?.
Regardless of the government’s reaction, this fills us at Cariki with optimism for a sustainable future, as the young demonstrate that they are willing to take action and speak up for what they believe in. As this generation gains more influence over the coming years, they will not only be able to voice their concerns on more powerful political platforms, but their spending power will start to force more businesses to rethink their policies towards the environment.
Feeling quite emotional! Incredible turnout in #Brighton for #climatestrike.— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) February 15, 2019
This is most hopeful thing that's happened in years.
Exciting thing is positive policies like #GreenNewDeal are taking off too.
We can win this fight for a safer, fairer future!#schoolstrike4climate pic.twitter.com/TA8edUjSC7
One such business being forced to rethink their policy towards the environment is Iceland. Iceland has rightly come under a lot of criticism recently due to their attitude towards palm oil.
"The Iceland no palm oil pledge is that by the end of 2018, 100% of the supermarket's own label food lines will contain no palm oil, reducing demand for palm oil by more than 500 tonnes per year."
Since then, they have rightly continued to promote this, being publically celebrated in December for trying to create a Christmas advert highlighting how they are helping to protect orangutans in the wild by removing palm oil from all their own brand recipes.
Yet hardly a month later it was found in January 2019 that a number of products still contain the environmentally devastating liquid. Justifiably, this has caused public outcry and brought the company a lot of criticism.
Iceland claims they have been transparent with their messaging, aiming to remove palm oil only from their own brand labels. However, this seems to many something of a publicity stunt, designed to gain public approval with very little meaningful action behind it.
After celebrations in April around being the first supermarket to attempt to remove palm oil, continued public media campaigns promoting its removal, and a publicly applauded ad announcing its successful removal during the Christmas period, they have ultimately failed to deliver on their promises. Yet this isn’t all, their website even states that the company is “simply saying no to palm oil”.
It is hardly any wonder why many view this to have been a marketing stunt more than a deep seated desire to protect the environment. What makes matters worse is they continue to lie, spending weeks promising their customers that none of their own brand products contain palm oil and justifying its use by claiming they are just running through old stock.
For us, their true motivation for removing palm oil is starting to seem questionable. The BBC found 28 products for sale containing palm oil, and it seems that they are more concerned with moving their brand label from the packaging than the oil from the product, just take a look at what they are now selling instead...
Why is palm oil so devastating? It is said to have been responsible for about 8% of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008, encourages farmers to burn vast swathes of forest to make space for palm oil trees, destroys natural ecosystems and decimating the population of native orangutans.
So why do we believe Iceland’s failure is so promising for the future of sustainability?
Very simply, it shows that large companies can no longer get away with making promises they cannot keep just to get public attention. It also shows the public now demand more, and that companies are being forced to respond. No matter their size, companies cannot get away with breaking their promises.
This event has also shown us that companies who are genuinely trying to make headway in the environmental space are being celebrated, which will likely encourage other brands to change their attitude in the hope of gaining free marketing and publicity.
Here at Cariki, we are celebrating the launch of a new companion in the space of sustainable fashion and lifestyle.
The BBC have just launched their own responsible brand based on the success from its Blue Planet and Planet Earth series, attempting to capitalise on viewers inspired by presenter David Attenborough’s warnings about the effect humans are having on the planet.
BBC Planet will be the umbrella brand selling eco-friendly clothing, homewares and books, designed to help those inspired to make more responsible consumption choices find sustainable alternatives more easily.
Blue Planet II, which highlights the scale of plastic pollution in the oceans, was the most watched British TV show in 2017 and has helped raise awareness around the critical state of the oceans across the globe. It has also had political ramifications, prompting environmental secretary Michael Gove to revisit recycling plans and ban plastic straws.
We would love to work more closely with brands such as the BBC over the coming years, having recently partnered with BBC Introducing to help demonstrate that sustainable fashion can provide an alternative to music lovers everywhere.
We are now hoping that David Attenborough will release a series detailing the devastation caused by the fashion industry.
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