Green, Clean, Birkin, Cecil the Lion, Nike and the Age of Contradiction

Image: The Sun

We are living in the age of contradiction. On one hand, we abhor violence and on the other, we continue to discriminate. On one hand, there is a growing sense of environmental responsibility and on the other, we continue to ravage and exploit the planet in umpteen ways. 

The Trump administration's decision to loosen restrictions around the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia has stirred a hornet's nest.

Reminds me of Cecil the Lion, an interesting subject for introspection on defining such polarities.  There was a global backlash on the merciless slaughter of Zimbabwe's favourite lion by an American dentist and part-time game hunter ..and there was also a wholehearted support for him especially in the light of Mia Farrow's tweet disclosing his business address to the haters at large in addition to people citing legitimacy of his barbaric actions while game hunting.

The Chanel head designer (who also heads up Fendi and his own eponymous label) vehemently supports the fur industry justifying his supporting the growth of the trade in saving jobs of people engaged in it since he believes they cannot do any other job besides slaughtering!

Then we have trailblazers like Jane Birkin, Hermès’ Birkin's eponymous muse who wanted her name struck-off of the crocodile-skin version of the bag; Stella McCartney for bringing eco-cool to the luxury bandwagon with her environmentally sustainable and ethical clothing line although her brand which is part of The Kering Group holds many brands under its umbrella that do not conform to eco-fashion standards that she identifies with.

There are a lot more pro-planet initiatives across the globe; hand-made, sustainable fashion; causes and hashtags on animal cruelty, fair trade, organic farming and sensitive subjects like the child and cheap labour in the third world nations. While we are also seeing massive amount of plastic, hazardous material and trash accumulating in our oceans; The carbon footprint is growing despite a gradual transition to the Green and Clean.

Hand-made has a strong historical reference. The old world loved hand-crafted products and history is a testimonial to the fact that craftsmanship was a dominant force sans waste, over-consumption and mass-consumerism. Man-made on the other hand also reflect on how we can increase our eco-conscious and socially empathetic imprint.

Jim Thompson revitalized a cottage industry of hand-woven silk and transformed Thai Silk into a world-renowned luxury brand using sustainability methods and best labour practices... Gandhi popularized khadi and for a long time, Khadi was a Gandhian legacy, a movement that propagated the use of hand-made with khadi. Khadi was never actually revered as the fabric of choice by the fashion conscious. But now handloom - khadi, jute, wool, organic cotton and silk (obtained by natural processes and non-violently) and coloured by vegetable and herbal dyes are being used even though sparingly by designer labels and also have found a small niche in the market amongst the fashion elite of the world.

Polarities exist socio-political context too. While many world leaders, chief executives and investors commit more funding to slow climate change and governments crusade for the green and clean energy, We also have heads of state, who can't differentiate between weather and climate and continue to change policies in their respective countries that aren't climate friendly.

Denmark has far surpassed its energy needs just through renewable wind energy, Germany continues to have a greater share of renewable energy(solar, wind, hydro and biomass plants) every year, while parts of the world remain heavily dependent on depleting oil & gas reserves and few other countries struggle to even provide basic energy utilities to their citizens. 

The world’s divided between people who want to protect and people who want to hunt. There seems to this constant contradiction in the world today where everyone seems to be pitted against the other. In the light of these polarities, we are experiencing a heightened extremism in the guise of remaining newsworthy but becoming less and less relevant. 


Nearly every CEO says they want to use their business to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, but only 17% say they’re actually doing it.
- Read more @ Fastcompany

Companies Say They Want To Support Sustainable Development, But Do They Know How?

Humans are abundant but endangered species and environmental resources aren't. Economic productivity and growth operate on the logic of demand and supply! So the supply of resources largely depends on us as we as consumers decide the cycle and extent of consumption.

Up-cycling, trashion or zero-waste are the terms widely used for recycling and involves using processes that creatively and effectively use existing resources. The Higg Index standard is increasingly being used to assess environmental and social responsibility throughout the lifetime of creating a product from the start to the end of the production cycle. There are other reference tools available today as well like Eco Index, Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool, and Global Social Compliance Program (GSCP) that can help in aligning industries in achieving sustainability.

Companies need to view sustainability as an opportunity to innovate.

More on this sentiment as perpetuated by Nike:

Why Nike Sees Social Responsibility As An Opportunity To Innovate

While money is needed to invest in green economy initiatives, each one of should hold the responsibility to accelerate green ideas at an individual level. Social responsibility towards the environment is not an entitlement but there is something we can all do in small measures - Consumption cannot be stopped but can be controlled. 

We can support projects that contribute to minimizing the environmental impact of industry and society, and that makes it easier for companies we buy from to make informed decisions when it comes to sustainability

Before our intellectual dogmatism invades our future prospects, It’s time for a collective call on making a positive environmental impact, supporting at large the Green Industry – truly, the industry of Now!

-Amit Anand