Redefining Travel: The Green Journey on a Quest for Climate Solutions

Redefining Travel: The Green Journey on a Quest for Climate Solutions

Forget the typical tourist itinerary – imagine a journey where every step, pedal stroke, and salty sea breeze is a deliberate act of environmental love. That’s the reality for Thomas Polo and Megan Claire Routbort, the co-founders of The Green Journey. This climate storytelling nonprofit isn’t about ticking off landmarks or racking up frequent flyer miles. Instead, they’re on a multi-year odyssey across the globe, using their platform to amplify the voices of everyday heroes tackling the climate crisis head-on.

Their mode of transport? Think bikes, trains, even a sailboat across the Atlantic. It’s a testament to their commitment to “reduce, respect, restore,” the guiding principles that fuel The Green Journey. Through in-depth, immersive storytelling, they paint a vibrant picture of a world buzzing with innovation and resilience. Forget the doomscrolling narratives; Polo and Routbort are here to inject a healthy dose of “earned hope” – the kind that blossoms from witnessing real action on the ground. Buckle up, because this interview dives deep into the remarkable world of The Green Journey, where every story shared is a call to action for a more sustainable future.

Could you please tell us about the story behind The Green Journey and what the platform aims to achieve?

Megan: The Green Journey is a 501(c)(3) organization focused on using exploration as a tool to tackle climate change. We have a theory that getting people excited about low-carbon, slow travel can be an entry into talking about sustainability, and then working on it in their own communities to create change. 

Polo: The idea came from our own experience working in sustainability. We started our climate careers in office jobs (we actually met on Zoom!) but we found that there was more to the story of how to create a livable future than just corporate action and climate tech innovation. The puzzle is big and cuts across disciplines; solutions literally span the entire globe. So in May 2023, we embarked on a climate-positive world tour to amplify and share the messages of climate and nature heroes from all continents. 

Megan & Polo from The Green Journey sailing
Source: The Green Journey

How do you define a “climate-positive world tour”? 

Megan: Our main goal with climate-positive travel is to leave each place we go better than we found it. This can take many different forms; sometimes, it looks like sharing the story of an NGO that’s rewilding an old sand quarry or peat mine. Other times, it looks like participating in a climate protest, like the Global March to End Fossil Fuels or Fridays for Future. Sometimes, it just means doing a spontaneous beach cleanup, or talking to someone we’re hitchhiking with about climate action in their area. 

Polo: The other critical piece is reducing our own carbon footprint as we travel; we use low-carbon forms of transport, eat low on the food chain, and live a very minimalist lifestyle — I can fit my entire life in a 50-liter backpack! 

Megan & Polo from The Green Journey traveling
Source: The Green Journey

You’ve traveled across continents by bike, sailboat, and public transportation. Can you share some of the logistical challenges and unexpected joys of slow, low-carbon travel? 

Polo: Well, it’s definitely not the fastest way to travel. For example, we thought it would take us two months to sail from Europe to North America, and it ended up taking us almost five! So we had to be very flexible and patient.

 

Megan: But that type of unexpected delay is also what makes slow travel kind of beautiful. Along the way, we connected with so many places and people, from the Balearic Islands to the Bahamas, and encountered stories to share with our audience that we never would have reached if we were traveling by plane or by car.

Megan & Polo from The Green Journey with lots of people
Source: The Green Journey

Polo: I was feeling pretty down about the climate crisis before we set off on the road, but with each day I spend on expeditions at The Green Journey, my hope is renewed. There are so many incredible people making change in their corners of the world; if we can do our part by bringing these stories to a global audience, we can advocate for and inspire systemic change. 

From community-owned wind power to nature regeneration projects, your journey has encountered diverse solutions. What surprised you most about the variety of climate action happening globally?

Megan: It’s not just young people who are acting on climate. Yes, there’s a lot of media attention focused on activists like Greta Thunberg, but for every member of Gen Z that we’ve met working on climate, there’s also a hero who’s a millennial, a Gen X, or a Boomer. We even met with eighty-year-olds in Kutë, Albania, who’d used a civil disobedience campaign to protest the damming of the Vjosa River. Their activism showed us it’s never too late to get involved in climate action. 

Polo: One thing that surprised me is the variety of approaches. We’re evolving from a situation where climate is the realm of scientists and weathermen. We see people tackling the challenge across disciplines, showing that the climate movement is now truly a cultural movement rather than just a scientific one. 

In what ways do you leverage your platform to advocate for a better climate future and inspire others to take action?

Polo: Our goal with The Green Journey is to share stories of real action and radical hope. We spent most of our time, energy, and content on finding and profiling climate solutions, preferably the ones that aren’t necessarily getting the attention they deserve. All around the world, there are so many people who are making waves to build more sustainable communities, but it might not even be their day job. We focus on everyday climate heroes in order to show our audience that you don’t have to be a celebrity or an influencer to make a difference. 

Megan from The Green Journey interviewing people from Patagonia
Source: The Green Journey

How do you balance raising awareness about the climate crisis with promoting hope and optimism through your storytelling? 

Megan: I think the idea that people aren’t aware of the climate crisis is a bit of a distraction. National surveys from Yale Climate Communications tell us that 72% of Americans believe global warming is happening; in countries like Hungary, Portugal, and Costa Rica, that number is higher than 90%. What we respond to is the shift from climate denial to climate doomism, a growing school of thought that basically tells us we’re screwed and it’s too late to act. Of course, that’s not true. We focus on fighting back against that narrative, showing that there’s still time to change, and that actually, we have everything to gain as a society from making those changes. 

Polo: Now is the time to focus on getting things done. We’re not naive; we know the situation is dire, but the world needs more examples of people working to save cultivated biodiversity or getting involved by running for office

Megan: The idea is to promote ‘earned hope’ —

the kind that comes from action. 

The Green Journey was recognized as Future Climate Leaders at Aspen Ideas: Climate Summit. Can you tell us more about your experience at Aspen Ideas Climate as Future Climate Leaders and the key takeaways from the event?

Polo: After almost ten months on the road, it was incredible to arrive in Miami Beach for the Aspen Ideas: Climate summit, where I joined 100+ Future Leaders from all over the world and all across disciplines to discuss the impact each one of us is making on the climate movement, and how to develop our work and take it to the next level. My biggest takeaway definitely came from witnessing the diversity of the cohort itself; whether you’re an artist or a scientist, French or Bahamian or American, there’s a place for you to make an impact.

What practical tips can you offer Green & Beyond Mag readers who want to travel more sustainably and reduce their environmental footprint? 

Megan: It doesn’t have to be a far-flung adventure, but plan at least one trip a year that doesn’t involve flying. Ride your bicycle, lace up your hiking shoes, or hop onboard your national rail network. Get out of your comfort zone and watch the world go by at a slower pace, and I promise your horizons will expand in ways you didn’t think were possible. 

Polo: Whenever I travel to a new city, I love using Too Good To Go, an app that lets you buy Surprise Bags of surplus food that would have otherwise gone to waste. It’s a great way to sample local cuisine in a way that’s good for the planet and your wallet. 

What role do you see storytelling playing in inspiring individuals to adopt sustainable lifestyles and advocate for environmental change?

Polo: I think one of the central problems in the climate story today is the misplaced idea that a sustainable lifestyle leaves you worse off, or that you ‘lose’ something by going green. When in actuality, a sustainable lifestyle means cleaner air, more connection to nature, cheaper electricity, and so much more. Storytelling has a critical role to play in cutting through the noise and getting to the heart of that truth. By centering people and places who have made positive change, and showing that it is possible, stories have the power to totally upend the culture. That’s what I love about them. 

Where will your journey take you next? Where can our audience follow along with your journey and learn more about your work? 

Megan: Right now, we’re prepping for our next big expedition, a solar-powered bike ride across the United States. Starting in July, we’ll be riding coast-to-coast from California to New York City, profiling individuals and organizations that are working to make renewable power faster, better, cheaper, and cleaner than fossil fuels, for everyone across the country! We’re looking for partners, so if you’re interested in the intersection of adventure + climate, please get in touch! 

We’d love it if your audience supported us by following the adventure: we’re active on Instagram and other social media platforms. We also publish a blog on Substack

What Does Your Lifestyle Have to Do with Climate Justice?

What Does Your Lifestyle Have to Do with Climate Justice?

Picture this: You’re scrolling through your phone, hypnotized by a new trendy outfit or the latest gadget. You double-tap, a heart fluttering on the screen. But have you ever stopped to think about the ripple effect of those seemingly harmless actions? Our everyday choices, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, cast a long shadow beyond the glow of our screens. This shadow, unfortunately, isn’t painted with sunshine and rainbows; it’s often formed by the harsh lines of exploitation, environmental harm, and injustice. In our daily lives, we often overlook the profound interconnections between our choices and the broader issue of climate justice. The phrase “climate justice” extends beyond the conventional discourse of carbon footprints and sea level rise; it’s about the ethical, social, and environmental implications of our lifestyle decisions.

Understanding Climate Justice

Climate Justice and Lifestyle

Climate change isn’t just about rising sea levels and melting glaciers; it’s about the systemic inequalities and injustices that leave certain communities disproportionately vulnerable to its impacts. The exploitation of workers in developing countries, the unsustainable practices that harm ecosystems, and the unequal access to resources – all of these are components of the world of climate injustice.

But here’s the good news: you, yes you, hold the power to unravel these threads and reweave a more just and sustainable future.

Photo by Lisa Fotios

Climate justice requires us to acknowledge the impact of our actions on a global scale. It’s not merely an abstract concept but a reality deeply connected to our daily habits and consumption patterns. Our choices, whether related to food, transportation, energy, or even entertainment, contribute to the environmental footprints that shape the world we live in.

While systemic change is crucial, empowering individuals to recognize and alter their contributions to environmental challenges is equally vital. By understanding how our daily actions align with or contradict the principles of climate justice, we become advocates for positive change. This acknowledgment of individual responsibility is a catalyst for broader systemic transformations.

Traditionally, climate action has centered on reducing individual carbon footprints. However, the scope of climate justice encompasses far more. It delves into the broader social and environmental impacts of our lifestyle choices. Consider ethical sourcing in the fashion industry, fair labor practices, and strategies to reduce food waste; all these elements are interconnected with climate justice.

Connecting the Global to the Personal

Do you know the story of Máxima Acuña? More importantly, did you know that gold is used even in our smartphones and computers? It is not always easy to trace the gold where it is coming from due to the complexity of supply chains. If for a second, we consider a worst-case scenario, the gold in our devices might have come from places where unethical practices of mining are present. Unsafe working conditions, child labor, and affecting the local communities and environment – all might be components of the mines from where the golds of our devices came. 


So now comes the story of Máxima Acuña. Máxima is an indigenous leader from Peru, who stood strong against the encroachment of a gold mining company onto her community’s land. This land holds immense cultural and ecological significance, but the mining threatens water sources, biodiversity, and the traditional way of life for Máxima’s community. Despite facing intimidation and violence, Máxima became a global symbol of resistance against extractive industries and the fight for indigenous rights and environmental protection. Her story underscores the devastating impacts of unsustainable resource extraction on vulnerable communities and ecosystems worldwide.

And it is not just about gold and our devices….

Consider your smartphone, nestled comfortably in your hand. Its journey might have begun in a Congolese mine, where cobalt, a crucial mineral for lithium-ion batteries, is extracted using force and harmful practices that endanger the health and livelihood of local communities, contributing to deforestation and the destruction of crops and homes of the locals. The discarded e-waste it becomes could end up in landfills like Agbogbloshie in Ghana, releasing toxic chemicals like lead and mercury. This pollution impacts the health of the workers and residents of nearby areas causing respiratory illnesses, skin diseases, eye infections, and even cancer.

Photo by Mumtahina Tanni

The trendy outfit you bought for a steal online might have been stitched together in a sweatshop in Bangladesh, where garment workers, predominantly women, endure long hours, unsafe working conditions, and meager wages that barely cover basic needs. Shockingly, a 2019 report found that 0% of Bangladeshi garment workers and 1% of Vietnamese garment workers earned a living wage. Meanwhile, the textile industry is a major polluter, contributing 20% of global wastewater and accounting for 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, leaving its mark on ecosystems and contributing to climate change.

Trendy outfit shopping
Photo by Harry Cunningham

And that delicious avocado toast? Its creamy goodness could come at the expense of water-stressed regions like California, where drought conditions have left communities struggling to access this vital resource. Additionally, avocado production in Mexico can involve deforestation, displacing indigenous communities who have stewarded these lands for generations and threatening biodiversity hotspots crucial for maintaining ecological balance.

The reason for this discussion is not to make you go through a guilt trip but to help you understand the simplicity of the fact that our lifestyles have a crucial relationship with climate justice.

Intersecting Threads: Where Climate Justice Meets Broader Struggles

The branches of climate justice reach far and wide, deeply bound to social, environmental, and economic concerns. To truly understand the fight for a sustainable future, we must explore its intersections with other critical struggles, and acknowledge the role our daily choices play in reinforcing or unraveling these interconnected issues.

Climate Justice and Racial Justice:

A 2021 study published in Nature Communications found that people of color in the United States are 3.7 times more likely to live near an industrial polluter than white residents, highlighting the unequal burden of environmental hazards. This disparity isn’t simply a coincidence; it’s often rooted in historical policies like redlining, which denied communities of color access to mortgages and investments, concentrating them in areas with higher pollution levels.

Photo by Jon Tyson

Climate Justice and Gender Equality:

Women and girls are often disproportionately affected by climate change due to their roles in water collection, food production, and childcare. Additionally, they may lack access to resources and decision-making power during climate disasters. Indigenous women play a crucial role in safeguarding biodiversity and traditional ecological knowledge, yet their voices are often marginalized in climate discussions. Recognizing and amplifying their leadership is essential for achieving climate justice.

Photo by RDNE

Climate Justice and Indigenous Rights:

Indigenous communities steward vast areas of the world’s most biodiverse lands, playing a vital role in mitigating climate change. However, they face threats like deforestation and resource extraction on their territories, impacting their livelihoods and cultural heritage. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms their right to self-determination and participation in decision-making processes affecting their lands and resources. Respecting these rights is crucial for achieving climate justice and upholding indigenous sovereignty.

Indigenous people lifestyle
Photo by Breston Kenya

Now, instead of feeling overwhelmed, remember – you have the power to rewrite this narrative.

Empowering Change: Making Your Daily Choices Count for Climate Justice

Every action, big or small, contributes to the world of climate justice. This guide equips you with concrete steps across various aspects of your life, along with inspiring success stories and resources to support your journey:

Food:

  • Embrace mindful consumption: Fight food waste by planning meals, composting leftovers, and supporting local farmers. Apps like Too Good To Go connect you with discounted food nearing its expiration date, while Food for Soul helps you donate unused food to those in need.
  • Choose plant-based options: Enjoy meatless meals more often to reduce your carbon footprint. Explore delicious recipes and discover the vibrant world of plant-based cuisine with resources like Forks Over Knives.
  • Prioritize whole, unprocessed foods: Opt for locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for a healthier you and a healthier planet. Look for certifications like USDA Organic or Fairtrade to ensure responsible sourcing practices.

Vegan food
Photo by Ella Olsson

Fashion:

  • Embrace slow fashion: Buy less, buy quality, and invest in timeless pieces that last. Explore vintage shops, clothing swaps, and ethical brands committed to sustainability and fair labor practices. Good On You app rates brands based on their environmental and social impact, making informed choices easier.
  • Extend the life of your clothes: Repair, mend, and upcycle existing garments before buying new ones. Learn basic sewing skills or support local tailors. Organizations like Mend for Good offer workshops and resources for clothing repair.
  • Choose natural materials: Opt for clothing made from organic cotton, hemp, or linen, which have lower environmental impact compared to synthetic fibers. Certifications like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) can guide your choices.

Photo by Eunhyuk Ahn

Transportation:

  • Walk, bike, or use public transport whenever possible: Reduce your reliance on cars and enjoy the health and environmental benefits of active travel. Explore bike-sharing programs like Capital Bikeshare in Washington D.C. or Divvy Bikes in Chicago, and advocate for improved public transportation infrastructure in your city.
  • Carpool or choose fuel-efficient options: If driving is unavoidable, share rides with others or consider electric vehicles when feasible. The PlugShare app helps you find charging stations near you, and many carpooling apps connect you with potential carpool partners.

A man cycling in nature

Technology:

  • Reduce your digital footprint: Declutter your inbox, unsubscribe from unnecessary emails, and utilize cloud storage efficiently. Choose energy-efficient devices and extend their lifespan with proper care. Initiatives like The Green Web Foundation work on reducing the environmental impact of the internet.
  • Support sustainable tech companies: Look for brands committed to responsible sourcing, ethical manufacturing, and e-waste recycling. Companies like Fairphone and SHIFT Phones prioritize sustainability in their practices.
  • Energy: Opt for renewable energy sources at home, conserve energy through mindful usage, and invest in energy-efficient appliances. Look into community solar programs or ENERGY STAR-certified appliances for sustainable options.

Photo by Bradley Hook

Be an Advocate for Change:

  • Raise awareness: Share information about unsustainable practices, unfair labor, and climate justice issues on social media and within your networks. Support organizations working for systemic change in these areas, amplifying their voices and raising awareness of the issues.
  • Demand transparency: Hold brands and corporations accountable by choosing companies committed to ethical sourcing, fair labor practices, and sustainable practices. Write to them, engage in social media campaigns, and support initiatives demanding transparency and accountability.
  • Support policy change: Advocate for policies that promote fair trade, environmental protection, and sustainable practices. Contact your elected officials, participate in public hearings, and join organizations working to create a more just and sustainable world.

Throughout your journey, explore additional resources, engage with communities working towards climate justice like 350.org or The Sunrise Movement, and share your experiences to inspire others.

Also, here’s a resource to help you convince your friends and family to live more sustainably.

Building a Symphony of Justice and Sustainability

The fight for climate justice isn’t a solo performance; it’s a harmonious symphony where countless instruments play their part. Each social justice movement, each community on the frontlines, each individual choosing sustainable practices contributes a unique melody to the overall composition. Recognizing these diverse voices and their interconnectedness is crucial to composing a future where justice and sustainability resonate in perfect harmony.

The score may seem complex, the challenges daunting, but remember: even the most powerful symphonies begin with a single note. Every act of solidarity, every voice raised in awareness, every mindful choice you make adds to the crescendo of positive change. We have the power to demand accountability from corporations and governments, to amplify the voices of marginalized groups, and to empower ourselves and others with knowledge and action.

Remember, change starts with small actions, but the impact can be significant. By making conscious choices, demanding transparency, advocating for change, and supporting sustainable alternatives, we can rewrite the story of our consumption habits, weaving a brighter future where technology empowers, fashion respects, and food sustains. Let’s choose collaboration over discord, hope over despair, and action over inaction. Let’s learn from the wisdom of indigenous communities, celebrate the leadership of women and marginalized groups, and hold ourselves and others accountable for building a just and sustainable future. Together, we can create a symphony of hope, note by powerful note, where every instrument contributes to a world where all beings thrive in harmony.

The Tale of the First-Ever Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP : An Editorial POV

The Tale of the First-Ever Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP : An Editorial POV

Remember how Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World” filled us with hope, or how Mad Max: Fury Road‘s representation of a dystopian future got us thinking? That’s the incredible power of entertainment and culture – to move us, connect us, and motivate us to make a difference. And guess what? As media partners of the groundbreaking first-ever Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP28 in Dubai, we witnessed this power firsthand!

Imagine 12 days pulsating with energy, packed with over 100 programming events representing 60 countries and reaching a combined audience of 22 million! The E+C Pavilion wasn’t just a space; it was a global movement in action, fueled by the diverse voices and shared passion of artists, activists, and policymakers from around the world; it was a stage where cultural icons and celebrities weren’t just name drops, but passionate advocates; where music wasn’t just background noise, but a call to action; where speeches weren’t just lectures, but heartfelt pleas for a better future. That’s what we witnessed the Pavilion offer – a space where emotions ran high, connections were made, and one truth resonated loud and clear: change is possible, and it starts with the fire in our hearts and the actions in our hands. 

The essence of this editorial is to share not just the impact of the Pavilion, but to also explore how impactful narratives can spark conversations and inspire change. Ultimately, this is my reflection on the potential of entertainment and culture to become powerful tools for positive change, a message carried by every performance, panel, and conversation that unfolded within the Pavilion’s walls.

Assessing Success: A Multifaceted Triumph

At COP28, the E+C Pavilion was a movement in action, fueled by nine key themes that intertwined like musical notes to create a powerful symphony of change. Now, in order to actually understand the impact of the pavilion, let’s explore the nine key programming themes of the pavilion and also take a trip back in time at the Cop28 blue zone, B7, Building 90 of the Expo City in Dubai, to revisit some of the incredible events(only some, because there were like over 100 of them!).

Programming themes of Entertainment + Culture Pavilion

  • Creative Economy & Narrative Impact Climate Storytelling: We witnessed incredible exhibitions showcasing diverse artwork, poetry, and stories from Southeast Asia amplifying voices and perspectives often unheard in climate discussions. Workshops like the “Climate Music Workshop: Disappearing Studio Ghibli World,” merged music education with climate awareness, empowering participants to use their creativity to address environmental challenges. Moreover, events like the Indigenous Youth Perspectives on Climate Program provided a platform for young indigenous voices, highlighting the importance of intergenerational knowledge transfer and youth leadership.

A particularly engaging installation,Storytelling with Saris’ by Monica Jahan Bose, added a unique cultural perspective to the narrative. Draping colorful handwoven sarees from Bangladesh, symbolizing sustainability, this art installation was covered with collaborative climate art and climate pledges by individuals from around the world. 

“Through this initiative, Monica uplifts traditional practices in rural Bangladesh, utilizing her own traditional clothing as a tool for movement building, climate action, and empowerment. During COP, Monica will lead a performance and host a workshop at the E+C Pavilion.”

– Organizers at the E+C Pavilion

We talked to Climate Psychologist and Activist, Jessica Kleczka who believes that by harnessing the power of creative collaborations, grassroots movements can propel climate messages into the mainstream, fostering a collective recognition of everyone’s role in building a sustainable future. 

“Creativity has the potential to supercharge our campaigns, break echo chambers and reach audiences who care about the state of the planet but lack a powerful message they can identify with”

– Jessica Kleczka
  • Intersectional Artivism: The pavilion organized film screenings highlighting experiences from communities often overlooked in climate conversations. These sparked empathy and understanding, fostering the spirit of intersectional activism. Meanwhile, discussions linking science and storytelling, like the one with Christian Clauwers on climate photography, showcased innovative approaches to raising awareness.

  • Climate Communication & Cause Marketing: Powerful films like “YOUTH v GOV Film” sparked important conversations about mental health and youth advocacy. Events like the “Time for Better Earth Disco × Hope House event” combined music, dance, and community building, reminding us that climate action can be fueled by hope and collective action.

Founder of The Climate Propagandist, Julie Mallat conducted a unique workshop called “Posters for Climate Action” where she enlightened the audience on how we can craft impactful posters for climate action and what elements contribute to persuasive design, language, and storytelling. The workshop drew from the historic roots of persuasion and explored iconic propaganda posters to equip us with the tools, insights, and inspiration to encourage the cultural rebellion we so urgently need.

Climate Propagandist Workshop at Entertainment + Culture Pavilion

  • Social Impact Entertainment & Health & Mindfulness: The Time for Better Earth Disco wasn’t just entertainment; it was a space for collective joy, hope, and a sense of shared purpose in tackling climate challenges. On a more introspective note, Amina Rahma’s poetry reading offered a space for emotional expression and reflection on the human cost of climate change, promoting mindfulness and personal connection to the issue.

Some of the coolest highlights of the E+C Pavilion at COP28 was meeting iconic musicians like Ellie Goulding, Nile Rodgers and AY Young, and witnessing how passionate they are to use their art and platform to contribute in our movement to shape a better world. 

“Music culture and art are something that can break down all the barriers and build bridges to connect every facet of humanity on every level.” – AY Young, Founder, Artist & Performer at Battery Tour Movement

  • Cultural Heritage & Audiovisual Sovereignty: We enjoyed captivating performances by Singer Yana Mann and Violinist Annabelle Ho, where artistic talent intertwined with climate awareness. Events like the Trashion Kenya Expo & Open Call for Cultural Fashion Show organized by fashion activist Habiba Abdulrahman shed light on the waste challenges in Kenya using fashion and art as powerful and creative mediums while also empowering young people from different parts of the world to showcase their beautiful cultures and heritage and advocate for sustainable practices within the fashion industry. Exhibition by Bow Seat showcased student artwork centered on climate change, amplifying youth voices through creative expression. These events highlighted the power of art to connect people to environmental issues while celebrating diverse cultural heritage.

  • Sectoral Innovation & Policy: Events like the “Amazon: The New Minamata?” Film screening and discussion offered insights into the environmental impact of certain industries and potential solutions, aligning with the theme of sectoral innovation.

Film screening at Entertainment + Culture Pavilion

At this point, it’s pretty clear that The E+C Pavilion’s work at COP28 was a powerful evidence to the potential of entertainment and culture to ignite positive change. But how does this approach compare to past COPs, and what does it tell us about the future of storytelling in climate action?

Evolution of Entertainment at COPs:

While previous COP conferences have dabbled in artistic expression, it often played a marginal role while talks and policy discussions dominated the scene. The E+C Pavilion marked a significant shift, placing entertainment and culture at the heart of the conversation. This wasn’t just about raising awareness; it was about building a community, fostering empathy, and inspiring action.

Significance of this Shift:

The E+C Pavilion’s success demonstrates the immense power of engaging audiences on an emotional level. Unlike policy papers or scientific reports, stories, music, and art have the unique ability to connect with hearts and minds, bypassing cognitive barriers and sparking deeper understanding. This shift in approach at COP28 paves the way for future conferences to harness the full potential of entertainment and culture in driving meaningful change.

COP 28 Photo

Stories and Art: The Changemakers We Didn’t Know We Needed

I see you’re still reading this, so I’m sure by now, you and I both get why songs like John Lennon’s “Imagine” or Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” echoed through history, fueling movements for peace and justice; why documentaries like “An Inconvenient Truth” or “Blackfish” ignite public outrage and policy changes around the environment and animal welfare. 

These are just a few glimpses into the vast power of stories and art. They don’t just fill us with facts; they touch our hearts, spark empathy, and push us to act. Music ignites collective action, films shed light on pressing issues, literature fosters understanding, and visual arts provoke critical thinking. I find it strikingly beautiful, how art can really change the world, one story, one song, one image at a time.

Challenges still remain.

Despite the strides, the entertainment industry isn’t exactly a superhero just yet. Let’s talk challenges and opportunities:

Access to Funding: Securing dedicated funding for climate-focused projects remains a challenge. Innovative models like impact investing and crowdfunding can offer solutions.

Greenwashing: The risk of corporations using entertainment for greenwashing needs to be addressed through stricter regulations and independent fact-checking mechanisms. We need more transparency.

Greenwashing

In a recent conversation, Founder of TUAessence, Fernanda Lopez Lima shared with us how transparency is a key theme in her vision for change in the fashion industry. 

“Differences only occur when people care. And people only care when they engage, which is only possible by learning the whole truth. Without good and real storytelling it’s impossible to create mass consciousness awareness. Therefore, the best way to change the global culture of fast consumption is to make information transparency mainstream!” – Fernanda Lopez Lima

Limited Reach: While COP28 attracted a massive audience, ensuring wider accessibility along with diverse representation in storytelling efforts remains crucial. While the E+C Pavilion actively utilized multilingual content, subtitles, and partnerships with local organizations to help bridge these gaps, climate change issues still involve jargon and a narrative that limits involvement to a specific group of people.

“This narrative needs to shift, we need to make our movements as accessible as possible and we also need to change the way we are communicating about climate change, that is more understandable, that resonates more, and draws upon people’s lived realities. Art has had and can have a huge role in helping to do this.” – Ayshka Najib, Climate Activist

But wait, there’s hope too!

Hopeful

We interviewed Max Han and Nurfatin Hamzah, the co-founders of Youths United for Earth (YUFE), Malaysia’s leading grassroots nonprofit mobilizing youths toward environmental action through storytelling, campaigns, and advocacy. Han was also one of the highlighted talents of the E+C Pavilion. Here’s what they think,

“Culture and entertainment enable us to look at the sobering reality of climate change from different perspectives while filling us with hope to keep going – even when we feel like the world is doomed. Climate change can feel complex and overwhelming, which is why some people push these thoughts aside or even deny it. But we can’t afford to do so. Culture and entertainment can break down difficult concepts in ways people can understand, regardless of language or location.”

– Max Han and Nurfatin Hamzah, the Co-founders of Youths United for Earth (YUFE)

In terms of traditional entertainment, Farzana Faruk Jhumu, Youth Advocate for UNICEF from Bangladesh, highlighted its role in creating resilience against rapid urbanization and environmental challenges. From farmers crafting songs as a source of rural entertainment to facing the climate crisis, these cultural expressions help communities cope with changes, resist urbanization, and inspire grassroots movements.

“This connection to nature, expressed through cultural activities, becomes a source of resilience, inspiring grassroots movements that emphasize the importance of culture and entertainment in shaping and sustaining our communities”

– Farzana Faruk Jhumu

So, the opportunities for overcoming those challenges and harnessing the industry’s influence are vast as well. Let’s take a look.

Collaboration: Cross-sector partnerships between artists, activists, businesses, and policymakers can leverage diverse expertise and resources for impactful storytelling. Did you notice how the E+C Pavilion championed that at COP28?

Panel event at Entertainment + Culture Pavilion

In line with the importance of collaboration in the climate and entertainment arena, Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Youth Advocate for Climate Action Philippines reflected on the intrinsic connection between entertainment + culture collaborations and the ability to construct a vision of a better world. She points out the power of culture to unite diverse communities against profit-oriented global systems. As she puts it, “Cultural and entertainment collaborations are so crucial because they can reach new audiences and bring more people into the climate movement.”

According to her, these collaborations are like VIP passes to reaching fresh audiences and getting more people on board in the climate movement. Not only that, but she sees them as essential in constructing the better world that’s living rent-free in our minds and hearts.

“Once we have an idea in the grasp of the joy and love in the safety, and the softness that we could be having in a better and cleaner future, it’s a lot easier for us to keep fighting no matter what, and culture and entertainment has the amazing power to build all this in our minds & in our hearts.”

– Mitzi Jonelle Tan

On the other hand, Winnie Cheche, the Founder of The Eco Advocate, envisions collaborations as a tag-team match, where culture and activism amplify each other’s voices.

“The goal is also to connect with people’s hearts and minds, and to portray climate action as both relatable and cool”

– Winnie Cheche

Technology: Utilizing immersive technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality can create really powerful, interactive experiences that raise awareness and drive action.

Data-driven strategies: Tracking the impact of campaigns and gauging audience engagement can really help us maximize impact. Data helps us understand what works and what doesn’t, making future efforts even more effective. 

By addressing these challenges and embracing innovative solutions, the entertainment and culture industry can unlock its immense potential to not only raise awareness about climate change but also inspire collective action and build a more sustainable future.

My take on the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP

To be honest, from the point of view of a climate journalist who is always exposed to the doom and gloom of the climate crisis, it gets pretty overwhelming. But seeing it through the lens of art, music, and personal narratives really hit me differently. Instead of climate anxiety it gave me inspiration to act and play my part. Entertainment and culture, to me, have stopped being just distractions; they have become powerful tools for understanding, connection, and most importantly, action.

Panel talk at Entertainment + Culture Pavilion

By the time COP28 ended, I didn’t just have new information; I had a renewed sense of purpose. It wasn’t about waiting for someone else to save the day; it was about finding my own voice, my own story, and using it to contribute to the movement. Whether it’s sharing sustainable practices, supporting artists who raise awareness, or simply having honest conversations, there’s a role for everyone in this fight.

So, what’s our role in this story?

Are we content to be passive viewers, scrolling mindlessly through climate documentaries or tuning out powerful songs about environmental injustice? Or will we step onto the stage, utilizing the power of our choices and voices to rewrite the narrative? Such a revolution can only be possible when we all feel like playing our own roles effectively to make that happen. For that to happen, understanding the climate crisis from an empathetic point of view, not just from numbers and graphs and data, is needed. 

Mic on stage

“Getting this conversation started from a more human perspective is extremely important because facts have come out, scientists have come out, but it’s just not sticking. An important side to this is the human side, and I think that’s something that we can all connect on.”

– Maria Poonlertlarp, Thai-Swedish model, actress and singer

Here’s how we can play a major role in this (very real) apocalyptic movie:

Let’s Demand Change: Don’t be a silent supporter. Speak up! Contact your favorite streaming services, studios, and production companies. Let them know you demand climate-conscious content and sustainable practices throughout the industry. Share petitions, join advocacy groups, and raise awareness about greenwashing tactics. Show them that entertainment with a conscience is what the audience truly craves.

Amplify Diverse Voices: Seek out and share stories that go beyond the headlines. Support filmmakers, musicians, and artists from underrepresented communities who are using their talents to showcase the human stories behind climate change. Celebrate indigenous knowledge, highlight innovative solutions from developing nations, and give a platform to those often unheard in the mainstream narrative. Together, let’s create a richer, more diverse accumulation of voices fighting for our planet.

Panel discussion with musician Nile Rodgers at Entertainment + Culture Pavilion

Start Conversations: Climate change isn’t just a documentary topic or a social media hashtag. Make it a dinner table conversation, a watercooler chat, a casual chat with your neighbor. Share your concerns, listen to different perspectives, and encourage open dialogue. Remember, even small conversations can spark curiosity, plant seeds of change, and inspire collective action.

Remember, every action, every story shared, is a ripple in the pond, creating a wave of change. Let’s rewrite the narrative, turning entertainment from a distraction into a powerful tool for building a more sustainable future. But the most important question remains: what story will YOU tell?

Threads of Consciousness: Jane Milburn and the EFWA Legacy

Threads of Consciousness: Jane Milburn and the EFWA Legacy

Within the dynamic world of Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA), Jane Milburn emerges not just as a Sustainability Advisor but as a seasoned storyteller, weaving tales of purpose and transformation. Her roots trace back to a sheep farm in New Zealand, a foundation that instilled life skills and an intimate connection to nature. Jane’s journey aligns with the rhythm of slow fashion, cultivated on the principles of mindfulness and resourcefulness.

Jane, a sustainability consultant and author of ‘Slow Clothing: finding meaning in what we wear,’ delves into her early influences and the seamless integration of slow fashion into her life. Her career, navigating through agricultural science and rural advocacy, led her to champion the cause of slow clothing as an antidote to the rapid pace of the fashion industry. As a key figure in EFWA, she brings not just expertise but a profound commitment to natural fibers, sustainability, and a shared ethos that forms the close-knit family of EFWA.

In this exclusive interview, Jane shares insights into her role as the coordinator for the upcoming EFWA Upcycling Challenge 2024, a platform where designers breathe new life into dormant textiles, echoing Jane’s own journey of upcycling. EFWA, under Jane’s influence, transcends the conventional fashion narrative. It stands as a beacon for raising awareness about the environmental impacts of the fashion industry, a cause Jane passionately advocates. As we unravel the layers of Jane’s journey, it becomes apparent that she doesn’t just speak of sustainability; she lives it, fostering a community that echoes the principles of mindful living in the fashion world.

Could you share a bit about your early influences and what sparked your interest in sustainability, especially in the context of clothing and textiles? 

Sustainability has always been intuitive to me. We (humans) are part of nature so we can’t waste, pollute and overuse natural resources if we want to keep living. Looking back, I have always been a slow fashion practitioner. I grew up on a sheep farm in New Zealand and saw natural systems at work. I learned life-skills (to cook, grow, sew, knit and crochet from my ancestors) from my Great Grandma, Nana, Mum, Dad and Aunts. We moved to Australia for education and I graduated in agricultural science: always loving the natural fibres and being resourceful and creative with my clothing as an undergraduate. I had a decades-long professional career in rural journalism and communications before winning an opportunity to join the Australian Rural Leadership Program. The insight and perspectives from that postgraduate leadership training led to me stepping up to advocate for slow clothing as an antidote for fast fashion. My key interest is always in natural fibres and educating around the fact that the synthetic fibres (from which two-thirds of clothing are made) is actually plastic, polluting our ecosystems with microplastics and impacting personal and planetary health in ways that we are only beginning to understand. 

Can you share how your journey intertwined with Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) and how you became a part of this sustainable fashion community? 

I had been speaking out about the unsustainability of fast fashion culture for five years when Zuhal got in touch out of the blue and invited me to be involved in Eco Fashion Week Australia. That first event in November 2017 gave me a deadline for my book (Slow Clothing) and I was thrilled to have copies available at the sustainability seminar that Zuhal organised as part of the week. Up until that point, most fashion events were about the spectacle of beautiful bodies and exciting styles without any explanation or discussion about clothing culture, inclusive styles and sustainability issues.

EFWA is often described as a close-knit family. Could you please share your thoughts on that? 

Everyone involved with EFWA has shared values. We value natural fibres, sustainability, as well as kindness and care for all people and things. We all have a common purpose of raising awareness and influencing change in the creation and culture around clothing that is an essential part of living a good life. The huge effort Zuhal has put into creating EFWA is admirable and I support her endeavours in any way I can.

As the coordinator for the EFWA Upcycling Challenge 2024, can you tell us more about the challenge and its significance in promoting sustainability? 

Upcycling is all about seeing potential in dormant, damaged or waste resources and reviving them for a creative new life. For the Upcycling Challenge 2024, we’re asking designers to find a hero textile – a beautiful piece of cloth that may be sentimental, from a damaged garment or rescued from an op shop – and use that as the spark to join with other pieces of dormant cloth to create a fresh ‘’new’’ garment with a great story to tell about how it came to be in the world. Really the brief is wide-open, except on the choice of fibres which is a preference for natural fibres. We’ll be calling for expressions of interest in February 2024.

What role do you think EFWA plays in raising awareness about the environmental impact of the fashion industry? 

By its very presence, EFWA is a leader in raising awareness about sustainability issues – such as its waste, pollution, exploitation, biodiversity loss and climate-change impacts – that the fashion industry tried to ignore and is still grappling with. Through its focus on natural fibres, craft techniques, unique designs and creative reuse, EFWA is a platform for conversations about quality over quantity and the toxic problem of microplastics shedding from synthetic fibres derived from fossil fuels. EFWA is not focused on selling volumes or trends, it is focused on the meaning and special value of forever-garments that we want to bring into our wardrobes and hold on to. It provides a beautiful and ethical counter to single-use fashion, fast fashion and ultra-fast fashion.

Looking into the future, what are your hopes for EFWA? 

I wish Zuhal all the best for the future because it is her energy and creative direction on which EFWA depends. We all have lived experience of extreme weather events and understand that more anthropogenic changes are pending unless we dramatically change consumer culture that has become the norm in western societies. EFWA is part of the essential need for humans to be living in tune with nature. It is part of the Biorennaisance we need for survival, which noted human ecologist Professor Stephen Boyden wrote about in his ninth and most recently published book Biorennaisance: The story of life on Earth, including the recent rise of human civilisation and its impacts on the rest of the living world. 

What inspired you to establish Textile Beat, and what specific goals did you aim to achieve through this platform? 

EFWA advisor Jane Milburn in upcycled Silk dress
Photo by Robin McConchie

I set up Textile Beat in 2013 as a platform for speaking out about the way we choose, use and dispose of our clothing in a fast-fashion world. As someone outside the fashion industry with no vested interests, I had an independent voice and could raise issues such as fashion excess, textile waste, the second-hand export trade and that synthetics were hidden in two-thirds of our clothes.  I had never been much of a follower of fashion and trends because I’ve always dressed creatively by thriving, adapting and making some of my own clothes. Through my decade-long advocacy in this space, I now realise the entire fashion system was developed to make us feel dissatisfied so every season (or every week) we go out and buy more stuff.  

I won a Churchill Fellowship about the ecological and wellbeing benefits of being more engaged with our clothes and met amazing people with insight. One of those people, Cal Patch, described fashion as a scam that has planned obsolescence as its modus operandi. Cal had studied and worked in fashion before moving to teach people how to make their own clothes One was Associate Professor Otto von Busch from New York Parsons School of Design who said: “Fashion thrives on people’s uncertainties and anxieties. It needs people to not feel good about themselves, to come back next season and buy new clothes otherwise they lose their market.” 

Jane Milburn on the Great Marshes Cape Cod during her Churchill Fellowship
Jane Milburn on the Great Marshes Cape Cod during her Churchill Fellowship

He said “fashion consumption today is so user friendly, low cost and accessible … everything is just a click away and, of course, that becomes the easiest way to engage with the world. So people think why would I need to learn other skills then? And I think that this produces more alienation and traps us where we become dependent on the freedom that our money buys us, rather than the freedom of our own agency to do things ourselves.

But like Otto, I believe that the transformation of clothing (thrifting, upcycling, remaking) and the transformation of self are connected. Gaining skills to tinker our clothes helps cultivate courage to play and experiment with our clothes, our style and ourselves based on resources that are all around us. My Churchill Fellowship report is freely available, on the Churchill Trust website or my Textile Beat website for anyone interested.

Your book, “Slow Clothing: finding meaning in what we wear,” is a cornerstone in the slow fashion movement. What inspired you to write it, and what message did you aim to convey? 

The book was published in 2017 as a way to consolidate thoughts, ideas and actions that I had been writing about on my websites textilebeat.com and sewitagain.com in the preceding years. It is about slow clothing philosophy as a way of choosing, wearing and caring for clothes so they bring value, meaning and joy to everyday life. It is a book about living simply based on actions and choices that are “old-fashioned’’ common sense if we want to reduce our material footprint in a climate-changing world.

  

What advice do you have for individuals who aspire to contribute to the sustainable fashion movement?

Changing behaviours, attitudes and choices is the space I work in and what I’m most familiar with. Something to remember is that sustainable fashion is not a new product, it’s an attitude. The most sustainable garments are the ones we already own. Try up-styling and upcycling what is already around you (in your wardrobe or local opshop) before buying new. Things to remember are: focus on quality over quantity, choose natural fibres wherever possible, and make ethical and authentic choices in everything you do. Garment making is skilled work and people with skills deserve to be paid appropriately. If the price seems too cheap, then someone somewhere else will be paying (or is being exploited and underpaid).

Click to find out more about Jane Milburn and Eco Fashion Week Australia.

This is part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Fast Fashion x Designer: Accessibility or Exploitative Marketing?

Fast Fashion x Designer: Accessibility or Exploitative Marketing?

Love it or leave it, designer collaborations aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they are sought after. The major collab that had everyone buzzing in 2023 was H&M x Mugler, which launched in May 2023 and within 24 hours was almost completely sold out. Perhaps this goes without saying, H&M is a fast fashion brand. Fast fashion brands mass-produce garments in unsafe working conditions, under threats of violence and job loss in, largely, the global south. But the exploitation doesn’t stop there. What many consumers don’t understand, and this is by design and lack of transparency in supply chains, is that in order to keep prices low, brands pay their garment workers poverty wages. What’s more, is that these practices grossly exploit the environment. The United States alone accounts for 11.3 million tons of textile waste per year. Which is the equivalent of about 81.5 pounds of clothing thrown away per American per year.

Designer Drops, Fast Fashion Fever: Why Collabs?

Streetwear Fashion models posing for fashion brand photoshoot
Photo by Cottonbro Studios

So, let’s talk about it. Or more appropriately, let’s talk about high-low fashion collaborations in general. 

We’ll start with, why? Why collaborate at all? Why would a fashion house, a designer brand, sully their name by collaborating with a fast fashion brand? Especially when they put up such a fuss about exclusivity that they often damage their excess and unsold garments and goods by quite literally slashing and burning them. But collaborating with a fast fashion brand that sells cheap garments is totally acceptable and within their exclusivity framework? Questions abound.

While many designers and fast fashion brands will champion accessibility as the primary focus of collaboration collections, we all know the truth, right? Greed. Well, bolstered profit through cross-promotion and thus, greed. But as with all things in the fashion industry, the real answer is far more complex and nuanced.

A Brief History of Fast Fashion x Designer Collabs

A vintage pocket watch
Photo by Fredrick Eankels

H&M might be the most recognized for their high-low designer collabs, but they aren’t the first. Target introduced its first high-low collaboration with renowned architect Michael Graves in 1999. But their fashion designer collabs began with Stephen Sprouse in 2002 and really took off with Isaac Mizrahi in 2003.

Perhaps Target’s 2011 collaboration with Missoni is the perfect example of why fashion houses partner with fast fashion brands or big box stores. Through what they called their Designer Collaboration Initiative, Target’s partnership with Missoni outpaced any Cyber Monday or Black Friday online traffic up until that point. This partnership wasn’t restricted to just clothing, the collection featured 400 products across departments. The overwhelming demand crashed the Target website several times and the collection sold out within a few days.  

It wasn’t just Target and H&M that were testing the waters and building a collaboration empire. If you’re not in the streetwear scene, you might have missed all the collaborations that are an inherent piece of the puzzle. Collaborations in streetwear have been a long-standing staple. And much like the streetwear aesthetic, designer collaborations have been commodified outside of the community that was responsible for creating it. 

This should go without saying, but a strong, well-thought-out collaboration leverages the creative and elemental gifts of both parties. The resulting collaboration should look like a fusing of the brands or designers. The two should play together nicely, highlighting each other’s strengths while playing to the compatibility of the two. Streetwear collaborations were, and in many aspects still are, the blueprint for all collaborations.

Fast Fashion’s Dirty Secret: Exploitation Beyond the Runway

A woman wrapped in plastic with her mouth sealed shut
Photo by Anna Shvets

We can’t really discuss designer, or brand collaborations without giving a huge nod to streetwear and the community behind it.

Much like many millennials, the streetwear scene was born in the 80’s and raised in the 90’s. Think, RUN DMC as your streetwear icons, your OG royalty of the scene. Like many fashion aesthetics, streetwear has evolved over the years but I always envision RUN DMC, their influence on hip-hop culture is undeniable and they set the bar in so many ways.

While RUN DMC was slaying the streetwear game in the 80’s and 90’s, streetwear wasn’t accepted as mainstream until the 00’s (the Zeros) and really became a staple in the fashion space in the 2010s, read Virgil Abloh and Off-White, god rest him. Streetwear’s rise to mainstream acceptance and success was largely due to small, independent labels collaborating with each other as well as with larger mainstream brands. These strategic partnerships exposed streetwear brands to audiences of a much greater scale, hence the reasoning behind what fast fashion and designer collaborations aimed to emulate and exploit. 

Streetwear Fashion models posing for fashion brand photoshoot
Photo by ANTONI SHKRABA

Essentially it is this, fast fashion brands have a massive scope. Just consider the marketing dollars a brand would have to have if they are paying their garment workers a substandard wage, exploiting the planet, and using mostly fossil-fuel-derived fabrics. There is so little oversight and regulation that brands are practically encouraged to exploit every facet of production in the reckless name of exponential growth. So, why not capitalize on a growth opportunity disguised as low-cost designer wear?

Like many of my contemporaries, when I think of high-low designer collabs, I think H&M. And that’s not for nothing, there are a lot of marketing dollars and psychology that went into conditioning me to think that way.

History of H&M Collaborations

H&M has been partnering with designer brands since 2004 with a Karl Lagerfeld collection that changed the face of the whole industry. Often, and for good reason, fast fashion brands are accused of stealing designer’s runway and ready-to-wear looks in efforts to bring “trends” to the masses at deep discounts. But by partnering with Lagerfeld (and by extension Chanel and Fendi) H&M told consumers that they were more than just copycats. 

Mannequins in a shop posing for fashion brand
Photo by DanFLCreativo

Then, in 2005, Stella McCartney (a champion of sustainability) partnered with H&M to launch a line of low-priced separates. Now, to be fair to her, Rana Plaza didn’t happen until 2013 and the supply chain issues that shroud the industry in secrecy hadn’t yet had the curtain pulled back to reveal their moment of reckoning. Well, they haven’t had their reckoning yet, not really, but there has at least been more pressure and consumer demand for it. And through that sustained pressure, The Bangladesh and Pakistan Accords were born. 

But my favorite part about the Stella McCartney collab story is that the campaign largely had to be pulled because Kate Moss was the main model and just before the launch, news came out about her drug use. Read, the personal choices of an individual are what halts a campaign not the atrocious working conditions or below-standard of living pay rate of garment workers. 

And let’s not get that twisted. I am not condoning or condemning her drug use, I just think it is funny what people get upset about. Kate Moss’s personal decision to use drugs forces a brand’s hand to cut ties because she is the face of the campaign. But the treatment of the faceless women on which the whole H&M empire is built, the individuals who make all the garments, that is not enough reason to hold a brand (an industry) accountable. At the very least, let’s hope that all the individuals/creatives involved in the Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, H&M campaign were paid for their work

Bangladeshi Garment workers working in a garment factory
Photo by Crozet M. / ILO

We could spend several hours unpacking all the H&M designer collabs (Moschino, Simone Rocha, Erdem, Balmain, Jimmy Choo, and Vicktor Rolf), but let’s fast forward to the latest H&M collab with Mulger.

A Brief Overview of H&M and Mugler

H&M

H&M is a fast fashion brand from Sweden.

H&M rose to prominence over the past 30 years with the escalation of fast fashion and the use of the “test and repeat” model, which essentially turns styles over at an alarming rate based on buyer behavior.

H&M’s revenue was 24.35 billion USD in 2019.

Mugler

Mugler is a fashion house that was created by French-born Thierry Mugler.

Mugler found notoriety in the 80s with his unique expression, futuristic creations, and avante-garde collections.

The L’Oréal group, which owns Mugler as well as 36 global brands, generated 33.47 billion USD in revenue in 2019.

The H&M x Mugler Collaboration: Democratizing Fashion or Deluding Consumers?

A woman buying dresses from a fast fashion brand
RDNE Stock project 

The Mugler collaboration feels different, and that is by design. 

In the wake of social discord and things like the #MeToo movement, there has been a demand for more inclusive definitions of what beauty is. The campaign focuses on inclusivity and celebrates gender expression and all body types, not just thin ones. Which is a beautiful departure from Eurocentric campaigns. But that’s just the thing, it isn’t enough. To support some and not all is not the way. Not anymore, not in the age of the internet.

Many collabs seem well-meaning on the surface and, in some cases, they might have been. However, if they aren’t done in a meaningful way, one that supports all involved (from garment workers to models) they are just creating more exploitation and waste. The overarching question remains, should these collaboration collections come at the expense of the individuals who make our clothing? 

Back to Accessibility

In a press release from H&M, the brand stated that “H&M has been democratizing high fashion by offering global audiences the chance to own special pieces of high-end designer history.” 

Which feels like they are trying to center accessibility. But, accessibility in the fashion industry is an extremely nuanced conversation. When talking about lower-income individuals we cannot discount those who are lower income that live and work in the global South. So, if we are going to talk about the affordability of clothing for lower-income individuals, we cannot overlook the people who make our clothing who are making poverty wages. We cannot pick and choose. A fast fashion x designer collaboration doesn’t make it accessible. If we aren’t paying the individuals who make our clothing a livable wage, what we are creating is not accessible. 

Bangladeshi Garment workers
Photo by -Niloy-

Besides, it isn’t lower-income individuals who are grossly contributing to the overconsumption and the disposability of fast fashion. That title remains firmly in the hands of individuals who do fast fashion hauls by purchasing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fast fashion clothing and accessories regularly. You know the ones, they are all over TikTok and Instagram.

Investing in Ethics, Not Trends: Building a Fashion Future We Can Be Proud Of

A sustainable fashion model posing with her outfit in the sun
Photo by Eyup Beyhan

High-low designer collaborations are essentially designer-branded fast fashion. What might have originally started as a vanity metric from H&M to create buzz and up their street cred has turned into…a monster.

Also, just because it is designer doesn’t mean that it is sustainably or ethically produced. There is still little to no transparency in supply chains and most fashion brands do not pay garment workers a livable wage. So, it is very likely that any fast fashion x designer collaboration is produced in sweatshop conditions where the individuals who make our clothing are paid poverty wages while these garments are marked up exponentially with all profits going directly into the pockets of the billionaires that own the fast fashion brands or holding companies. 

The prices we have seen over the last 20 years have been established because of exploitation. Exploitation has been normalized. But, if we uplift everyone, if we pay everyone their worth and stop hoarding it in the top 1%, the cost of the clothing we buy will not seem like a burden. It is the tide that lifts all ships.

Let’s look past our desire to consume, to be “on trend,” to do things for the likes and status, and actually consider what we are purchasing. What are we actually paying for? A moment, a name, a status…because beneath all that, we are funding exploitation. The exploitation of people and the planet for profit, one cheap trick at a time. We vote with our wallets, it is time to show these brands, quite literally, that we are no longer buying what they are selling. 

Entertainment + Culture Driving Climate Action: Conversation with Experts

Entertainment + Culture Driving Climate Action: Conversation with Experts

What is the superpower of any kind of art? It has the unique ability to touch our minds, our hearts in such a way that can be inexplicable in words but so powerful that it can help us understand the complex, and make us achieve the unimaginable. You might ask, how? This year at COP28, we had the first ever Entertainment + Culture Pavilion that is now here to help you understand the answer to that question. Why? Because it is illogical and impossible to act on something meaningful without understanding, and without actions, nothing can be achieved. Achieving a safe future free from the threat of the climate crisis is the answer to that “why”, precisely.

You still might be wondering about how entertainment + culture can play such a significant role, in such a significant mission. We talked to twelve incredible game-changers in their respective fields to try to understand it a bit more clearly.

The Transformative Power of Entertainment + Culture

If you try to go through a little bit of research, it won’t be tough for you to understand that we, all around the globe, are going through a climate crisis. It also won’t be too tough to notice that numerous individuals and organizations from every corner of the world are tirelessly working not just to address the crisis but to overcome it. But still, it is not enough, it does not feel like enough, it does not seem like enough. An authentic global revolution is needed to actually get the job done. 

Such a revolution can only be possible when we all feel like playing our own roles effectively to make that happen. For that to happen, understanding the climate crisis from an empathetic point of view, not just from numbers and graphs and data, is needed. “Getting this conversation started from a more human perspective is extremely important because facts have come out, scientists have come out, but it’s just not sticking. An important side to this is the human side, and I think that’s something that we can all connect on,” said Thai-Swedish model, actress, singer Maria Poonlertlarp who was crowned Miss Universe Thailand in 2017, also reached top five of Miss Universe Beauty Pageant that year.

She further adds,

“We have all, in one way or another, been affected by climate change, some more than others. Clearly, some more than others.  So it’s important to bring these conversations to the table, and I think once this starts happening,  people may start understanding more,  and that’s actually how policies will end up being changed as well.”

Maria Poonlertlarp on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

Every form of art surely has the ability to present this scientific reality from an empathetic perspective. The arena of entertainment + culture can not only make that real but also has the ability to help us act on that understanding from a positive mindset.

Anne Therese Gennari on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

Renowned climate author, Anne Therese Gennari, known as the Climate Optimist, says,” I believe art in any form is incredibly impactful in inspiring climate action and nurturing a mindset of optimism, possibilities, and change. It’s easy to get stuck believing we must either fight the old or fight to keep the old, but what we really need right now is the courage to dream of something new. What would the world look like if we embraced change and decided to take action? What if we acted on climate change, not because we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t, but because we’re excited to find out what will happen if we do?” 

Artist and Activist Rick Frausto, who is famous for his unique style of art using pen and ink, believes so too.

According to Frausto, “I see myself as a way-shower. Through my work, I strive to contribute to a shift in consciousness that leans toward a more balanced, harmonious, and compassionate world. In this moment in time, the climate crisis is the fight of our lives. My hope is that my art connects with people universally on a deep intuitive level.”

Rick Frausto on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

Every form of artist holds this power of art to bring the cultural shift that is necessary to secure the safe future that we all deserve. There are different roles to be played and different audiences to be reached and inspired, differently.

Dorcas Tang on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

Singaporean artist Dorcas Tang Wen Yu who plays her unique role as an artist in this mission says, “I see my art less as telling people what to do, but as creating that space where they can engage with sustainability in a gentle, fun way. For example, getting kids to participate in painting a marine mural. Or create a fun adventure about composting from the perspective of little soil microbes to teach children about our relationship with the environment.”

Helping children to learn about our environment, the climate crisis, and meaningful climate actions is an effective and amazing way to shape cultures and ensure a positive cultural shift, because surely, today’s empathetic children are tomorrow’s conscious empathetic guardians of our planet.

Inspiring Individual Empowerment and Collective Changes through Entertainment + Culture

Artists are the stewards of change, they have the amazing ability to inspire people at an individual level. As we are going through the climate crisis, it is crucial for artists to play their role not only as entertainers but also as that kind of stewards. When millions of individuals, inspired at their own personal levels, start taking action, we get collective changes, and surely that is the kind of change that we all need now.

“All social movements have been strengthened by creatives. Artists help people to process events, to connect emotionally with information, and to feel motivated to stand up and act.”

– said illustrator and educator, Brenna Quinlan, who was the winner of the prestigious Circle Awards in 2022.

Brenna Quinlan on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

Qiyun Woo on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

Every kind of artist has the power to contribute to this much-needed revolution. In the words of Singaporean climate activist and artist Qiyun Woo,

”Art transforms minds and hearts, and plays a revolutionary role in helping society imagine and visualize the green and just future that we want – can work towards.”

Artists, who are doing their parts know exactly how important the job is. The powerful rapper on the mic for our planet, Hila Perry says beautifully, “Culture is community.”, and artists have the power to shape communities because through their artworks and performances, they can shape cultures, build communities, and bring changes. 

One of the major cultural changes that is needed to overcome the climate crisis is to move away from the toxic culture of hyper-consumerism, convenience culture, and the culture of throwing away. Instead of glorifying these harmful cultures, artists have the power to do the opposite and drive people in the right direction. “My mission really is to make loving the earth and living on earth really trendy and cool,” said Perry. It surely is not an easy job to shift the narrative, but it is surely important to do so to shift the culture, and entertainment + culture can bring that shift.

When we have an earth consciousness attached to us, basically then we can live more in alignment with our planet and have a more harmonious life with animals and plants,” Perry added to emphasize on the mission that artists need to pursue to inspire people culturally and bring the much needed meaningful change for us and for our planet. 

Hila Perry on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

“Everything that you do from your lyrics to your shows, your live shows, to your merch, to your statements, what you put out into the world – you’re influencing people. Your fans are looking to you to know what to wear, what to drink, what to eat, how to be, how to live. So when you model earth consciousness in your art, you’re basically giving a lot of other people permission to think that that’s cool.” said Hila Perry when we asked about what message she wanted to convey to other artists,” Go deep with what it means to be a human being on Earth and discover that also just for yourself.”, she added.

Deciphering the Climate Crisis through Entertainment + Culture

It’s not tough to assume that we get confused and feel lost when things like the climate crisis are described from a scientific point of view. We, the general people, understand that it’s important, but the tough narrative makes us move away from the curiosity of learning about it properly. This is a crucial spot where entertainment + culture can play as a medium between scientists and the general people. Through their art, artists can help us not only to understand critical scientific theories but also to figure out and take proper actions guided by those theories.

Cicely Nagel on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

“Culture and entertainment contribute significantly to inspiring change. The key to making climate science more accessible is clear communication! Simplifying complex scientific findings can help connect scientists to the wider public. By helping the public understand important scientific concepts, we can help increase awareness on climate issues and inspire real change.”

said Marine Biologist Cicely Nagel.

British Actress and BBC New Creative Amelie Edwards agrees to this by saying, “We hear all the stuff from scientists, which is so, so useful, but it can be quite overwhelming and hard to unpack and really complicated as well. Whereas seeing a story unfold from a human perspective is often easier for people to connect with and therefore easier to take action and see how you can change things within your own life and in your own world.” Edwards added further by saying, ” I feel like the best way to contribute to a message is through displaying it in our work because otherwise no one’s ever going to see it and no one’s going to know it exists or talk about it. And I feel like having a conversation is often the start of being inspired to take action and to make changes.”

Amelie Edwards on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

Artists through their specialties can reach millions of people, and the science behind the climate crisis is crucial for everyone to understand to take action, to ensure a safe future.

Joelle Provost on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

We need those that feel the strongest to create, to make meaning of this messy time and to decipher it.”

– said artist Artist and the Director of Sarcophagus Project, Joelle Provost while sharing her perspective about the role that artists need to play to make the science of climate accessible for all.

She also added, “Artists play a critical role in the reimaging of a better future. Artists push society along, just as Kandinsky said. All of this is vital; the difficult topics presented through visual and performing arts, and the dreaming of a better future.”

There are already many artists all around the globe who are actually doing this job if you’re wondering whether artists are playing their roles in it or not. Qiyun Woo said, “As someone who combines climate science and art, I hope to inspire action by quelling the panic, and fear and providing the tools to get things done.” Brenna Quinlan is also someone who continuously tries to educate her audience about the climate crisis and give them ideas to take action through her artworks. When we asked her about the knack of her artworks, she said, “My particular passion has been in making abstract information more accessible, and in changing the narrative on climate change from one of doom and gloom to one of positivity.

Art can surely be the most effective force in transforming culture in the right direction and bringing meaningful changes. Amelie Edwards reminds us that by mentioning, “I think in the eighties, there was a hole in the ozone layer. And in this country, there was a soap opera that had a conversation between two girls about hairspray just whilst they were getting ready; and they discussed the fact that the hairspray was creating this hole in the ozone layer and all contributing to it. And it was through that that obviously, people started to think, “Oh my gosh, we need to actually do something about this.” And then the government started to ban aerosols that were contributing to the hole. And when you remember that things like that have happened, you think, oh yeah, we really can do something about this with the stories that we tell. And it’s so important to tell stories.” 

Optimism and Inspiration for Positive Change:

It is undeniable that climate change as a topic can be really depressing. It will surely not be very effective if entertainment + culture just brings up the narrative of doom and gloom. In fact it has a chance to backfire because no one can take effective actions while feeling scared or depressed. 

So it is important for artists not just to make scientific information accessible to mass people through their arts, but also and more to instill hope in them and inspire them to take meaningful actions. “Climate optimism is a mindset that nurtures that curiosity. It’s not about sitting back and hoping for the best to happen but about sparking the inspiration and courage needed to let go of the old and build something new. We know what to do to reverse global warming. We have the science, the tools, and much of the technology. What we need now is our shared willingness to accept and embrace the changes needed for us to get there. Art in any form, may it be written, painted, or through music, has the ability to transport our minds to those new places. It helps us imagine new realities and spark a feeling of both joy and excitement.”, said author Anne Therese Gennari. 

Artists like Hannah Tizedes who is also the founder of the nonprofit The Cleanup Club agree with Gennari by saying,

“Art is an incredibly important part of creating change and the world we want to live in. Creativity has a way of connecting with people and right now, that’s what we need most. We need people to care, to come together, and to understand why raising their voices for a better planet matters. Art empowers people and because of that, art can help create positive change.”

Hannah Tizedes on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

Inanna on Entertainment + Culture for Climate Action

Talented musician Inanna also believes in the power of creative expression to inspire positive changes. ” Our creative expressions have the power to transcend, to connect with people on a profound level, and spark durable change. As performers, we are entrusted with a unique platform to influence hearts and minds. In this crucial time for our planet, it is fundamental to recognize and embrace the profound impact we can have on the global conversation surrounding climate action. It’s time to recognize the interconnectedness of all life on Earth and the role we play in shaping the narrative around environmental stewardship.”

However, it is understandable that artists might also find scientific theories tough to understand. It won’t surely be possible for them to educate others and inspire actions if they don’t get it properly. But it is surely not impossible, rather it can be fun. 

Maria Poonlertlarp shares her perspective on this from her own experience. She said,” For those who don’t know much about it,  who feel like it’s too big of a topic to chew or it’s too serious,  I just want to say I totally understand. I just also want to say that there are so many sources out there where we can get to, where we can learn,  whether it’s through documentaries or blogs or just joining groups.”

She further adds, “I want everyone to ask themselves first and foremost what they care about.  What is it on this planet that they care about?  Maybe it’s fashion, maybe it’s food,  maybe it’s art,  and then from there see,  okay,  that’s what you care about.  Now, what are you good at? And then third,  what organizations or what groups or communities are working on this?  And once you start getting involved,  it’s beautiful because you get to work on something that you’re already interested in,  and you get to utilize something that you’re good at to contribute to fighting for our world.

So I think it’s possible to do something about it.  It doesn’t have to be big.  You just need to start.  And once you start,  you’re going to be connected to more and more people who are doing this.  And from my own experience, I can just say that it feels great.  And I would want all my other friends in the entertainment industry to feel this feeling as well.”

So it can surely be very empowering for artists too, to learn, get involved, and share the lesson with mass people, and drive them in the right direction with an optimistic mindset to build the future that we all dream of, that we all deserve, that is possible. 

The Universal Language of Art

Now you might wonder, why do artists have to carry out this responsibility to educate and inspire others. If you take a minute to think properly, you will find out that the answer is not only easy but logical too. It is because art is surely a form of global language that has the power to connect us all.

Inanna acknowledges the power of art from her perspective as a musician by saying, “Music has a global reach, transcending linguistic and cultural barriers. This universality provides an opportunity to create a shared understanding of environmental challenges and global solutions.

She further adds, “Art is a potent catalyst for change. Through music, film, poetry, visual arts, and more, we can elevate the environmental conversation, raise awareness, inspire action on a global scale, and contribute to a collective cultural shift that is essential for addressing the challenges our planet faces.” 

Brenna Quinlan adds her thoughts on this by saying,” Artists help people to process events, to connect emotionally with information, and to feel motivated to stand up and act.”, and they surely need to use their platforms to make the climate conversation mainstream. 

Artists can undoubtedly go beyond their art to play their roles. To reflect on her thoughts on this, Hila Perry said, “It’s important to make sustainability the norm. When you see what artists are wearing, when you see the production, you’re thinking, what if everything they did was very sustainably minded? They would be influencing so many people and their whole production would actually be a message, or it would have this bigger impact beyond just the music and their dancing and all the things that they already give on top of that.” 

By using the power of the global language of art, artists have the ability to reach every corner of our planet and inspire people. That can surely bring cultural changes, and changes in the policies and how we do business. It is important for artists to realise the power they have. Just like Maria Poonlertlarp realized it and said, “For me in the entertainment business,  I think it’s mainly about the fact that I can use my platform and try to make it mainstream.

All of us love our families, our friends, our surroundings, and ourselves – and our planet is the home that holds these that we care about dearly. We need to understand that we all can play our parts to overcome the climate crisis through entertainment + culture. Some of us might not feel like we have an artist inside of us but that surely does not mean we don’t enjoy arts, so what we can do at least is to listen to the artists and share their message with others. Those of us who know that there is an inner artist, we need to step up now, not only because that would be an incredible experience but also it would mean something to contribute to the movement that matters, and it can surely give us a calm feeling of peace too.

In the words of artist Joelle Provost, “My aim is to express this admiration for Planet A and humility in the process, via paint and text. If my work is able to impact just a few lives then I can sleep well at night.

Harmonizing Hope: Voices of Activists Amplifying the Role of Entertainment + Culture in Climate Action

Harmonizing Hope: Voices of Activists Amplifying the Role of Entertainment + Culture in Climate Action

In the worldwide effort to combat climate change, entertainment, and culture have always been influential forces in shaping perceptions and steering collective action. As COP28 kickstarted this week in Dubai, let us turn our attention to the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion, a game-changing initiative fostering collaboration, education, and inspiration for climate action. This groundbreaking initiative marks the first-ever dedicated space within the COP28 Blue Zone, exploring the dynamic intersection of Entertainment, Culture, and Climate.

Activists globally recognize the impact these aspects can have in reshaping perspectives and driving meaningful change. To dive deeper into this, let’s hear from seven activists, youth advocates, artists, and conservationists to explore the significance and interlinkage between grassroots climate activism and the realms of entertainment and culture.

Creating Resilience Through Entertainment + Culture

Farzana Faruk Jhumu, Photo by @MarieJacquemin
Farzana Faruk Jhumu, Photo by @MarieJacquemin

In terms of traditional entertainment, Farzana Faruk Jhumu, Youth Advocate for UNICEF from Bangladesh, highlighted its role in creating resilience against rapid urbanization and environmental challenges. From farmers crafting songs as a source of rural entertainment to facing the climate crisis, these cultural expressions help communities cope with changes, resist urbanization, and inspire grassroots movements.

This connection to nature, expressed through cultural activities, becomes a source of resilience, inspiring grassroots movements that emphasize the importance of culture and entertainment in shaping and sustaining our communities”

Farzana Faruk Jhumu

Marinel Sumook Ubaldo, Photo by Pau Villanueva
Marinel Sumook Ubaldo, Photo by Pau Villanueva

These underscore the profound connection between cultural activities and the resilience needed to face environmental adversities. To further emphasize the expansive influence of artists and performers, extending far beyond the stage and screen, Marinel Sumook Ubaldo, climate justice activist from the Philippines, considers integrating cultural and entertainment elements into grassroots climate activism as a dynamic and influential dimension.

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, and the role of cultural icons places them in a unique position to inspire meaningful action.

Marinel Sumook Ubaldo

Increasing Accessibility in the Climate Movement

Ayshka Najib on Entertainment + Culture and Climate Action
Ayshka Najib, Photo by Pamela EA

To highlight the significance of cultural and entertainment collaborations, Ayshka Najib, Dubai-based climate Activist, reflected on the decolonization struggle of her home country, India. In her words, art, music, and culture are powerful tools in various decolonial movements, integrating music, songs, and visuals to convey emotions and narratives when words fall short. These tools serve a similar purpose in terms of climate activism, enhancing accessibility for all. She believes that climate change issues often involve jargon and a narrative that limits involvement to a specific group of people.

“This narrative needs to shift, we need to make our movements as accessible as possible and we also need to change the way we are communicating about climate change, that is more understandable, that resonates more, and draws upon people’s lived realities. Art has had and can have a huge role in helping to do this.”

Ashka Najib

Tania Roa
Tania Roa

Tania Roa, a passionate advocate for wildlife, environmental preservation, and social justice, had a similar perspective regarding the collaboration between grassroots climate activism and cultural/entertainment figures. In her opinion, this collaboration enhances storytelling, utilizing culturally meaningful stories that connect with more people, making it easier for the local community to understand the climate crisis.

“Simply by talking with people in non-environmentalist spaces, you can show others how the climate crisis affects them, their passions, goals, careers, and livelihoods. That’s when more people take action, and we need as many people as possible to create the greener, more just future we’re working towards.”

Tania Roa

Inspiring Actions and Bringing Changes Through Entertainment + Culture

Lamech Opiyo
Lamech Opiyo

The collaboration of activism and entertainment can be a powerful tool for inspiring action. Apart from visibility and awareness in climate activism, Lamech Opiyo, an environmentalist from Kenya, believes it can also create a shared sense of community and collaboration. They provide platforms for youth engagement, attracting large audiences through the influential figures of the cultural and entertainment spheres.

“Through high-profile collaborations and partnerships, this can attract the attention of policymakers and leaders, therefore influencing them to take more decisive action on climate issues.”

Lamech Opiyo

He also added that collaboration with cultural and entertainment figures can enhance fundraising efforts for grassroots movements through celebrity endorsements and participation in events to attract sponsors, donors, and philanthropists who may be more inclined to support a cause that has the backing of well-known personalities. 

Winnie Cheche
Winnie Cheche

On the other hand, Winnie Cheche, the Founder of The Eco Advocate, envisions collaborations as a tag-team match, where culture and activism amplify each other’s voices.

“The goal is also to connect with people’s hearts and minds, and to portray climate action as both relatable and cool”.

Winnie Cheche

Winnie believes that artists and performers’ voices can carry weight beyond the stage, acting as a tool for fostering a collective commitment to a more sustainable and harmonious world. 

In terms of cultural norms, Katharina Maier, the National Coordinator of Fridays for Future-USA considers collaborations to be shaping public discourse, influencing decision-makers, and contributing to a world where eco-friendly choices are the norm.

Artists and performers wield significant influence in shaping public perceptions, emotions, and attitudes – giving them a unique power to transform climate action from a scientific or political discourse into a cultural movement that resonates with people on a deep, emotional level. This cultural shift is essential for building a sustainable and eco-conscious global society.”

Katharina Maier

In the global movement to fight climate change, a powerful synergy emerges when grassroots climate activism, entertainment, and culture unite. From the songs of local communities to global performances, artists and cultural figures do more than entertain – they inspire. As we navigate towards a sustainable future, these collaborations light the way, encouraging us all to commit to a more harmonious and eco-friendly world that we all dream of. 

What Does Entertainment + Culture Have to Do With Climate Action?

What Does Entertainment + Culture Have to Do With Climate Action?

Can I ask you something? You can take a couple of minutes to think before answering. How can culture and entertainment play a part in driving climate action? Too tough? It’s actually not. Let me tell you why. But first, let me tell you that, there is a relationship between these three and that is exactly why there is a pavilion focusing just on Entertainment + Culture at COP28 this year.

The relationship between culture, entertainment, and climate is actually very simple. If you have ever listened to folk or country music from any part of our planet, you will find out that there are many songs from the point of view of the farmers; they express their emotions through these songs. You also might get some extra agricultural lessons from those songs too! There are different songs for the times of planting the seeds, different songs for the times of taking care of the crops, and different songs for the times of harvest. It’s not tough to understand that, the time for different agricultural tasks; from sowing to reaping; is different and depends on the seasons. So climate plays the most important part in agriculture, and for different tasks and times for those agricultural activities there are different songs, now these songs are part of a culture, and when you listen to them, they become a form of entertainment. I’m sure you’re starting to see the picture more clearly at this point.

Elders Chen Shifan, Dai Bisheng, Chen Shida and Jiang Xinglong, sing Wa Wu Mountain Song in the field in Yaozu, the Yao ethnic town in Longhui county, Central China's Hunan province on Aug 25, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]
Old farmers Chen Shifan, Dai Bisheng, Chen Shida and Jiang Xinglong, sing Wa Wu Mountain Song in the field in Yaozu, the Yao ethnic town in Longhui county, Central China’s Hunan province on Aug 25, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Intricate Link Between Entertainment + Culture and Climate

It’s impossible to think about culture and entertainment without the role of climate. Because the environment that we all live in, which we experience differently in different parts of our planet, shapes our cultures differently, so the forms of entertainment are also heavily influenced by climate. Just like there are poems and songs and celebrations to pray for and welcome summer in the countries that go through severely cold winters, there are different forms of artistic expressions and celebrations that pray for and welcome rain or winter in the countries that experience intensely hot summers too. For example, Juhannus, the midsummer festival of Finland which is marked by bonfires, traditional songs, and dances to welcome and celebrate summer holds an ancient and important cultural value. There are similar festivals in countries that experience similar weather patterns too –  Midsommar festival in Sweden, Jaanipäev or Midsummer day in Estonia, Līgo svētki or Midsummer festival in Latvia. Similarly, countries that experience warm and hot weather throughout the longer part of the year welcome and celebrate monsoons and winters. For example, Barsha Utshab in Bangladesh, Songkran or Thai water festival in Thailand.

Songkran or Thai water festival in Thailand
Songkran or Thai water festival in Thailand

Now you might ask, why are we talking about all of these? It’s because we, human beings, are at a crucial time now regarding the health of our planet. Due to the usage of fossil fuel, usage of toxic chemicals, deforestation, overproduction, overconsumption, etc., we are at the point of a time where we need to act vigorously to prevent our global climate from changing and going to an irreversible point of no return

This is not only a threat to our lands and lives, but also to our cultures too. You might argue that if some cultures get lost in time due to climate change, it’s not a big deal, new cultures will take birth and fill up those gaps. But it’s not that simple, because the cultures that we might lose due to climate change will be lost along with the lives of the people who represent those cultures and the lands that they live in, that they call home.

Cultivating the Power Art Holds in Shaping a Better World

But instead of getting lost in the feeling of sadness and helplessness, we all can do something about it. And you know what? Entertainment + Culture can be our tools to take those actions. Music, poems, stories, acting, painting, dancing, movies – everything can help us to take action for our planet and secure a future that is safe, joyful, sustainable, and just for all. These forms of arts and entertainment can not only help us to get out of the endless black hole of feeling helpless but also they can help us to be optimistic and dream about a beautiful future. Not just that, they can actually make us feel positively powerful to take action for us and for our planet.

Now if you are still feeling unsure how this can be true. Let me tell you that, it’s not only true, it’s effective too. Entertainment + Culture can play crucial roles in igniting climate actions, bringing meaningful changes, and shaping policies. Let’s delve a little deeper into this discussion, shall we?

Entertainment + Culture Bringing Effective Changes Globally

Climate action comes in different forms and it’s important to understand that. From choosing to buy fewer products, and buying eco-friendly products to community-based actions to advocating for policy changes; all are climate actions. Leaders from different sectors of culture and entertainment have the ability to influence many people by using their voices, arts, and platforms to take such actions, and they are doing so. Prominent celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Watson, Billie Eilish have successfully influenced so many people from all around the globe to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. This clearly shows that the sector of culture and entertainment has the ability to contribute to climate actions.

The influence of culture and entertainment is not just limited to bringing lifestyle changes. From ancient times, culture and its representation as a form of entertainment have inspired community-based climate actions too. Indigenous storytelling and performance arts from all around the globe have passed down the knowledge of their ways of living in harmony with nature to the next generations. This knowledge is helping these communities not only to live sustainably but to take care of our planet. Indigenous communities account for only around 5% of the global population but they effectively manage 20 – 25% of Earth’s surface lands and take care of 80% of our planet’s biodiversity.

In modern days, such storytellers and artists are also doing the same work and inspiring community actions. For example, Tanya Tagaq is an Inuk throat singer, songwriter, and activist who raises awareness about the climate crisis, educates listeners about indigenous knowledge, and inspires climate actions through the power of her music. Artists like Olafur Eliasson, founder of The Little Sun Project, Hannah Tizedes, founder of The Cleanup Club, are inspiring community members to take action as well.

It is also important to know that the role of culture and entertainment in driving climate action can reach policy-making levels too. The best example of this could be the small country named Bhutan, nestled in the Himalayas, known for its strong commitment to environmental protection and sustainability. The country’s cultural values, deeply rooted in reverence for nature, have played a significant role in shaping its policies and actions towards achieving carbon neutrality. Not to mention, Bhutan was the first country to be recognized as carbon-negative. The country is also famous for being the pioneer in the Wellbeing Economy movement and measures its progress not in terms of GDP but in terms of GNH or Gross National Happiness. Also, I think we all can agree on the role of the famous documentary of Al Gore, Former Vice President of the United States, “An Inconvenient Truth” in igniting conversation, contributing culturally, and thus having an effect at the policymaking level too.

So, What’s Happening at the E + C Pavilion at COP28

I’m sure by now you have realized the immense power that culture and entertainment hold in driving climate action. That is exactly why, for the very first time there is a dedicated Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP28 this year. This pavilion is acting as a hub where people and organizations from all around our planet are engaging to amplify climate action from individual levels to the policy-making stage through the power of culture and entertainment. 

The wide range of programmings of the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP28 clearly echoes the importance of entertainment and culture in climate action. Cultural leaders from all across our planet are joining in to make the voice of the pavilion stronger. From sectoral roundtables, discussion panels, interactive installations to fashion shows and musical performances to many more, the pavilion is platforming events to ignite climate action through entertainment and culture. The Enter + C Pavilion at COP28 is featuring remarkable cultural and climate leaders like Dia Mirza, Farhana Yamin, Jeffery D.Sachs, Hindou Omarou Ibrahim, Nile Rodgers, Mustafa Santiago Ali, Vanessa Nakate, Xiye Bastida, Omnia El Omrani, Laurel Kivuyo, Leo Cerda, Max Han, Habiba Abdulrahman Hemed, Isavela Lopez, Monica Jahan Bose. If the powerful voices of all of these talents believe that entertainment + culture can play a significant role in driving climate action and bringing effective changes, then it’s surely the safest bet to believe in them too!

Your Voice Matters, Your Actions Matter

Culture is an inseparable part of all of our lives. We are always consuming or taking part in entertainment in one way or another in this digital age. So it is actually possible for all of us to play our own roles in climate action through entertainment + culture. You can surely write, draw, paint, sing, act, play, perform in your own ways, and use your power to inspire others to take climate actions from individual stages to bring changes in the policies. Even if you’re someone who is not involved in any of these, you can still play an active role by sharing the messages of those who are doing those things to amplify the cause and inspire others to take climate action. It surely doesn’t take much to share songs or poems or any other form of art with your friends and have a chat with them after that to start the conversation about taking the necessary steps. Why? Because the beginning of that conversation will definitely result in some kind of climate action and it’s important. Isn’t it important to take care of our home, our only home, planet Earth? 

Beyond Borders: Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP28

Beyond Borders: Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP28

In the labyrinth of global efforts combating the climate crisis, a distinctive initiative takes center stage at the blue zone of COP28 – the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion (E+C Pavilion). This pioneering endeavor stands as the first dedicated space within the COP Blue Zone, delving into the dynamic intersection of Entertainment, Culture, and Climate.

Introducing the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion

The Entertainment + Culture Pavilion is an initiative of the Entertainment + Culture Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the USA & fiscally sponsored by Climate Generation. The Pavilion is co-managed by organizations in the climate & entertainment community namely Climate Generation, Dubai Climate Collective, Youth Climate Collaborative, The Climate Propagandist, Sauntr, and Entertainment & Culture for Climate Action (ECCA).

The Pavilion aims to serve not only as a physical space within the COP Blue Zone but as a metaphorical bridge connecting the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the creative industries. Their mission is to provide a platform for collaboration, education, and inspiration, and to establish a vital connection between the creative industries and the global climate discourse. This connection goes beyond symbolism, manifesting in interdisciplinary activations and programming events that inspire concrete climate action.

“As members of the creative sector, we hold immense power to shape mainstream perspectives, raise awareness on important issues facing our planet, build shared understanding and consciousness, and encourage behavioral change.”

The Partnership and Impact Director of E+C Pavilion, Samuel Rubin shared with Green & Beyond Mag

At the heart of the Pavilion’s significance is its unique ability to amplify climate dialogues globally. The Pavilion, according to the organizers, aims to be a space where “entertainment, culture, and intricate global climate dialogues intersect.” Its goal is clear: to use the influential realms of entertainment and culture to articulate, disseminate, and amplify pivotal climate discussions emerging from COP28 to a global audience.

Significance of the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP28

Amidst the urgency of climate action, the E+C Pavilion emerges as a dynamic hub pulsating with creativity, activism, ambition, and hope. In an era where social media platforms dominate communication, the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion recognizes the power of narrative impact and climate storytelling. “Uplifting the power of narratives and stories in promoting planetary justice and fostering an understanding of interconnectedness, kinship, and care for people, flora, fauna, and the planet” is a focal point.

Photo by Spemone

This approach aligns with the Pavilion’s mission to inspire collective action through the emotive strength of storytelling. Positioned within the Blue Zone, this pavilion seeks to amplify the emotional resonance and transformative power of Entertainment and Culture, fostering heightened awareness, inspiring collective action, and catalyzing systemic change.

“Climate change not only threatens natural resources, but also the cultural heritage of communities intricately tied to ancestral lands and waters. Culture therefore provides the imperative to educate and empower generations of community members to band together to generate locally-suited solutions to preserve natural and cultural heritage.”

– Samuel further shared with Green & Beyond Mag

Hence, the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP28 marks a groundbreaking venture as its genesis lies in recognizing the transformative potential of culture and entertainment in steering climate conversations. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscores the power of narrative shifts and cultural efforts, estimating that the committed engagement of 10-30% of social influencers and thought leaders is pivotal for shaping new social norms.

“The creative sector urgently needs more hubs like the E+C Pavilion. These spaces are crucial for building essential infrastructure, advancing decarbonization initiatives, crafting policies, creating economic incentives, securing funding, and ensuring diversity and representation across the entertainment industry.”

– The Communication & Content Director of E+C Pavilion, Kirsten Wessel shared with Green & Beyond Mag

The significance of such a platform extends beyond the COP event. The organizers envision a world where the creative industries and cultural expressions play a pivotal role in shaping the global climate agenda. The pilot edition of the Pavilion at COP28 is designed to be a stepping stone for a permanent presence at COP and potentially other high-level conferences within the UN ecosystem. This ambition is rooted in the understanding that the creative sector, employing over 50 million people globally, is a powerful force that can drive meaningful change.

Cultural Catalyst for Policy and Action

Emerging from this understanding, the Pavilion aims to be a nexus where entertainment and culture converge to exert influence. In crafting this unique space, the organizers draw inspiration from UNESCO‘s view of culture as the “ultimate renewable resource” to combat climate change. The Pavilion is more than a platform; it’s a testament to the urgent need to leverage the interdisciplinary skills and global reach of the creative industries for climate advocacy.

“Tackling the climate crisis will take decisive action at all levels of society, so why not harness the interdisciplinary skills and global reach of the creative industries to actively address and combat climate change? We have no alternative but to make an earnest effort, crucially because it involves adapting to the evolving climate and mastering the art of navigating our current reality. Whether conveyed through music, film, art, or otherwise, it’s essential to feel acknowledged and share narratives of resilience and joy within our global communities.”

– organizers at the E+C Pavilion

Connecting Threads: Entertainment, Culture & Climate Action

The Entertainment + Culture Pavilion positions itself as a bridge between the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the creative industries. The mission resonates with a commitment to inspire concrete climate action, fostering collaboration and leveraging culture’s power to engage a global audience. The organizers envision a world where the creative industries and cultural expressions serve as dynamic drivers of climate action and environmental stewardship.

The E+C Pavilion stands as a testament to the potent fusion of creativity and climate action. Through its objectives, the Pavilion aims to showcase the profound impact that culture, arts, music, and storytelling can have in interpreting the reality of the climate crisis. According to the organizers, “The emotive strength of these mediums taps into universal human experiences, transcending borders and languages.”

Quote about the relationship between entertainment, culture and climate.
Photo by Green & Beyond Desk

E+C Pavilion’s offerings throughout COP28 – Programming & Events


The Pavilion’s programming themes craft a vivid portrayal of its objectives. From exploring audiovisual sovereignty to examining the influence of persuasive industries in raising climate awareness, each theme is a thread in the larger narrative of leveraging culture for climate action. Notably, the Pavilion’s emphasis on health, mindfulness, and storytelling underscores a holistic approach to climate engagement.

As the organizers succinctly put it, “The Pavilion and its programming are designed to unite these subsectors and bolster the presence of the entire industry in the climate agenda.”

The Pavilion’s commitment to fostering collaboration is evident in its event formats. Whether through sectoral roundtables, discussion panels, or interactive installations, the Pavilion aims to provide a diverse set of avenues for engaging with climate issues. This inclusivity extends to community mixers, where people from diverse backgrounds converge to network and build bridges within the creative sector.

Panel discussions to be hosted by organizations like NAACP, Harvard, and MENA Youth Network will delve into crucial topics such as storytelling in the Black community for environmental justice, communicating climate change and health solutions through video media, and exploring climate action through the cultural lens of the Middle East and North Africa.

Panel discussions
Photo by Product School

Additionally, the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion will feature a fashion show spotlighting eco-conscious clothing and accessories. This exhibition goes beyond the traditional runway, championing innovative design and creativity while emphasizing sustainability in the fashion industry. It serves as a testament to the Pavilion’s commitment to intertwining culture and climate across various sectors.

Photo of a fashion runway fashion show
Photo by Rudy Issa

The lineup of performances is equally impressive. From Nile Rodgers, renowned for his contributions to the music industry, to spoken word performances by environmental justice advocate Isavela Lopez, the Pavilion offers a diverse range of artistic expressions. These performances aim not only to entertain but also to inspire a sense of responsibility and climate awareness.

Photo of singer and musician Nile Rodgers smiling
Nile Rodgers, Musician – Photo via Wikimedia

The Pavilion’s vision goes beyond COP28. It aspires to be a stepping stone for a permanent presence at COP and other high-level conferences within the UN ecosystem. By encouraging dialogue, igniting innovation, and mobilizing people globally, the Pavilion seeks to contribute to a more sustainable and habitable planet.

As we delve into the details of the Pavilion’s offerings throughout COP28, it becomes apparent that it’s a hub of climate optimism, as the Pavilion’s dynamic programming aims to instill a sense of hope and empowerment. By incorporating diverse voices, the Pavilion seeks to catalyze tangible actions and solutions across borders and sectors.

Recognizing the Importance of Diversity & Inclusivity

The Pavilion’s extensive programming, comprising over 190 proposals from around the globe, reflects its commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Events will be conducted in English, Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese, making the Pavilion a truly global platform. Private roundtables, interactive exhibitions, and community mixers highlight the diverse array of activities that participants can engage with.

Photo of a corner of a globe
Photo by Sigmund

Another crucial aspect of the Pavilion is its emphasis on talent diversity. From Indian actress Dia Mirza to climate lawyer and activist Farhana Yamin, the Pavilion brings together a diverse array of voices. This diversity is not just symbolic; it mirrors the Pavilion’s broader mission of uniting artists, innovators, and thought leaders from varied backgrounds to foster collaboration and synergy.

“A prime example being featured in the pavilion is Monica Jahan Bose, a member of our Delegation who founded “Storytelling with Saris”. Through this initiative, she uplifts traditional practices in rural Bangladesh, utilizing her own traditional clothing as a tool for movement building, climate action, and empowerment. During COP, Monica will lead a performance and host a workshop at the E+C Pavilion.”

– Organizers at the E+C Pavilion
Photo by Storytelling with Saris

“The Pavilion also features filmmaker collectives like Mullu, Midia Ninja, and Sauntr representing Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and the US, establishing community- or Indigenous-led media platforms to create fresh content that focuses on community cinema and collective creation while supporting audiovisual sovereignty over their narratives. With over 100 community events and 150 partners, the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion represents a diverse array of approaches to intertwining environmental concerns with arts and culture.”

– the organizers further said.

Highlighting Individuals and Talents of the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion

The Pavilion boasts an impressive lineup of individuals who have made significant contributions to the intersection of climate action and culture. Dia Mirza, an Indian actress and Goodwill Ambassador for UNEP, brings her influence to amplify environmental causes. Climate lawyer, author, and activist Farhana Yamin, along with world-renowned economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, adds depth to the Pavilion’s discussions.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President of the Indigenous Women & People’s Association of Chad, and Mustafa Santiago Ali, Vice President of the National Wildlife Federation, represent voices from regions deeply affected by climate change. Their perspectives offer valuable insights into the intersection of culture, indigenous rights, and environmental stewardship.

The Entertainment + Culture Pavilion also features youth leaders and renowned climate activists like Vanessa Nakate, founder of the Rise Up Movement, and Max Han, co-founder of Youths United for Earth. Their presence underscores the importance of empowering the younger generation in the climate discourse.

Xiye Bastida, co-founder of the Re-Earth Initiative, contributes to the Pavilion’s narrative with her focus on engaging communities and fostering a sense of global responsibility. Laurel Kivuyo, founder of Climate Hub Tanzania, brings a unique perspective from the African continent, emphasizing the importance of diverse voices in the climate dialogue.

Highlighted-Talents of the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion at COP28

Musical contributions come from Nile Rodgers, known for his guitar prowess and influential contributions to the music industry. The Pavilion also hosts a spoken word performance by Isavela Lopez, offering a poignant narrative of environmental injustices in Mexico and the United States.

These talents, along with others, represent a mosaic of experiences, expertise, and creativity. Their collective presence reinforces the Pavilion’s commitment to fostering a truly global and inclusive dialogue on the crucial intersection of culture and climate.

A Vision Unveiled: E+C Pavilion’s Long-Term Impact

In the heart of COP28, the Entertainment + Culture Pavilion materializes as more than a spectacle; it’s a visionary force intertwining creativity and climate advocacy. Beyond the dazzling events, the Pavilion paints a vision of collaboration, birthing a promise for a sustained presence in global conversations. This isn’t just an artistic spectacle; it’s a mission to align with the Paris Agreement’s ambitions.

Camera capturing sunrise
Photo by Ian Dooley

The Pavilion calls for the creative industries to decarbonize, transforming into a stage where the entertainment industry becomes a protagonist in the fight against climate change. It’s a canvas where disciplines intertwine, giving birth to artistic expressions narrating tales of resilience in the face of climate challenges. Here, existing initiatives find a home, converging knowledge to avoid duplication.

The Pavilion acts as a haven for collective wisdom, echoing the argument for the expansion of cultural spaces championing climate causes. Amidst this vision, the Pavilion’s programming themes beat like a heart, each echoing a different facet of the climate story. From the struggle for audiovisual sovereignty to the harmonious blend of music and ritual in service of science-based targets, the themes become threads that create a landscape of climate narratives. As the Pavilion unfolds its programming, it ceases to be just a platform; it transforms into a living, breathing entity — a storyteller in the grand theater of climate action.

Written by Shoummo Ahmed & Maesha N. at Green & Beyond Mag.

A Conversation with Lauren Di Meglio: From EFWA to Eco-Tourism

A Conversation with Lauren Di Meglio: From EFWA to Eco-Tourism

The journey of Lauren Di Meglio is a testament to the transformative power of passion and dedication. As a recent graduate with a double major in Tourism & Hospitality and Events, her love for the ocean and marine experiences has driven her to make a meaningful impact. Her family’s deep-rooted connection to the shipping industry has given her unique insights and a profound desire to preserve the beauty of our natural world for generations to come.

It was through Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) that Lauren found a platform to marry her love for the environment and her burgeoning interest in fashion. Her initial experiences as a model for EFWA were nothing short of exhilarating. The exposure to sustainable fashion practices, coupled with her growing awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion, ignited a profound shift in her perspective. This journey with EFWA has left an indelible mark, influencing her career path in eco-tourism and shaping her commitment to making conscious choices, supporting local businesses, and promoting sustainability.

Lauren’s story is an inspiration for aspiring individuals seeking to make a positive impact on the environment. It’s a reminder that every small step towards a more sustainable future counts, and when fueled by passion, the possibilities are endless. EFWA, with its focus on sustainable fashion, played a pivotal role in guiding Lauren toward a career dedicated to eco-tourism and environmental preservation. The journey continues, and the influence of EFWA shines brightly in her path ahead.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background in the eco-tourism and fashion industries?


My name is Lauren Di Meglio, I am 22 years old and have recently graduated from Curtin University with a Commerce degree, double majoring in Tourism & Hospitality and Events. Growing up I’ve always loved the ocean, beaches, rivers, and any body of water. Living in Perth and consistently traveling back and forth from a small fishing island in Italy, Ischia, my family and I have always been lucky enough to surround ourselves with marine experiences almost daily. My immediate and extended family on both sides work within the shipping industry, which has given me the opportunity to learn insights into the industry. As my love for the marine world grows, so does my passion and desire to preserve the experiences it provides for future generations. I intend to use my degree to help conserve and protect tourism destinations and to develop environmentally-conscious experiences for visiting tourists and locals.

Designer: Green Embassy

How did you first get involved with Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA)? Can you share your initial impressions and experiences?


In 2017, I had been with Dene for 2 years and was confident in front of a camera and up on the runway. She mentioned a modeling call for Eco-Fashion Week Australia, an idea/concept that I hadn’t heard of before. From the moment my mum and I met Zuhal, we knew we wanted to be a part of EFWA! We would go to Fremantle every 2nd weekend to practice walking, try on beautiful garments, and involve ourselves in extra opportunities; Dowerin Field Days, Taylor Winery Events, etc.

The EFWA 2017 event was thrilling! As a 16-year-old, having the opportunity to be photographed, interviewed, and walk the runway in front of a new and growing audience every night for 5-days was incredible. The confidence and pride the experience gave me is something unmatched.

Going into the 2nd year of EFWA, Emily Craig, Taleisha Lee and I (and our mothers) were lucky enough to work closely with Zuhal. We would assist in running the runway training for the EFWA 2018 team, we were involved in numerous “bonus” photoshoots for the Green Embassy and even other international designers. We will always be EFWA’s and Zuhal’s #1 fans.

EFWA is known for its focus on sustainable fashion. How did participating in this event influence your perspective on fashion and sustainability?


I learned so much from Zuhal and the other designers about fashion pollution/fast fashion, up-cycled fashion, natural materials and dying processes, and all of the individual and unique ways that the designers would create their art. Learning these things gave me an appreciation for the designers and their work as it gave me an insight into the thought process behind the end result. It taught me, as a teenager who would regularly shop with friends at fast fashion outlets, the impact that my actions have on the environment around me, socially, economically, and environmentally. This helped me to rethink and reassess;

1. What do I want to support; big corporations who mass produce low-quality items or individual artists who carefully craft their designs with passion and consideration?

2. How can I benefit from buying locally or from slow fashion artists?

I learned that although slow fashion items may come with a bigger price tag, the item would always last in my wardrobe for longer as it isn’t trying to fit into a trend, the quality is better, and the personal connection with the piece. The knowledge that I learned from EFWA has stuck with me and has inspired me throughout my studies to keep conscious of my impact, current and future.

What aspects of EFWA’s sustainable fashion ethos resonated with you the most, and why?


I love that EFWA stands to educate, promote, and entertain its audience, both through physical events and media content, on the importance of shopping quality, and slow fashion. It teaches you to shift your perspective of fashion, reconsider your shopping habits, and make a more conscious and educated decision when it comes to shopping. The knowledge and moral value that EFWA passes on to its audience plants a new way of thinking that will ultimately benefit the individual, the fashion industry, and the environment around us.

In your opinion, how do sustainable fashion and eco-tourism intersect, and what role do they play in promoting environmental consciousness?


In my view, I wouldn’t be able to work for an eco-industry while ignoring another. I chose to venture into the eco-tourism industry because I want to preserve and conserve the natural environment around us, although my work may not directly correlate with the fashion industry, they ultimately have impacts on each other in the long run. The overarching ideologies of eco-fashion and eco-tourism overlap, for example, the simple idea of supporting local businesses is always a great way to ensure you are getting quality products and/or services.

Designer: Green Embassy

How has your involvement with EFWA influenced your career path and aspirations, particularly in the field of eco-tourism?


The knowledge I gained from being a part of EFWA has assisted me throughout my studies and my day-to-day decision-making. During my time with EFWA I have traveled to many WA towns and locations, learning about their agricultural practices and the different ways of living (rural vs. city living), I learned about small, conscious decisions that people make in their everyday lives that benefit themselves and their environment. Through learning these behaviors and seeing the impacts that these could have on a community, I became intrigued by the small changes I could make to benefit other towns and individuals. This sparked an interest in tourism development and helped me throughout my studies by relating to these experiences.

Photo by Harry Leonard Imagery at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2018

You have just obtained a bachelor’s degree in commerce, majoring in tourism, events, and hospitality. How has your education complemented your passion for eco-tourism?


Throughout my degree, my favourite units were always the ones that covered tourism development and tourism conservation. I felt as though these units taught me the most about how I could make an impact through eco-tourism and allowed me to fuel my passion. I used my assignments as a means to put my ideas of conservation to the test, and I often reflected on my years of travel and experiences abroad. I would tailor my assignments to marine-based destinations when possible to keep my engagement high and use my knowledge of the shipping industry and individual companies to my advantage. Eco-tourism allowed me to find an industry that incorporated all of my interests and aspirations.

What advice would you give to aspiring individuals who are looking to make a positive impact on the environment through their careers, whether in fashion or eco-tourism?


Through my studies, I was often overwhelmed with the facts of how much damage has been caused by the fashion industry, how difficult it can be to make a conscious decision, and how I would be able to make a difference. It is important to remember that all you can do is take a step in the right direction, and then another, and another. Throughout my assignments, I would make conscious decisions about the destinations I was researching to make them relevant to the field in which I aspire to work. I would suggest to do the same, study and research the areas that you are passionate about. Take lessons that you learn through your studies and apply them to everyday living, and vice versa, take lessons and experiences from your years of living and apply these to your studies. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Designer: Green Embassy

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your journey, your passion for eco-tourism, or the influence of EFWA in shaping your path?


EFWA has made a massive impact on my personal journey, it has taught me so many life lessons and has given me the opportunity to meet incredible individuals from all around the world. The years of getting to meet and know Zuhal, her family, and the other amazing friends that we still hold close to this day, was an incredibly valuable experience that I am so grateful for.

Click to find out more about Lauren Di Meglio and Eco Fashion Week Australia.

This is part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

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