Let’s talk Sustainable Beauty: The Planet & You Deserve Better

Let’s talk Sustainable Beauty: The Planet & You Deserve Better

Remember wandering the beauty aisles, hypnotized by the fancy colors and promises of perfection in a bottle? Girl, same. But lately, for me, something shifted. Call it curiosity, call it a growing conscience, but I’ve started to see the hidden costs behind those glossy labels. Turns out, that radiant complexion might come with a hefty price tag for the planet. So, here I am, a few discoveries and learning curves deeper, convinced that this Sustainable Beauty thing isn’t just a trend. It’s a revolution waiting to happen. It’s about peeling back the layers of what we put on our bodies, understanding how it impacts the world, and demanding better.

Think about the ingredients – what’s lurking behind those fancy names? Production – is it ethical, sustainable? Packaging – is it just another drop in a mountain of plastic? It’s a rabbit hole, and I’m still exploring, but I’m not going alone. Come join me, on this journey to unmask the truth about beauty and explore the world of Sustainable Beauty. 

But First, What Exactly is Sustainable beauty?

Woman sitting in a vanity in the middle of a garden with sustainable beauty products
Photo by Cottonbro Studio

Hold on, before we dive headfirst into the world of cruelty-free mascara and refillable moisturizers, let’s clear the air. What exactly is this “sustainable beauty” that everyone’s talking about?

Well, think of it like this: it’s not just about swapping your usual products for “green” versions (although, kudos if you already have!). Sustainable beauty goes way deeper. It’s about making conscious choices throughout your beauty routine, from the ingredients you put on your skin to the impact those choices have on the planet and its people.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Ingredients: Sustainable beauty products often prioritize natural, organic, and ethically sourced ingredients. This means avoiding harmful chemicals, minimizing use of synthetics, and supporting responsible farming practices.

Photo of a sustainable beauty
Photo by Victoria Emerson

  • Production: It’s not just about what’s in the product, but how it’s made. Sustainable brands aim to minimize their environmental footprint throughout the production process. This includes prioritizing practices that minimize water usage, reducing pollution, treating workers fairly, and using renewable energy.
  • Packaging: Gone are the days of mountains of plastic waste. Sustainable beauty embraces eco-friendly packaging, like recycled materials or refillable options like glass, bamboo, or compostable or other compostable options. Reducing and minimizing packaging is also encouraged.

Photo by Alesia Kozik

  • Overall Waste Reduction: Minimizing waste throughout the product life cycle is crucial. This includes encouraging product longevity, offering refills, and promoting proper recycling or composting of packaging.
  • Ethics: It’s about looking beyond the surface and supporting brands that prioritize fair trade, cruelty-free practices, and responsible sourcing.

Now, Here’s Why We NEED to Choose Sustainable Beauty

The reality is, our self-care, just like our every other small choice, ripples outwards, impacting not just our skin but the entire planet. While we’ve been recently hearing a lot of talk about Sustainable beauty, it isn’t really a trend; it’s a conscious shift, a way to rewrite the narrative of beauty with respect for the Earth and its inhabitants. It’s about delving deeper than the surface, understanding the ingredients we put on our bodies, how they’re made, and the impact those choices have on our environment and the lives of others. 

Zahra Kihel, co-founder of clean makeup brand Zakiella says, “Sustainability in beauty is all about caring for ourselves and our planet. When we choose sustainable products, like those created by Zakiella, we’re selecting items made with clean and carefully examined ingredients, tracing back to more local, organic sources whenever possible.” She further adds:

Choosing sustainable beauty products means moving beyond just clean ingredients — the focus becomes a commitment to health and ethics, for ourselves and our environment.”

– Zahra Kihel, Co-founder, Zakiella

For the Earth We Share:

  • Reducing pollution: Ditch the harsh chemicals and microplastics that pollute our waterways and harm precious ecosystems. Opting for sustainable products means less environmental damage, cleaner water, and a healthier planet for everyone.
  • Saving Our Resources: From plant-based ingredients to recycled packaging, sustainable beauty conserves precious resources like water and energy. Think of it as giving back to the Earth that nourishes us all.
  • Fighting Climate Change: Climate change is real, and the beauty industry plays its part. Sustainable practices like eco-friendly production and reduced carbon footprints help combat the issue, one mascara tube at a time.

Photo by Cup of Couple

For Your Own Well-being:

  • Saying No to Harsh Chemicals and microplastics: No more worrying about hidden toxins, microplastics or harsh ingredients that irritate your skin and affect your health. We talked to Corinne Lefebvre, Co-founder of River Organics

“There has been a lot in the news lately about microplastics and how they have found them inside pregnant women’s placenta, and that they are clogging our arteries and to me this will fuel a wake up call. This isn’t just about being ‘sustainable’, this is a health crisis.

– Corinne Lefebvre, Co-founder of River Organics

Sustainable beauty prioritizes natural, gentle ingredients that nourish your skin and promote overall health.

Photo by Bennie Lukas Bester

  • Bye-Bye Allergies: Say goodbye to itchy rashes and red eyes! By avoiding harsh chemicals and opting for natural ingredients, you minimize the risk of allergic reactions and enjoy the beauty routine you deserve.
  • Feeling Good Inside and Out: Sustainable beauty isn’t just about the surface. It’s about understanding how what you put on your skin affects your overall well-being. Choosing natural ingredients and supporting ethical practices promotes holistic health from the inside out. 

For a World We Care About:

  • Fairness for All: Sustainable beauty champions fair trade practices, ensuring workers behind the scenes are treated ethically and compensated fairly. Your choices empower communities and promote a more just world.
  • Supporting Your Community: Supporting local, sustainable brands keeps your dollars circulating within your community, fostering growth and opportunity for businesses around you.
  • Kindness to Animals: Cruelty-free practices mean no animals are harmed in the name of beauty. Choosing sustainable brands ensures your beauty routine aligns with your values and promotes animal welfare.

Photo by Pixabay

Kihel further added, “At Zakiella, we took a stance to refuse to use microplastic ingredients in our products and striving for minimalist formulations with maximum performance. We focus only on what’s necessary and eliminate elements like microplastics, synthetic fragrances, parabens, and more.” 

“Sustainable beauty helps protect our wellbeing and the health of pollinators and wildlife, all while reducing waste and keeping our environment cleaner and safer.”

– Zahra Kihel, Co-founder, Zakiella

Beyond the Label: Choosing Sustainable Products

So, you’re ready to dive into sustainable beauty, but where to begin? Navigating the aisle of green labels and eco-friendly claims can feel like deciphering hieroglyphics. Fear not, beauty explorer! Let’s shed some light on these key aspects:

Demystifying the Certifications:

Those little logos on your products can offer clues, but they’re not foolproof. Here are some common ones and what they mean:

Leaping Bunny: This bunny guarantees no animal testing at any stage of production.

B Corp: This certification signifies the brand meets high standards for social and environmental responsibility.

USDA Organic: This label assures at least 95% organic ingredients in cosmetics.

Remember, certifications are just one piece of the puzzle. Research the brand’s overall practices to get the full picture.

Ingredient Transparency: Don’t Be Fooled by Greenwashing

Beware of brands boasting “natural” or “eco-friendly” without being transparent about their ingredients. Look for specific ingredient lists and avoid products with hidden nasties like parabens or sulfates. Research unfamiliar ingredients and prioritize brands that prioritize transparency and ethical sourcing.

Packaging and Waste Reduction: It’s Not Just About What’s Inside:

Sustainable beauty goes beyond the formula. Look for products with minimal or recycled packaging, and consider brands with refill programs to reduce waste. Opt for solid products like shampoo bars or reusable applicators whenever possible.

Photo by Valeria Boltneva

Brand Values and Practices: Dig Deeper for True Sustainability:

Don’t just rely on labels; research the brand’s philosophy and practices. Do they prioritize fair trade? Are they committed to minimizing their environmental footprint? Choose brands whose values align with yours, supporting those who are truly walking the talk.

Getting Started with Sustainable Beauty

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Fear not! Here are some tips to make it accessible and easy to integrate into your routine:

Knowledge is Power:

Start Small, Shine Bright:

  • Swap it out: Don’t feel pressured to overhaul your entire routine. Choose one product at a time, like your shampoo or moisturizer, and replace it with a sustainable option.
  • Prioritize based on needs: Consider your budget and skin concerns when making choices. For example, if you have sensitive skin, prioritize natural and gentle ingredients.

Be a Minimalist, Not a Maximalist:

  • Multi-purpose magic: Opt for products that serve multiple purposes, like a tinted moisturizer or a cleansing balm that doubles as a makeup remover.
  • Simplify your routine: Focus on essential steps like cleansing, moisturizing, and sun protection. Less is often more!

Support the Changemakers:

  • Shop local, think global: Seek out small, sustainable brands committed to ethical practices and local sourcing. Apps like Yuka and Think Dirty can really help with identifying sustainable products when shopping.
  • Refill, don’t replace: Choose brands offering refill programs to minimize packaging waste.

DIY with Caution:

Consider natural alternatives like coconut oil for makeup removal or apple cider vinegar as a toner. However, always research extensively and do patch tests before applying things to your face.

Be Earth-Conscious:

Recycle and dispose: Properly recycle or dispose of used products and packaging according to local guidelines. Every little bit counts!

Last but not the least, always remember not fall for eco-shaming, and focus on doing the best you can instead. Don’t forget to always celebrate your small changes and build on them slowly. Be kind to yourself.

Challenges and Considerations

  • Greenwashing: Be wary of misleading marketing claims. Look for certifications from independent bodies like Leaping Bunny or B Corp for verified sustainability practices.
  • Cost: Sustainable products can sometimes be more expensive due to responsible sourcing and ethical production. Consider investing in key items like moisturizer or sunscreen, and prioritizing quality over quantity.
  • Accessibility: Not everyone has equal access to sustainable beauty options due to cost and availability. Supporting local, small businesses and advocating for wider accessibility are crucial.

The Future of Sustainable Beauty

Here’s the thing: the future is sustainable, or there is none. Hence, the world of beauty is brimming with exciting developments, paving the way for a more ethical and eco-friendly future. 

“I don’t see any other way to operate or run a company in 2024. If I’m going to put something out there, with my name on it then it is not going to be part of the larger problem, and hopefully it will help in some way. Whether we help people make a non-toxic ingredient switch, a sustainable switch or we can help in any other small way, then that is the only way I feel we can operate.”

– Corinne Lefebvre, Co-founder of River Organics

Let’s peek into the crystal ball and see what’s brewing:

Innovation on the Horizon

  • Biotechnology: Lab-grown ingredients are emerging as an alternative to resource-intensive cultivation practices. Think plant-based squalane or collagen!
  • Solid beauty: Shampoo bars, deodorant sticks, and even toothpaste tablets are gaining traction, reducing plastic waste significantly. You can check out brands like Brixy.
  • Waterless formulations: These innovative products like the ones from Dew Mighty minimize water usage and transportation emissions, offering effective alternatives to traditional liquids.

  • Upcycled ingredients: Food waste like apple cores or coffee grounds are finding new life in beauty products, reducing waste and adding unique properties.
  • Refill and reuse systems: Brands are offering refillable containers and encouraging consumers to reuse packaging, minimizing single-use plastics.

We hope that people will continue to discover the beauty of sustainable cosmetics and realize that we don’t need to compromise ethics for performance. If companies are held to a higher standard and products with microplastics or excessive packaging are avoided, that could make a huge impact on protecting our earth and water sources.

– Zahra Kihel – Co-founder, Zakiella

At this point, it’s crystal clear that sustainability is not really a niche trend; it’s a tidal wave reshaping the industry. Major brands are embracing eco-friendly practices, ethical sourcing, and circular economies. This shift is driven by a growing consumer demand for transparency and responsibility, and it’s creating a future where beauty and sustainability go hand-in-hand.

Your Voice Makes a Difference:

Remember, you are not just a consumer, but a powerful force for change! It’s not about being perfect, it’s about making conscious choices that feel good for us, our skin, and the planet we call home. Let’s get curious, get informed, and get talking about the beauty that lies beyond the hype. It’s time for a change, and it starts with us. 

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

Conversations with Jessica Kleczka on Hope, Healing and Her Journey to Sustainable Activism

Conversations with Jessica Kleczka on Hope, Healing and Her Journey to Sustainable Activism

Imagine a life dedicated to both environmental activism and personal growth. This is the world of Jessica Kleczka, a climate psychologist, activist, and communicator who believes in the power of collective action while navigating the complexities of individual well-being in the face of the climate crisis. Jessica’s journey, from her early connection with nature in a bustling city with limited green spaces to her current work as a climate communicator and climate activist, is a testament to the multifaceted ways we can engage with environmental issues.

Driven by a passion for both environmental justice and mental health, Jessica has carved a unique path in the field of climate activism. Her work delves into the intersection of psychology and environmentalism, exploring how our environment shapes our mental well-being and vice versa. In this insightful interview, she sheds light on the challenges and opportunities of communicating climate issues effectively, emphasizing the importance of fostering hope and agency amidst the complexities of the crisis. Jessica also shares her personal experiences with burnout and her ongoing commitment to sustainable living, offering practical tips, and strategies by embracing imperfect environmentalism for individuals seeking to make a positive impact.

Photo of Jessica Kleczka standing in the sunlight

Join us as we delve into Jessica’s unique perspective and discover how you too can contribute to a more sustainable future. As Jessica aptly reminds us, “We need millions of imperfect environmentalists rather than a handful of perfect ones.”

To start, could you share a bit about your journey – what moment sparked your personal passion for climate activism or environmentalism?

Growing up, I wasn’t really aware of the climate crisis – my parents were Polish immigrants in Germany and we lived in a tower block at the edge of a very polluted city. I did however have an intimate connection with the natural world – although my area was quite deprived, our housing estate was surrounded by wetlands, and I spent many happy hours playing outside with my friends. I used to collect many nature memorabilia – differently sized cones, shells, pressed leaves, and the like. And whenever we returned to Poland, we would spend weeks at a time in a cabin in the woods, foraging buckets of mushrooms and blueberries.

In my early teens, the wetlands around our home started to be drained and developed into housing for the growing working population – I lost what little access to nature I had, and I believe that this contributed to the many mental health struggles I experienced as a teenager. Most of my youth was too turbulent to even think about bigger issues like climate change – that started when I moved to London to go to university. I felt a lot of anger about the state of the world back then. I had gone vegan in my early twenties, mostly for health reasons, but it sent me on a path to caring about the bigger picture too. In 2019, I joined my local climate group and became a full-time campaigner alongside my university degree. It was a wild time!

Your work sits at the intersection of psychology and environmentalism. How do you see these two realms influencing each other, and what led you to bridge these disciplines?

Our mental health has everything to do with our environment, and vice versa. The state of our environment has a lot to do with how we function psychologically.

I originally planned to become a clinical psychologist after my degree, but decided against it when I learned how mental health care functions in our society. We’re quick to point to faults within the individual or their relationships with loved ones, but often neglect what’s around them. Do they live in a polluted neighbourhood? Is their housing situation secure? Can they buy fresh healthy produce? Do they have access to green spaces nearby? All of those things significantly impact our mental wellbeing, but are often forgotten about in mental health practice. As someone who grew up working class and lives with a disability, I’m particularly passionate about access to nature and how marginalised communities in particular often don’t have green spaces near them. 

Photo of Jessica Kleczka sitting and meditating in front of a river
Photo by Johanna Makowski

There is also growing awareness that our disconnect from the natural world – starting with the early industrial period – is a major contributor to the environmental crises we’re dealing with now. Add to the mix that we haven’t evolved to sense excess carbon dioxide, and therefore don’t intuitively perceive it as a threat, and you’ve got yourself an issue that feels psychologically distant to many of us. Of course, many people are now waking up to the reality of the climate crisis, as it’s now happening on most people’s doorsteps – wherever you are in the world.

But the simple reason I’m doing the work I do today is because I didn’t want my job to compromise my advocacy work – I had to connect them somehow. After finishing my Psychology degree, I did another degree in climate change, and through a lot of introspection, I arrived at climate psychology and communication science. I owe a lot to my supervisors at university who gave me a lot of freedom to explore different aspects of these issues, and I absolutely love the work I get to do now.

One of your key areas is helping individuals overcome climate anxiety. How do you approach this challenge, and what advice do you have for those grappling with the emotional toll of the climate crisis?

Photo of Jessica Kleczka standing holding a leaf on her face
Photo by Angharad Bache

The most important thing to know is that if you experience climate anxiety, there is nothing wrong with you. Psychologists don’t see climate anxiety as a mental illness – it’s a normal and even healthy response to the unhealthy state of our world and the ecosystems we so fundamentally rely on. But there is some alarming data – one study by the University of Bath found that almost half of young people feel that the climate crisis is affecting their everyday life and functioning. And once an issue starts affecting us on that level, there is a risk of it developing into a serious mental health issue.

I’m not a mental health professional myself as I went down the research route, so my work has been focusing on finding out more about how young people are affected by the climate crisis. I published a paper with Imperial College looking at young people’s experiences of climate anxiety around the world, and last year I worked on research examining climate anxiety and understanding in early childhood. There is still some work to be done to understand how we can best support young people, but one thing is clear – a lot of our anxiety is caused by government inaction rather than personal failure, and so climate action is the best way we can stem suffering caused by climate anxiety.

Photo of Jessica Kleczka standing on the road campaigning for climate action
Photo by Andrea Domeniconi

A lot of this is also connected to how we communicate – we see a lot of doom and gloom in the media, and while we are in a dire situation, this kind of messaging will leave people desensitised over time, or lead to news avoidance altogether. It’s crucial that we find a balance between conveying the urgency of the situation, whilst communicating reasons to have hope and actions people can take in their own lives and communities.

Effective communication is a crucial aspect of your work. How can we employ more creative and impactful ways to communicate climate issues, especially to diverse audiences?

Early in my career when I worked in climate policy, our team used to create a daily climate news roundup with the headlines and team-specific topics like nature, waste or energy. What I realised during this time was that there is a lot of good stuff happening, but we rarely see it in main news outlets. The reason for this is that often small steps are not sensational enough, although over time, they help build momentum and the foundations for wider system-level change. But our brains have also evolved to pay more attention to negative information as a survival mechanism – media outlets know this and relentlessly exploit this information for clicks. But ultimately, while fear-based messaging gets our attention, sustained negative messaging on climate change will make most people feel overwhelmed and powerless. This is why I started the “Positive Climate News” series on Instagram in collaboration with Earthly Education, reporting on all those small wins we often never hear about. The series has reached millions of people around the world and inspired thousands to take action or keep going.

Last year, I was the Director of Research on “A New Era In Climate Communication” – a huge resource that is now freely available online. It reinforced what I already believed to be true – that hope is a crucial factor in inspiring action. But it also hugely depends on the audience. If someone doesn’t know a huge amount about climate change, they probably need to feel a little bit scared before being exposed to solutions-focused narratives – but I believe that the reason we see so much emphasis on hope and solution these days is because climate change has risen to be a top issue of concern around the world in the last five years. Most people are aware of it, and are at least a little bit concerned – so it becomes crucial to communicate that it’s not too late to avert the worst impacts, and that all the solutions we need are already out there – but what we need is action, all the way from the individual to the systemic level.

Your research delves into the mental health impacts of the climate crisis. Could you share some insights from your work, and what coping strategies do you find most effective?

Mental health is a big topic in the climate community. Every day we’re dealing with something that’s, frankly, quite depressing – but it’s also an incredibly exciting time to be alive. 

Activist burnout is one of the biggest risks I encounter – I experienced it myself several times, and every time I had to take a big step back and allow myself to heal. Many of us are so passionate about our planet and its people that we take on way too much, and forget to look after ourselves in the process. Part of my work consists of training activists in how to recognise symptoms of burnout and take steps to ensure we stay healthy while fighting for a better future.

Some of the things I do in my life to avoid burnout are – spending at least an hour a day in nature with no distractions, setting firm work boundaries, and balancing the kind of work I do to ensure it feels meaningful and fulfilling. A big part of overcoming burnout was also to reconnect with the things that bring me joy and make time for them! Every morning after I wake up, I keep my phone switched off for a bit while I read a book and witness the world around me.

What role do you think climate storytelling can play in amplifying the voices and experiences of those most impacted by the crisis?

Stories are one of the fundamental ways humans have learned to connect and share information. Studies show that our brains retain a lot more information if it is presented in a story format, and they’re also an excellent way of communicating radical ideas whilst circumnavigating political polarisation. After my work as a climate communications researcher, I decided to take a step back from academia – both to recover from burn-out and put my learnings into practice. So this year I’m focusing primarily on my campaigning and creative work, utilising storytelling techniques to engage more people with environmental issues and getting them involved in building a better future.

At the moment, my partner and I are working on “Road to the Future” – a project documenting sustainable projects around Europe as a way to give back to the communities we visit in our home on wheels. The series will be hosted on @earthly.explore on Instagram and cover Spain, France, and the UK to start – if all goes well, we will continue in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe later this year! The vision behind this project is to spotlight environmental issues around the continent and what everyday people are doing to fix them, to inspire the next generation of change-makers. Climate action can look like many different things, so we want to show people practical things they can get involved in.

Empowering individuals is a key aspect of your advocacy. What, in your view, are some impactful yet practical steps that individuals can take in their daily lives to contribute to a more sustainable future?

Activism will always be the most impactful thing to do, because policy change comes with ripple effects that make living sustainably the default, or at least easier, for many. But I also recognise that activism is not for everyone. Personally, I’m also very passionate about sustainable living – it’s quite an exciting challenge to live with as little of a footprint as possible while still living your best life! I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for the last eight years, buying seasonal produce in whatever country I’m in, avoiding flying wherever possible, and taking the train when travelling between European countries. I live in a tiny space with my partner, we don’t buy anything new and are very mindful about driving. But I’ve also gone through periods of time when I was working a lot and had to prioritise campaigning over buying plastic-free all the time, for example. Sustainable living is tied to time privilege – and yes, it’s sometimes also more expensive. So if you find yourself struggling to be the perfect environmentalist in your own home, channel that energy into wider-scale systemic change instead!

Photo of Jessica Kleczka standing in the garden foraging vegetables and fruits

Another thing I often say is that the most powerful thing we can do is to talk about climate. There’s still a phenomenon in our society called “climate silence” – because climate change has been politicised so much, many people feel awkward just talking about it. We need to normalise climate conversations as well as our difficult emotions the issue can evoke in us. And by sharing about the small things we do in our own lives to make a difference, we can normalise activism and dismantle the stigma that media narratives have woven to discredit our movement.

This one is our personal favorite – What inspired your decision to transition to a van life, and how do you envision incorporating sustainable practices into your mobile lifestyle?

My partner and I are both minimalists, and van life was a natural progression in our journey towards living a simple and sustainable lifestyle. I used to be a hoarder and really struggled to declutter my belongings at first – it took me about a year to get to the point where we could fit everything in the van, and we’re still selling and giving away some of our things here and there! But the process of emotionally detaching myself from my stuff was very liberating.

Part of my motivation was also the fact that I couldn’t work full time due to health reasons – I wanted a lifestyle that allowed a lot of freedom while working less and being close to nature. We lived in a small apartment for a year, working multiple jobs to save up for our tiny home on wheels – and we’re so grateful that we’ve made it a reality!

There are a lot of ways we live more sustainably on the road – the main aspect is that we’re not heating an apartment anymore! We did some maths and were surprised to learn that the driving we’re planning to do over the course of the year emits about a third less than heating the average home in the UK. Overall, our lifestyle emits roughly half of the average UK footprint. I’m not a big fan of how much we focus on individual carbon footprints nowadays, especially given that the concept was popularised by a fossil fuel company, but we’re both passionate about living small so it can be a useful metric.

Our plan is to spend the winters in southern Europe so we don’t need to heat our van, and summers in northern Europe. This also allows us to have plenty of electricity from our solar panel, which means we can cook without using gas. We try to limit our driving to one or trips a week, which we usually do for grocery shopping or changing our location. We have a 96-litre water tank which we fill up once a week – in comparison, that’s less than what the average person in the UK uses in a day. While we have a shower in the van we also sometimes wash in the sea or a river instead to conserve water. We have a compost toilet, only use natural products for cleaning and self-care, and we hold onto our trash, which we separate and recycle whenever we do a town run. We also buy package-free, organic, local, and seasonal produce as much as we can, which we’ve found to be a lot easier in Europe. Van life definitely comes with its own challenges, but it teaches you to be appreciative of resources – and waking up surrounded by nature most days is everything I ever wanted and more.

What advice would you give to individuals who want to make a positive impact but are unsure of where to start?

Start as small or big as you want! I’ve met a lot of people who found it easier to explore sustainable behaviour change first, making changes in their own lives, and then went on to become campaigners. But others will find it harder to change things in their own lives but prefer to advocate for policy changes. Some people do both. Some people prefer to go into a climate job and set firm boundaries between work and private life. I love the notion that we need millions of imperfect environmentalists rather than a handful of perfect ones – so I tend to encourage people to engage in whatever way is accessible to them, and not worry about the image they have in their head of what an activist, advocate or change maker should look like. I firmly believe that perfectionism is one of the biggest threats to our movement – we’re all fallible humans and doing the best we can. And so we should celebrate every little action that people do – be that a litter pick on the weekend, joining a protest, or introducing more plant-based foods into your diet.

How do you envision your future?

For a long time, I was really career-focused – until I was lucky enough to get into my dream career, and realised it wasn’t what made me truly happy. I feel incredibly privileged to have come to this realisation, but it also means that my life is going through some big changes right now. For the next few years, I want to travel, meet like-minded people who are working to change the world, read lots of good books, and go on long hikes. I want to live life to the fullest while causing the least amount of harm possible. And who knows, maybe the next step is to move on a sailboat, or buy a small cottage in the mountains…

What do you do for fun? Any hobbies or passions?

Living in a van means that a lot of my hobbies are quite outdoorsy and related to my love for nature. My days usually start with reading a book, back doors open looking out on the sea, a forest, or the mountains. I enjoy walking and running as I often find myself in different landscapes, and when we’re near the sea my partner and I do quite a bit of paddleboarding and freediving together. I’ve been playing music since I was a child, and my partner and I are planning to learn sword fighting, which will probably be our most unusual hobby!

What’s your mantra for life?

Change the things you can do something about, and make peace with things beyond your control! 

Click to learn more about Jessica Kleczka and follow her journey.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Runway Radiance: EFWA Conversation with Talisha Lee

Runway Radiance: EFWA Conversation with Talisha Lee

In the dynamic realm of sustainable fashion, Talisha Lee emerges as a vibrant thread intricately woven into the narrative of Eco-Fashion Week Australia (EFWA). Her journey, from a transformative experience at an early age to becoming the Face of EFWA Closet of the Anthropocene in 2024, reflects not just a runway showcase but a profound exploration of the impact of fast fashion on the environment. Talisha‘s story embodies personal evolution and a commitment to amplify voices often unheard, making her an ambassador for diversity, equity, and sustainability.

Beyond the glamour, Talisha’s perspective as a medical student adds depth to her understanding of the connection between sustainable fashion and personal well-being. For her, it’s more than a runway; it’s a belief that what we wear should echo the commitment to natural, organic choices in life. Talisha’s artistic flair extends beyond modeling, with her passion for singing and acting enriching her expression on the runway. Balancing a medical career with modeling, she envisions a future where both seamlessly coexist, contributing to a vibrant and sustainable world.

Designer: Skylark, Photographer: Zuhal Kuvan-Mills

Hi Talisha! You’ve been a part of Eco-Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) since its inception. Could you share your journey with us? How has the EFWA experience influenced your perspective on fashion and sustainability?

My first experience with EFWA was when I was 13 years old, and it was the first large-scale fashion/modelling show that I had ever participated in. I had the lucky opportunity to meet a multitude of different people from different countries and backgrounds and witness their own unique styles of creating sustainable fashion. From designs made of coffee bags and coffee pods, to Merino and alpaca wool, all the way through to up-cycling and redesigning op shop finds. It also opened my eyes to how much of our current fashion consumption is considered fast fashion, and just how damaging this is for the environment. Prior to my experience with EFWA I felt as if I was oblivious to the impacts of fast fashion on our environment, and to what fast fashion actually looked like in our everyday lives.

Being the Face of EFWA Closet of the Anthropocene for EFWA 2024 is an incredible achievement. Can you tell us more about this role and what it means to you?

To me being the face of the EFWA closet of the Anthropocene means not only advocating for sustainable fashion and minimising the impacts of fast fashion, but it also means giving a voice to smaller groups and communities that are often not seen and heard in the media. It means encouraging diversity and giving a voice to those who often do not have one, so that all Australians are given equal opportunity to share their story. It is up to us to use the platform that we have been given to advocate for diversity, equity, and sustainability. Having been a part of EFWA since its inception, I have been able to see the effort that this incredible team has put in to ensure diversity and equity for all of our models, designers, and community members, and I feel as if I have a responsibility to keep promoting these same values.

As a medical student, you have a unique perspective on health and sustainability. How do you see the connection between sustainable fashion and personal well-being?


To me, sustainable fashion is a much more viable alternative to fast fashion, not only for the environment but for us. We know that natural products are always better for an individual’s health, whether that’s organic foods to organic products, what we consume should be no different from the clothes that we put on our bodies.

You’re not only a model but also have a passion for singing and acting. How do these different forms of creative expression complement your modelling career?


Not only did singing and acting improve my confidence and stage presence, but it also gave me the skills required for modelling. A lot of people don’t realise that modelling is an art form, there are so many different styles of modelling and how we choose to compose ourselves on the runway is a form of individual expression. Acting and singing allowed me to explore my own unique style, from body language to facial expression, to perfect my modelling capabilities.

Eco Fashion and traditional fashion can differ in many ways. What do you find most distinctive about modelling for sustainable fashion as opposed to conventional fashion?


With sustainable fashion, you truly uncover the story behind the clothes. You get to listen to designers tell you every single step that they took to create the final piece that you’re wearing. From how they decided which materials to use, to how those materials were sourced and by whom, through to the designing and creating process. You get to listen to designers point out unique spots on their clothes that might have been a mistake when they were sewing or crocheting, and you really get to see the clothes come to life. With traditional fashion, on the other hand, you don’t get the same intimate story. You get to listen to the designing process, then the clothes are often shipped off to a foreign manufacturer before being shipped back for you to wear down the runway.

EFWA is often described as a close-knit community, like a family. How has this sense of belonging impacted your journey as a model?


With EFWA it really made a difference to me starting out my modelling career as a part of this family, because it made the modelling world so much less daunting to me. It showed that there were genuine people out there who would be willing to support me and treat me as their own. I feel like in everyday media and even just as a teenager looking online, we always get told that the fashion industry is one of the most cutthroat and exclusive industries, with everyone being pitted against each other. Being a part of the eco-fashion team, you get to see that that is far from the truth, you get to see everyone treating each other as family, whilst still giving each other the opportunity to shine as an individual.

In your opinion, what kind of impact does EFWA have on the fashion industry and the wider community?


EFWA has opened the door for communication and raised awareness regarding the impacts of fast fashion and how much of the fashion industry participates in fast fashion. It has given a platform to individual community members to raise awareness about sustainable fashion and showcased various different projects in support of our cause.

Balancing a career in the medical field and modelling is no small feat. How do you plan to pursue both these passions simultaneously?


Having studied in such a competitive and intense field, I feel like I’ve developed skills to find a balance between my career endeavours and my passion for modelling, and so I do intend to continue working on both. Modelling to me is a fun environment that allows me to escape from the pressure of studying, and I truly believe it will play a pivotal role in my life as I continue with my career.

Designer: Skylark, Photographer: Zuhal Kuvan-Mills

The fashion industry plays a significant role in environmental issues. Do you believe models can be influential voices in raising awareness about sustainable fashion and addressing climate change?


100% yes. As models, we are the face of the clothes that we wear so we have a voice, and we have the ability to make an impact. If we keep raising our concerns and keep raising awareness then as models, and even as everyday individuals, we are able to make a change.

What advice do you have for newcomers entering the world of modelling, especially those who are interested in promoting sustainability?


My advice is to be confident in yourself and know that you are worthy of achieving everything that you set out to do and so much more. The industry can be quite harsh, and as much as we are working to change that, and I do believe change and progress are being made, you must be confident in yourself and believe that you will get where you want to be. Regarding promoting sustainability, that is such an important message to be sending out, and just continuously promoting that and believing and fighting for your cause will get you very far.

Fun question: If you could choose one eco-friendly fashion item to wear for the rest of your life, what would it be?


It would definitely be recycled coffee pod earrings. I feel like they’re so unique and comfortable and they can match with absolutely anything.

Click to find out more about Talisha Lee 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.

Eco Fashion Week Kenya – A Symphony of Fashion, Sustainability, and Transformation

Eco Fashion Week Kenya – A Symphony of Fashion, Sustainability, and Transformation

In the vibrant heart of Kenyan ingenuity, a groundbreaking event is set to unfold, promising a week that transcends the ordinary realms of fashion. Welcome to Eco Fashion Week Kenya, a transformative experience conceived by the visionary Belinda Smetana, founder of Sustainable Fashion and Travel. This event, in collaboration with Cleanup Kenya, is not just about runway glamour; it’s a holistic celebration of sustainability, inclusivity, and a profound commitment to healing our planet.

A Visionary’s Dream

Belinda Smetana, the luminary behind Sustainable Fashion and Travel, envisions more than a fashion week; she dreams of a collective journey toward conscious living. Her brainchild, Eco Fashion Week Kenya, is a testament to her commitment to creating a transformative experience that leaves an indelible mark on Kenya’s fashion landscape.

As Belinda puts it, “Our vision is to be the first-ever Fashion Week in the world that focuses more on cleaning up textile waste by creating inclusive intergenerational activities that every human who wears clothes can relate to.”

Inclusivity Beyond Glamour

In a world where inclusivity often stops at diverse models on the runway, Eco Fashion Week Kenya takes a giant leap forward. For them, inclusivity extends beyond the glamour, encompassing intergenerational activities that involve everyone who wears clothes. This commitment to inclusivity goes hand in hand with their core belief that sustainable fashion should be for everyone, breaking traditional beauty standards both on and off the runway.

Belinda emphasizes, “We are not just working with fashion brands; we are including other industry leaders contributing to a better environment. Our transformative experience aims to inspire positive change, making sustainable fashion accessible to all.”

The Artisanal Prelude

The journey begins at The Artisanal Gallery, Nairobi, with a press briefing and networking day. The venue, known for its unique concept store, sets the stage for what promises to be a fashion week like no other. The welcome drink from official wine sponsors Le Decanter and gifts by JUA add a touch of celebration and community spirit to the event.

As we step into this artistic space, Belinda’s words resonate, “We want to create a Fashion Week where the power of fashion is harnessed to leave a positive imprint on our society and the planet.”

Photo of The Artisanal Gallery, Nairobi
The Artisanal Gallery, Nairobi

A Tapestry of Experiences

The week unfolds with diverse activities, each day bringing a new facet of sustainable fashion to the forefront. From eco-fashion workshops and the selection of winning pieces to mending, repair, and swap workshops, the event is a rich tapestry of experiences. The emphasis on education through seminars and discussions underlines a commitment to not just showcasing fashion but fostering a deeper understanding of sustainable living.

Julie Adhiambo, Founder and CEO of Duara Textiles, who is one of the featured designers of the Eco Fashion Week Kenya, adds her perspective, “Embracing Circular fashion systems including recycling and upcycling is crucial. Brands should embrace slow fashion, make quality apparel that will last for generations, and use sustainable and degradable materials.”

Photo of Julie Adhiambo, Founder and CEO of Duara Textiles, Kenya
Julie Adhiambo, Founder and CEO of Duara Textiles

JUST FASHION DAY – Challenging Norms

One of the highlights is the “JUST Fashion Day,” a challenge presented by the JUST Fashion team through the Eyes of the Artisanal Gallery, AfroWema, and Seeds & Stories. Delight Fashion and Design School students are tasked with creating one piece each with the theme “No New Clothes.” This bold initiative aims to combat textile waste by using existing clothes that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Belinda expresses her confidence, “We are challenging designers, especially the students, to make a difference. The winning piece will be showcased and auctioned, supporting upcoming designers. It’s about avoiding waste and overproduction, aligning with our commitment to a sustainable fashion future.”

This addition emphasizes the pivotal role of student designers, making their contributions integral to the ethos of Eco Fashion Week Kenya.

An Evening of High Fashion and Responsibility

As the week progresses, the event moves to Lions Eco Resort & Spa for a night fashion show. Designers will showcase collections made from used materials, emphasizing the theme of “No New Clothes.” The emphasis on not purchasing new clothes for the event aligns with the ethos of discouraging overconsumption.

The week culminates in a beach cleanup day in Malindi, symbolizing the event’s commitment to actively contribute to environmental well-being.

A Collective Effort – Partnerships and Venues

Eco Fashion Week Kenya is not a solitary endeavor. It’s a collaborative effort with Cleanup Kenya, Delight Tailoring Fashion & Design School, Fashion Takes Action, Trashion Kenya and many more. The choice of venues, from The Artisanal Gallery to Lions Eco Resort & Spa, adds a layer of uniqueness to each event, creating an immersive experience for participants.

As Belinda emphasizes, “We are uniting Style, Sustainability, and inclusivity while disrupting the ‘Normal’ Fashion Week.”

The Power of Conscious Fashion Choices

As Julie Adhiambo, Founder and CEO of Duara Textiles, puts it, “Circular economy – reusing, recycling, and creating new materials and products from already existing materials hence reducing waste.” Julie’s dedication to sustainable materials and practices echoes the broader message of Eco Fashion Week Kenya.

In a world inundated with fast fashion, Eco Fashion Week Kenya emerges as a beacon of conscious choices, a celebration of slow fashion that values quality over quantity. It’s a movement that goes beyond trends, embracing the well-being of the planet and its people above all else.

Looking to the Future

As we step into the future of sustainable fashion, events like Eco Fashion Week Kenya play a pivotal role. The rising consciousness on the importance of sustainability and environmental responsibility is turning it into a norm rather than an exception. More brands are adopting circular fashion systems, becoming accountable and transparent in their product cycles.

Belinda envisions, “It will become the norm rather than the exception. More people will start embracing unique handcrafted artisanal products that are of high-quality finish.”

Embrace the Change

Eco Fashion Week Kenya is more than a fashion week; it’s a call to action. It challenges norms, encourages dialogue, and actively engages individuals in the journey toward sustainable living. Belinda Smetana’s vision extends beyond the glamour of the runway, aiming to weave a sustainable future, one thoughtful choice at a time.

As the fashion world gears up for this groundbreaking event, it’s not just about style; it’s about shaping a future where fashion and responsibility go hand in hand. So, mark your calendars for a week that promises not just runway spectacles but a transformative experience that resonates with the rhythm of a planet in need of healing.

Join the movement, embrace sustainability, and be a part of Eco Fashion Week Kenya – where fashion meets responsibility, and every choice makes a difference.

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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