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March 22, 2020
While COVID-19 has changed life as we know it, the story isn’t all doom and gloom. Indeed, there has been an outcry of kindness and support from the public. As we’ve seen before, in times of crisis, people tend to come together in unification and solidarity, and the same rings true for the current pandemic the world is now facing.
There’s also a lot to learn from the COVID-19 outbreak, including the role social media plays in connecting us during times of hardship as well as the environmental impact of the pandemic.
Today, we’re exploring COVID-19 in detail to understand exactly what we can take away from this unprecedented crisis.
Social Isolation and Social Media: A Paradox
Social media has, once again, influenced the conversation surrounding COVID-19. And, maybe for the better. An initiative taken by the World Health Organization (WHO) saw social media being used to promote ‘The Safe Hands Challenge.’
Taken up by celebrities and the public alike, the challenge has gone viral and could be said to play a positive role in spreading awareness. By creating engaging content that is both educational and shareable, WHO’s action speaks to the times we now live in and the globalized conversation that we’re all a part of.
As Forbes explains, “The Safe Hands Challenge, for instance, has been used as a TikTok hashtag nearly a half billion times in 48 hours. The WHO posted its first video to TikTok 16 days ago and has since added nine more. They’ve been viewed an average of 10.3 million times. For perspective, Loren Gray, the influencer with the largest following on the platform, has averaged only 4.4 million views in her last 10.”
Interestingly, many individuals and now entire cities are being asked to stay at home through a process of self-isolation. And yet, thanks to social media, we’re more connected than ever which seems to have helped in allowing people to come together.
Kind Efforts, Big and Small
On a positive note, COVID-19 has seen an outpour of kind efforts and actions. Many people have offered to help vulnerable groups such as the elderly in tending to their everyday needs, such as grocery shopping.
These kind efforts are being enacted on a small and large scale. For example, many leading supermarket chains recently announced special opening hours for the elderly.
As the ABC explains, “Both shops are opening exclusively between 7:00am and 8:00am to give those groups a chance to do their shopping before the rush begins.”
“Woolworths says shoppers will be allowed in if they can show a relevant government-issued seniors, pensioner or disability card. Coles is also hiring more than 5,000 casual staff to help deal with demand.”
“The moves come after scenes of panic-buying, clashes between shoppers and scuffles over toilet paper, as Australians look to stock up on products as a result of the fear of shortages, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Could There Be A Positive Environmental Impact?
With the world effectively being put on hold, cities on lockdown, air travel significantly reduced and thousands in self-isolation, the environment may be the only beneficiary from COVID-19.
As The Guardian explains, “In China...the actions taken by authorities have inadvertently demonstrated that hefty 25% carbon dioxide cuts can bring less traffic and cleaner air with only a small reduction in economic growth…”
With COVID-19 forcing individual and systemic changes to be enacted immediately, the impact these changes are having on the environment is worthy of consideration. From the Geneva Motor Show to CeraWeek and the Formula One grand prix, thousands of travelers have cancelled their plans, saving tones of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Looking to The Future
A crisis as global and far-reaching as COVID-19 will be one to consider, reflect on and learn from for years to come. However, with the present knowledge that we have of the virus, and our current understanding of its general impact on the world, there are takeaways.
As The Guardian effectively concludes, “If this trend continues, analysts say it is possible this will lead to the first fall in global emissions since the 2008-09 financial crisis. Even a slowdown in CO2 could buy time for climate action and, more importantly, inspire long-term behavioral changes – particularly in travel.”
Will COVID-19 change the way we behave as a collective humanity, altering mainstream behaviors in areas such as travel and health care, or will we return to what we know best?
As this remains an ever-evolving and ever-changing story, the answer is yet to be determined. However, it’s sure to be a question we return to.
By: Sophia Llewellyn
March 18, 2020
In the same way animals head into hibernation during the winter, the world is doing the same. Only we’re not quite as accustomed to this intense period of isolation, and consequently, many may find it tough to cope.
Social connections and activities are fundamental to our wellbeing and yet, we’re currently unable to organize or attend them. Whilst each country has put different measures in place, such as placing a ban on the attendance of events, our social lives have effectively been stunted.
In considering these changes and in recognizing our well-being is intrinsically linked to social interactions, it begs the question, what can we do to cope?
Thanks to recent research and a growing awareness for the importance of mental health, there’s a whole lot of information to help us answer that question.
Today, we’re exploring some of the ways you can maintain good mental health during social isolation, all while staying in the confines of your home.
Not only will this help to release your thoughts, it could also serve as an interesting record of a time unlike any other.
Plus, there’s a whole lot of research to show why keeping a diary is great for your mental health.
This task allows you to get creative and embrace your sustainable side. If you’re longing for some parsley, order seeds from your local nursery and have them delivered. Many companies are offering free delivery due to the situation so we’re sure you’ll find someone delivering (or at least we can hope).
Then, choose a suitable pot or container to grow your seedlings. You can use many sustainable alternatives to plastic pots such as toilet rolls, beer cans and empty food containers. The world is your oyster. Simply plant your babies, offer them some sunshine and let the good times roll in.
While it’s absolutely not the same as gardening in the fresh open air outdoors, it’s a sure way to release some stress and allow for some green therapy. Plus, it’s a project which means you’ll be invested in the outcome from start to finish.
It’s worthwhile considering what other projects you can take up. This is a time for indoor productivity so have a look around to see what interests you and where you can find an alternative source of stimulation.
Start with a solid workout in the morning - 10 minutes will do if it’s high intensity exercise. Then, have a nutritious breakfast and get to work as you would if you just arrived in your office.
Plan a set time for lunch as well as when you’ll finish work and follow the same structured approach for the rest of your day.
What’s most important here is setting up a space that’s away from your ‘chill-out’ zone so that work is separate to pleasure and enjoyment. And remember, this is temporary.
So, you can’t exactly throw a party and celebrate the good times with hundreds of people. But, you can take advantage of the connected world that you’re a part of and phone a friend.
You’ll be surprised at the uplifting and positive effect of phoning a friend, even if just for 30 minutes.
Alternatively, if you’re longing for some facial expressions, you can organise a shared Skype call with some of your pals to touch base in a safe and secure way. Get inventive and keep creative! There are many ways to stay connected in the age of social media.
While life as we know it has changed, it’s not forever. Yes, we’re not sure how long these new regulations and restrictions will last. However, it’s important we remain as level-headed as possible and try implementing strategies to keep up good mental health.
Times are tough, but we can also see this as an opportunity to optimize our interior settings, learn new insights about the way we run business and reflect on what matters most in situations of crisis.
If you’re looking to learn more about what you can do to stay on top of your mental health, or you’d like more ideas of how to tend to your wellbeing, it’s a great idea to look to the experts for advice.
While the recommendations we have offered are helpful, they should not be treated as medical advice. Always speak to your trusted doctor or medical profession if you’d like professional advice!
By: Sophia Llewellyn
February 04, 2020
The choices consumers make every day have a significant impact on the environment. Choosing sustainable products encourages systematic changes to follow suit. From leading fashion brands to supermarkets, restaurants and governments, serious power lies in the decision-making and choices made at a systemic level.
Setting New Standards
One example of how this power can be used for good was highlighted this week. Copenhagen Fashion Week’s Chief Executive, Cecile Thorsmark, announced new sustainable standards that brands will now be required to meet if they wish to participate. What’s more, Thorsmark hopes the fashion week will become a leading platform for activism while promoting positive environmental change.
As the Guardian explains, “As part of the shift, Copenhagen fashion week is launching a sustainability action plan that will require brands to meet a range of targets or face exclusion from the official show schedule.”
“Brands will have three years to meet the 17 sustainability standards, which include bringing in zero-waste set designs for their shows, pledging not to destroy unsold clothes and using at least 50% organic or recycled textiles in their collections.”
The Fashion Industry as a Global Actor
Since Thorsmark’s appointment in 2018, the Chief Executive has made some swift and significant changes to promote and encourage an environmentally-friendly culture.
For instance, in a 2019 press release, Copenhagen Fashion Week banned single-use plastic bottles. The press release stated, “Copenhagen Fashion Week is an event of considerable size and impact, which is why we strive to reduce our footprint on our city - and our planet - through positive change.”
“Acknowledging our role and privilege as a global actor in the fashion industry, we furthermore see it as our moral obligation to inspire everyone around us, including other fashion weeks, consumers and the industry as a whole.”
What’s great to see is a festival recognizing its role as a global body with the ability to influence, change and ultimately help the climatic crisis that the world now faces.
When it comes to disproving the detrimental effects our actions are having on the environment, climate denialists are scrambling for legs to stand on. Simply consider the Australian bushfires and it becomes clear that changes must be made on both an individual and systemic level if we wish to ‘win’ the fight against climate change. It’s important to recognize that the word win here is a precarious one. Why? Because the environmental degradation that has been caused as a result of the planet’s warming may have irreversible consequences.
However, the sustainable stance Copenhagen’s Fashion Week has taken and continues to promote is an example of what is possible. Thorsmark isn’t the only one embracing more sustainable ethos in the world of fashion. Both New York and Stockholm have also made positive changes.
As the Guardian states, “The Swedish Fashion Council cancelled Stockholm fashion week altogether in July, hoping to find a more sustainable alternative. At New York fashion week, the industry’s first carbon-neutral fashion show took place, courtesy of the luxury designer Gabriela Hearst.”
In recognizing the international actions being made by powerful countries such as Stockholm, New York and Copenhagen, it’s clear that the entire fashion industry is rethinking their very core. Consumers have never been more aware of the negative impact that fashion has on both people and the planet. Consequently, there’s also never been more pressure, and rightly so, to employ more sustainable standards.
If systemic changes can be made and industry practices tread lightly on the earth, powerful and collective positive action can be effectively enacted and realized. From fashion week to supermarket chains, each plays a part in supporting a circular economy that prioritizes and celebrates sustainability.
What’s more, if we begin to rethink our attitude to sustainability in the same way that Thorsmark has, we can recognize what an opportunity (rather than a burden) it presents for development, innovation and long-term growth.
Whether you’re looking to learn more about what you can do to embrace sustainability in your everyday, or you’d like some insight on the topic, we’re here to help. No matter what your question or query, our friendly, responsive and knowledgeable team will be sure to provide you with the answer you’re looking for.
We look forward to hearing from you and wish you all the best on your sustainability journey!
By: Sophia Llewellyn
January 24, 2020
The devastating bushfires that have blazed across Australia over the last few months seem to have finally come to an end. This has left the world in a state of severe shock and contemplation over the consequences that we’re now forced to face. With 1 billion animals killed, 1400 homes destroyed, 14.6 million acres burnt down - an area greater than Switzerland - as well as 24 people killed, it’s undoubtedly one of the most disastrous wildfires that mankind has ever faced.
Whilst Australians and a great number of rescue organizations will be forced to deal with the consequences for years to come, there are a number of fundamental lessons that we can all learn from such devastation.
We’re turning to the experts as well as other experts to help us draw important conclusions about the Australian Bushfires, what we can do and what these fires say about the world’s future.
A Land Mad for Natural Fires
Like California, Australia is naturally primed for bushfires and Australians have long used fire as a land management tool. Thus, bushfires are an intrinsic part of the Australian environment.
However, as a result of global warming, Australia has been experiencing one of the warmest summers recorded, with Australia hitting a record high of 49.5 degrees Celsius. This followed the driest spring in Australian history.
As a New York Times article explains, ‘“The question that we need to ask is, ‘How much worse are we willing to let this get?” said an Australian National University climate scientist, Nerilie Abram.” Further, ““If this is what global warming of just over 1 degree Celsius looks like, Ms. Abram says, do we really want to see the impacts of 3 degrees or more? Because that is the trajectory we are on,’” (2020).
This Is A Global Problem
Australia is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to the effects of global warming, with temperatures predicted to rise at least another 0.5 degrees Celsius. However, fires alone pose a problem far greater than solely those of environmental health and emissions in Australia.
As the Sydney Morning Herald article explains, ‘“Prime Minister Morrison is right about one thing — the only solution is global action,” writes Ross Gittins, the economics editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. “While Mr. Morrison certainly deserves blame, nothing Australia could have done by itself would have prevented the current devastation, since the country accounts for only 1.3 percent of global emissions,”’ (2020). Furthermore, ‘“All the big, rich economies — particularly the Americans, less so the Europeans — must share the blame for the continuing rise in average temperatures,” he writes,’ (2020).
Finally, the article concludes, ‘“Even the biggest developing economies — China and India, particularly — could have done more to reduce the intensity of their emissions (emissions per dollar of G.D.P.) without abandoning their efforts to raise their living standards,’” (2020).
The Animal Kingdom Has Suffered
Our actions don’t only affect us. Considering 1 billion animals have been lost as a result of the fires, it’s fundamental to recognize the impact we have on the world at large. From animals to plants and the earth itself, climate change affects living beings who never committed to the problem in the first place.
As Vox effectively explains, “Some ecologists, including Beale, say Dickman’s estimates may be inflated. Although it’s plausible many animals have been affected by the fires, the proportion of them that actually died may be smaller. Let’s hope so. The truth is, it’s hard for anyone to know the precise impact of the fires at this stage, not least because many animals that survive the flames will likely die later due to lack of food, water, and shelter. Regardless of the exact numbers, this is a crisis for biodiversity in Australia, which is home to some of Earth’s most distinctive animals, like marsupials. Around 244 species of mammals are found only in Australia” (2020).
What We Can Do Moving Forward
While global disasters can bring the world together in joint efforts as individuals work to help and restore what has been destroyed, we need to be thinking bigger. We need to act and treat our world with the respect it needs, not only when we encounter natural disasters, but in our every day.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of what you’re supporting when you choose a certain brand. Have a look at what material that brand is using, what their policies are and if they support any social causes.
At Slate + Salt, we’re committed to making this world, the fashion industry, and your wardrobe a better and more sustainable place.
It might seem like one purchase, one person or one action won’t make a difference, but that’s exactly the mentality that got us into this mess. Promise yourself, your family, kids or grandkids to honor them by doing one thing every day that makes this world a better place. Because it will be sure to have a positive impact on your own life, others and the planet that we need and rely on so much!
By: Sophia Llwellyn
January 08, 2020
Fair Trade Defined
Who better to define Fair Trade than Fairtrade International? As the name suggests, Fair Trade focuses on supporting the fair treatment and support of producers. When most people think of Fair Trade, they don’t think of accessories and textiles. They think of coffee and chocolate. It’s true that Fair Trade extends to different industries and we love to support producers of food related Fair Trade products such as well.
According to Fairtrade International, “Fairtrade’s approach enables farmers and workers to have more control over their lives and decide how to invest in their future…Fairtrade supports and challenges businesses and governments while connecting farmers and workers with the people who buy their products.”
If you’re a visual learner, have a look at the video below to learn more about Fair Trade and its benefits.
Why Is Fair Trade Important?
With over 1.7 million workers and farmers involved with Fair Trade and its mission, and over 30,000 Fair Trade products offered worldwide, the approach is clearly an effective one being globally supported and actively implemented. With consumers increasingly demanding brands to focus on the ethical and sustainable production of products, Fair Trade is increasing in its popularity.
According to a study exploring how millennials interact with corporate social responsibility, “more than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause” (2015). The trend rings true for consumers of all ages, with customers seeking out responsibly sourced products.
Fair Trade offers a direct response to this demand, providing customers with the ability to buy ethically produced goods. The corporate social responsibility underpinning Fair Trade and its mission as well as the rewarding nature for Fair Trade producers reflect the organization's international importance. Producers reap social, economic and environmental benefits by being Fair Trade certified.
If you watched the aforementioned video, you would know that coffee bushes are volatile and highly sensitive to warming temperatures. With a one-degree rise, the coffee’s quality is undermined. With a two-degree rise, coffee bushes produce less beans due to climatic stress and with a three-degree rise, it’s possible the coffee bushes may die from excessive heat exposure.
This example illustrates the difficult conditions producers are now faced with. Whilst many goods such as coffee and chocolate are produced in developing countries, heavily industrialized countries are the leading contributors to climate change. Unfortunately, despite this reality, its poorer countries relying on the seasons to produce good crops that are the most affected by climate change. Considering farmers are placed under increasing pressure due to irregular seasons and severe droughts, Fair Trade provides a well-needed source of stability in an increasingly unstable and tough market.
Facts and Figures About Fairtrade. Credit: Fairtrade International
As the graph above illustrates, the importance of Fair Trade is illustrated in recognizing the organization assists 1.66 million farmers and workers worldwide. Fair Trade supports equal opportunities for both women and men, especially in largely disadvantaged countries. Furthermore, with €158.3 million in revenue paid to producers, and growing, the economic benefits that Fair Trade provides its producers enable better living standards, increased opportunities and improved wellbeing.
Who Benefits from Fair Trade?
Customers expecting lower prices do so at the expense of producers’ livelihood and wellbeing. As supermarkets continue to offer cheap alternatives to quality products, the overall prices for commonly bought goods such as coffee and chocolate (typical Fair Trade products) are relatively low. However, the costs and manufacturing expenses involved in the production of these goods is expensive, placing an increased burden on the producers. Whilst consumers are increasingly choosing ethical brands which support fair wages and better living standards for farmers and workers, the rise of ‘bargains’, ‘deals’ and ‘specials’ has a direct impact on producers’ livelihood and wellbeing. Cheaper prices mean more stress for workers and less money for the time and resources they put towards producing their product.
Fair Trade recognizes this international issue permeating markets and offers a viable and actionable solution to benefit both the customer and the producer.
The Fair Trade diagram below illustrates the organization’s approach is supportive on both a systemic level and an individual level. From manufacturer to exporter and consumer to producer, Fair Trade’s global strategy effectively acknowledges each party to ensure the system is beneficial for all.
The Fairtrade System. Credit: Fairtrade International
How Fair Trade Offers A Solution to Capitalism and Climate Change
Whilst it may be tempting to consider climate change and capitalism as two separate entities, the opposite is true. As Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ effectively explains, “our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature” (2014).
The economic model the industrialized world has founded itself upon and the climatic events we are now experiencing are intrinsically linked. The unsustainable nature of capitalism, with its focus on the pursuit of profit at the expense of all else and the direct impact this has on the natural world through the form of carbon emissions, chemicals, pollutants and other toxins are chapters from the same book. The environment is communicating to humanity one of the most fundamental messages of our entire existence. The continuation of the current economic system and the health of the planet are incompatible and thus, the choice is clear.
Fair Trade offers a sustainable solution to the far-reaching and global problem. While considering the aforementioned issue, it may seem as though a viable solution to such a catastrophic issue, deeply tied to every element of societal functioning, is near impossible to envision and then achieve.
However, as author Adrienne Maree Brown explores in her book, ‘Pleasure Activism,’ effective changes can only be made once a problem is addressed and then an equally valuable and fitting solution is provided. Change cannot be made if the issue is simply stated without an actionable plan to overcome such. Fair Trade indeed embodies such pleasure activism by recognizing the fundamental issue within the market and providing an approach to ensure customer satisfaction as well as the fair treatment of farmers.
Thus, Fair Trade is an example of a present day solution to the problem of both capitalism and climate change by addressing the three factors of sustainability; economic, social and environmental.
In exploring the definition of Fair Trade as well as its importance and the benefits it offers both customers and producers worldwide, it’s clear supporting Fair Trade products is an endlessly rewarding decision to make.
When we visit a store, the choice between a Fair Trade scarf and a cheap alternative may seem small but the decision influences the lives of workers worldwide.
As a consumer, you have significant buying power. By supporting Fair Trade products exclusively, you’re sending a clear message; you support ethical, fair and sustainable brands. Repeat this action every day and your positive contribution multiplies. Take it one step further by helping other individuals to follow suit in supporting Fair Trade products and you’ve made a collective difference. Now that’s important!
By: Sophia Llewellyn