If you spend some time on social media, you must have seen them this year. Who? These planet-friendly challenges inviting us to tread lightly.
They’re launched by activist groups, celebrities or brands and spread like wildfire on the web, helped by # that made them recognizable, “followable” and countable.
They reflect a general appetite for taking actions on environmental challenges and live a new version of “the good life”.
The “challenge” effect makes the campaign look like a game. In this game, we are all players of a global team, working to fight for a cause. (on that topic, Jane McGonigal’s Gaming can make a better world is brilliant!).
Below are my favorite challenges of last year:
#whomademyclothes and #fta10x10
Launched by Fashion Revolution, a UK-based organization, this campaign happens in April, as a commemoration of the Rana Plaza events (April 2013).
During the “Fashion Revolution” week, people are encouraged to question fashion brands using the hashtag “#whomademyclothes” followed by @brandname. In return, brands are expected to answer using “#Imadeyourclothes” and say a few words about the labor practices of their suppliers. The fact that consumers start asking this question and ask for more transparency in the supply chain is a very positive signal, not only for the fashion industry, but for all B2C (Business to Consumers) environments.
Almost 200,000 hashtags #whomademyclothes were shared on Instagram.
Here in Toronto, the organization Fashion takes action also does a great job at educating young people about the impact of fast fashion on people and the environment.
In April, they launched their own minimalist challenge, #fta10x10, encouraging people to wear only 10 pieces of fashion during 10 days. I joined the challenge and it was super fun. Not only did I have to be creative to create outfits with only 10 pieces (!) but I also realized the value of what I own.
The challenge here is to “simply” refuse all single-used plastic items during a month. The website of this organization does a great job at explaining why plastic is a huge environmental issue and what solutions we should use to solve it.
#stopsucking and #strawfreeseptember
Did I just say that refusing all single-used plastic item was “simple”? Actually, not that simple.
Last summer, I lost many times to waiters who tried diligently to put a plastic straw in my glass. This is a tough game. What are you going to do when the straw is already in your glass?
As I became better at the game, fall was already there… but I’m not giving up.
The hashtag was largely shared on social media, with pictures of reusable straws or biodegradable ones, marine species, or dirty areas filled with plastic waste.
An inspirational campaign launched by US outdoors equipment co-op REI. For the third consecutive year, the co-op decided to close all its stores on black Friday and encouraged people to enjoy the outdoors instead. (and also gave a paid day-off to employees). This campaign reminded me of the “Don’t buy this jacket” one, by Patagonia. We may be entering an era where brands encourage consumers to not consume as an innovative, powerful (?), marketing message. In any case, thousands of people refused to compulsively consume on that day and to spend some time outside instead.
An act of modern resistance?
TV series focusing on sustainable food alternatives are increasingly popular. (If you missed “Cooked” by Michael Pollan, I recommend it ++).
Actress Zooey Deschanel has also created her own “The farm project” with her husband. Their goal is to educate us on the reality of industrial food and on sustainable alternatives. Their Facebook page shares informative content and short videos that I find interesting.
The motto #knowitorgrowit encapsulates the general idea: not everyone can grow their own food, but we can at least all know what is inside it.
Anecdote: I volunteered in December in a food bank in New York and I was dumbfounded by the number of “food” that I was not able to identify. It was SO processed that it looked like… nothing to me. (and it’s not like I never eat processed food).
Only eat food that your great-grandmother would be able to recognize, they say! …
But don’t forget to share the # to spread the word… Happy 2018!