People around the world came together on Monday to celebrate Earth Day, a dedicated outpouring of love and call to arms to protect our planet. U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin native, is largely credited for organizing the first Earth Day in spring 1970 when it was still legal for factories to spew noxious fumes into the air or dump toxic waste into streams. That’s because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency didn’t exist yet, and there were no laws to protect the environment.
Today, over 1 billion people in 192 countries are believed to be celebrating, with 2019’s theme dedicating the day to protecting animal and plant species – which David Attenborough’s timely Netflix documentary ‘Climate Change: The Facts’ explores.
This film comes just weeks after the release of David’s first Netflix series, Our Planet, which also focused on the negative impact human behaviour and industries are having on the natural world.
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London, in particular, has been a central pin in the environmental discussion this week – as protest group Extinction Rebellion took over large areas of Central London. Claiming themselves to be peaceful and creative, they said they “don’t want to disrupt people, but our Government’s failure over the last 30 years leaves us no choice.”
While the protests – which saw high-profile people such as actress Emma Thompson, authors Phillip Pullman and Margaret Atwood, and 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg support the movement, with the former giving a rousing speech from a pink boat in Oxford Circus.
The day saw many organisations and media outlets speak up for the first time, including India’s first sustainability study, launched by Indian publication the Voice of Fashion. Nasa also shared images of our planet that highlighted its vulnerability and gave a tangible idea of just how incredible our planet is – and how much we need to maintain it.
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Earth Day 2019 also saw retail brands – from luxury to high-street – issue statements, launch campaigns and delve further into their sustainability stories than before. Ralph Lauren talked about their partnership with GiveMeTap and how they’re reducing their water usage, while Adidas kick-started Earth Day, by unveiling a new running shoe, the Futurecraft Loop, made entirely of recyclable materials and set to drop in 2021. The project is bolstered with a video clip featuring and co-created by Willow Smith. Fashion resale sites also whirred into action, with ThredUp launching its ‘Choose Used’ campaign fronted by actress Olivia Wilde, donating 10% of their profits from pre-owned consignments to the Circular Fashion Foundation.
While smaller brands followed suit with their sustainability messaging, Earth Day also saw huge corporations like UniLever supporting the day. After launching a plant-based beauty line, Love Beauty and Planet, Unilever has now introduced Love Home and Planet this month to offer home-care products that are made with eco-friendly ingredients and with recycled plastic. The line is meant to encourage using resources sustainably, like its Re-wear Dry Wash Spray, which cleans clothing without the use of water, and its Concentrated 4X Laundry Detergent, which is a larger size that uses less plastic waste.
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Our brand community saw a very vocal discussion on the matter, from Forevermark joining parent company DeBeers in supporting their Diamond Route – a collection of biodiversity conservation sites and nature reserves, owned and managed by De Beers Group and Debswana, that span 200,000 hectares across southern Africa – to boutique brands such as Ocean and Main joining in the #FashionRevolution hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes, proudly showing who makes their silk caftans.
The day served as a reminder that sustainability has never been more on the lips: from activists to businesses, to world leaders and together we have the capacity to enact real change. New research and studies out in just the past six months highlight the latest facts about the human-caused shift to our global weather systems and its effects on our planet – there’s a 99.9999% chance that humans are the cause of global warming, a February study reported. Which means we all need to come together and make Earth Day celebrations a regular part of our human impact.