Introducing Volume 12: Our Planet
01 September, 2015
I can't help but feel a touch of scepticism when the word sustainability is brought up. The term has been bandied about so much that its true meaning has become diluted, shrouded in fluffy terminology and left vulnerable to exploitation. Widespread misuse of the word, as well as misguided initiatives claiming to be 'ethical', can sometimes see positive actions confused with those that do more harm than good. So what does sustainability actually mean?
For me, it means taking care of the world in a way that ensures future generations can enjoy it just as much as we have. It requires recycling, re-purposing, eating local, driving less, walking more and buying fair trade - anything and everything that will help the world keep going that little bit longer. One of our biggest problems is that as soon as we set foot outside of our homes, we forget all these wonderful initiatives in the blur of excitement that surrounds our holidays.
Lauren Singer, founder of Trash is for Tossers - a website documenting her zero-waste lifestyle - is adamant that positive choices don't need to be limited by their location. Having only produced a mason jar's worth of 'trash' in the past three years, she showed us how easy it is to not create any rubbish on the go by talking us through her trip from New York to California (pack light and bring lots of empty containers with you to store food.) We also look at America's 'greenest city' where 6 per cent of the population commute by two wheels instead of four - the national average is 0.5 per cent. Portland in Oregon is a creative and colourful hodgepodge of organic restaurants, artisans' studios and vintage boutiques.
For many, the term sustainable fashion used to mean alpaca socks and hemp sacks, but a creative revolution is underway. "It's much easier now, as people understand that sustainable clothing shouldn't look any different to normal fashion," says Katharine Hamnett CBE, the inventor of the slogan T-shirt as we know it. Orsola de Castro similarly sees clothing as a vehicle for change. The director of Fashion Revolution, Orsola is responsible for the campaign that each year encourages social media users to turn their clothes inside out, display their labels and ask brands #whomademyclothes. And the founders of Rêve En Vert agree.
Often described as a Net-a-Porter for sustainable fashion, their site features upcycled leather jackets made from Balenciaga scraps and beautiful cotton basics. In August the founders travelled to Copenhagen Fashion Week, where they interviewed the CEO of the Danish Fashion Institute, Eva Kruse. In their free time, they made the most of the chance to explore one of the greenest cities in the world.
Scandinavia seems to have got it right, because in Norway a clean lifestyle is also apparently the norm. The mountains, fjords and striking scenery in Oslo and Bergen serve as a constant reminder of the country's beauty to its citizens. There seems to be a real respect for nature here and a desire to preserve it, of course in the coolest possible Scandi-way (c.f. The Thief hotel in Oslo). And Bornholm, a little-known island in Denmark, is setting the global standard high by aiming to become completely green by 2025. The island's philosophy was summed up by Georgina Brisby's meal at the Michelin-starred Kadeau - where the head chef picked the salsify on her plate only minutes before it was served - a perfect example of farm-to-fork.
Travelling to green cities is one thing, but in developing countries tourism can often be a double-edged sword. Bali is just one of the places in danger of being overrun, but if you know where to go, then you can still responsibly get to the heart of the island's more spiritual side. The Galapagos Islands in Ecuador have got the balance right for now. Made famous by Charles Darwin for their uninhibited wild creatures, which once inspired his Theory of Evolution, visitors are still able to admire blue-footed boobies, ancient turtles and marine iguanas as they bask in the sun. While on the so-called Nature Island of the Caribbean, Dominica's flora resembles something out of Jurassic Park. Local writer and photographer Paul Crask described the low-key resort for us in vivid detail: "There are volcanic vents, animals you can find nowhere else and the second-largest boiling lake in the world."
And who wouldn't want their grandchildren to see that? Orsola de Castro summed it all up for us back in June at the inaugural Creative Futures summit in London, when she said: "Now we call it sustainability. But at one time it was called common sense and human decency."