Welcome back to On the Record – our monthly roundup of all things Purpose
It’s COP28. Another chance for world leaders to hash it out over climate change, hosted this year by the United Arab Emirates. What better time to bring you the brands making bold moves on environmental issues? We’ve got Black Friday boycotts, carbon skid marks and even a plastic rain forecaster!
In retail, Veja hijacks Black Friday to spotlight sustainable circularity.
While some industry players are gathering at COP28 to reduce emissions, others are increasing them with a push for big Black Friday sales. Last year’s UK Black Friday sales generated the same greenhouse gas emissions as 435 return flights from London to New York.
But as Patagonia famously demonstrated, the media attention around Black Friday can be commandeered to drive sustainable behaviours. This year, French sneaker brand, Veja, did just that. Instead of traditional promotions, they used the day to offer free sneaker repairs, accommodating all brands, at their four cobbler locations.
With a growing number of brands using the day to incentivise circularity a counter-movement is starting to take shape. Perhaps in a few years time we’ll need a new name; Green Day, anyone?
In TV, Channel 4’s carbon skid marks leave you squirming.
Channel 4’s in-house creative agency launched its climate change season with a powerful but undeniably grotesque campaign. Using bum-wiggling shots of the business and political elite in their carbon skid-marked underpants, it calls out the polluting actions and inactions of the global elite when it comes to climate change. It’s a pertinent statement when the president of COP28 is also the CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. You’re made of stronger stuff than us if the campaign doesn’t leave you feeling a little grossed out. But isn’t that the whole point? Shouldn’t we be more ‘disgusted’ by private jet use and flagrant disregard for climate action?
We also can’t help but love Channel 4’s return to nitty-gritty, subversive content. Let’s hope there’s more, powerful messaging to come.
In the weather, a stormy forecast of plastic rain by Australian Mindaroo Foundation.
IPlastic rains down on us all the time. In fact, 1,408 kilograms of plastic is forecast to fall on Paris during the week that this newsletter goes out.
As negotiations for a Global Plastics Treaty are debated alongside COP28, the Minderoo Foundation created plasticforecast.com to visualize the weight of our plastic problem. A daily weather report that combines research on plastic in our atmosphere with rain patterns to track the volume of microplastic falling at any one time. For now, the dashboard is limited to Paris, the host of the first Plastic Summit, but new cities are set to be added.
Innovations like this are a great way to make our environmental challenges real and tangible. Big numbers are important but they can lose meaning. If hypnotic digital bin-bag clouds get alarm bells ringing, it’s an important step forward.
COP28 has officially arrived. With it, the essential debate on how best to reach NetZero.
While the commitment to Net Zero has been taken up by more than a third of the world’s largest companies, one thing is becoming clear, we are going to struggle to get all the way there just by reducing emissions.
We need to turn back the clock on climate change. Somehow take the carbon we have released since industrialisation back out of the air. And fast.
Trees are already doing this job for us. But with continued use of fossil fuels and deforestation, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising faster than natural processes alone can counteract. So experts have sought ways to mimic what nature can do.
Fortunately, the technologies to do just that are emerging. Direct Air Capture (DAC) has gone from science fiction to big business and it’s our next revolution.