Author: Rosanna Falconer

Last week’s conversation with Lizzie has given me so much to reflect on, not least the importance and power of community. Even though physical contact has been restricted over the last year, it’s actually made both Planet Patrol and FashMash think laterally and dynamically about the way we can develop our communities to still drive forth the urgent change needed.

Earth Day provides a focal time to reflect on the plight of the planet. As we mentioned on the Live, it can be greenwashed by brands, just like so much of the sustainability movement, but there’s power in encouraging and inciting action with #EarthDay as the starting point that will leap to so much more.

Sustainability has certainly evolved in terms of overall recognition since each of us founded our respective communities. But that has not made it easier for citizens to understand it or indeed to act upon it. More and more misinformation is spread by brands, and indeed often by the media. That’s another reason why community activism is so potent. Individuals can make an impact plus they can harness the data and voices of the network (in Planet Patrol’s case, the invaluable rubbish statistics mined through their app and global network of litter pickers). In the case of FashMash, that’s the intersection of senior brand leaders and burgeoning young talents who together form our community shaping the future of fashion.

The concluding takeaway for me is that it comes down to the combined actions of brands and citizens. They cannot be siloed. And most importantly, consumers cannot have the onus wholly on them.

The most practical next step I hope lots of the viewers will take? Forget the gym membership, Lizzie’s Planet Patrol litter picks have just resumed! From yoga to paddle boarding classes, attendees pay their ‘nature tax’ by litter picking after the class. Now that’s a tax I’d like to pay!

Aquafil also spoke to some other key opinion leaders and experts in the field, to ask them why Earth Day is important to them, and why every day should be Earth Day.

“Earth Day is an important calendar moment to have bold and ambitious conversations around sustainability issues and share ideas, solutions and even past failures that help push action forward.

As the discussion with Rosanna from Fash Mash demonstrated, community action is a key component in tackling climate issues. It can be approached in different ways depending on industry challenges being addressed, but the purpose of driving system changes through collective, grassroots opportunities, education and action remains the same.

The role of community action and citizen science play in building evidence-based solutions to sustainability issues is often overlooked. This conversation was an opportunity to bring it to the forefront and unpack both the challenges it brings but also the successes it creates.

Ultimately a lot of tools now exist for individuals to contribute to meaningfully in solving climate related issues – particularly digitally via devices that are in our hands most of the day, literally at our fingertips.

The work we do at Planet Patrol is a clear example of how small contributions from individuals all over the world to the Planet Patrol app – by simply photographing and tracking litter anywhere at any time – allows us to gather evidence that holds both brands and government accountable for system failings. This wouldn’t be possible without harnessing the collective power of individual actions to form huge aggregate impact through community action.”

Lizzie Carr, Campaigner, Activist and Founder of Planet Patrol

“Earth Day is such an important day, it’s a way to raise awareness and inspire people to take care of the world around them although Earth Day should be everyday in my opinon! This year’s theme was around restoring our Earth and there are so many small things we can change in our everyday to help restore and protect the world we live in together.”

Zeena Shah, TV Presenter, Stylist, Author

“Earth Day for 2021 focused on how we can restore our Earth, as we increasingly understand that it is not enough to simply maintain and sustain the status quo – we must actively reverse the damage that is being done to the planet. Climate change and the degradation of our environment have far-reaching impacts beyond our physical surroundings, negatively impacting global communities, increasing inequality and poverty, and reducing stability of ecosystems and our ability to produce enough food. It is more imperative and urgent than ever that we collectively make substantial efforts to reverse the impacts that have been caused by decades of over production and consumption, instead looking at how we can care for and utilise what we already have, reduce and reuse waste, innovate to reduce the impacts of our daily lives, and generally slow down.

Earth Day brings attention to the fact that we urgently need to care for and repair our planet, but concerted efforts need to be made every day. It is not enough to talk about the issues on one day – businesses need to step up and make long-term changes, and we as citizens have an important role to play as well.”

Charlotte Turner, Head of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles at Eco-Age