Celebrating the Change Makers: A Summary of the ChangeNow Summit 2020
On Thursday 30th January 2020, I travelled by Eurostar to spend a weekend in Paris; the journey was longer than flying but cheaper and infinitely better for the environment. I’m trying to cut down on flying anyway but to fly to Paris, when the whole reason I was going was to visit the ChangeNOW Summit, a sustainability conference celebrating the Change Makers who are making a positive difference in the world, seemed a bit hypocritical. After eating copious amounts of crepes and croissants, my friends and I set our sights on the Grand Palais on Saturday.
Upon arrival, it was a sensory overload. This conference was certainly not exhibiting the doom and gloom associated with climate change. Instead, it was a bright display of positivity, focusing on how we could all make a difference. The main floor space was full to the brim with companies working to make a real difference in the world; from biodegradable packaging to sustainable fashion brands. However, I didn’t have time to stand in awe and the beautifully decorated room, there were a number of speakers at the summit and my first talk was at 10am.
New Models for Sustainable Fashion
This talk featured key players making waves in the fashion industry for not just including sustainability within their business, but for having it as the very core for their being.
The first business, Mud Jeans, is a sustainable jeans brand, creating the garments in a closed loop process, thus minimising waste. The products utilise recycled denim and they recycle up to 95% of the water used in production. It is fantastic to see that Virgo & Co is not alone when it comes to utilising the circular economy in their production process, which in turn creates a planet friendly product.
Similarly to Virgo & Co, Mud Jeans also made sure those along the supply change are being paid a fair price for their work, as if something is cheap, someone, somewhere down the line has paid the price for it. Without this sounding like it’s an advert for Mud Jeans (this post has not been sponsored), the conference really shone a spotlight on all the sustainable fashion companies, going above and beyond to make people and plant friendly garments. Often sustainable products are not the cheapest, but as more companies begin to utilise sustainable production methods, this will in turn bring down the costs for consumers (of course ensuring that workers have been paid a fair wage).
A second point mentioned in this talk was the idea of leasing garments. The idea would involve the consumer leasing a garment for a period of time, to return it and allow it to be recycled into something else.
An audience member questioned this approach, stating ‘If I purchase the product, I could get years out of it, not just a few months’. To this, the founder of Imagin/able, an organisation helping to move businesses towards a more sustainable way of operating, Thomas Bussutil stated, that this is just one way of dealing with fast-fashion. New trends are being created all the time and if sustainable fashion wants to take off, it needs to be able to keep up. He acknowledged that it wasn’t perfect, but instead an iterative process. He encouraged the audience to go out and put their sustainable plans into practice; it might not be a perfected plan, but it is still working towards a better world.
Exploring the Grand Palais
Having finished my first talk, I was overwhelmed when trying to figure out where to go next. Did I peruse the many stalls of sustainable companies, go to another talk or sample some of the amazing food on offer? The day just didn’t seem long enough to fit it all in. Having decided to watch a talk about tackling fake news (try to use a country-specific fact checker if you’re unsure of the validity of a fact), I went over to the food court for lunch (a plant-based burger). Following on from this, I watched a pitching session of sustainable fashion start-ups. It was great to see the exciting and initiative ideas people had to tackle climate change, such as creating trainers out of old tires!
My most memorable moment
A large focal point of the ChangeNOW Summit was being kinder to our oceans. My favourite speaker was found of Sea Shepherd, Paul Watson. An organisation that aims to protect and conserve all marine wildlife. I found Paul to be such a motivational speaker.
It got me thinking, what can I do as a consumer to be a better guardian of our oceans? While I don’t eat fish, the clothing I wear is having a negative impact on marine wildlife in the form of Microplastics. You can read up on Microplastics and the harm they’re doing here. This talk highlighted the importance of keeping plastics out of our oceans, which is why supporting brands who don’t use plastic materials, such as polyester, is a fantastic way to use your consumer power.