What is Earth Day and why is it so important?
One thing is clear: for our Earth and everyone on it to survive, things need to change. Fast. By bringing awareness to the threat of climate change and the importance of true sustainability & positive action, Earth Day aims to push the conversation around this topic. It is a day dedicated to this mission. And this movement has become more and more important, not just because it recognises the negative impact of human activity on the planet but also because it is an opportunity to hold brands and businesses accountable.
In addition, Earth Day coincides with another important movement - the Fashion Revolution Week (April 18th-24th). This movement has a tragic background: on April 24th, 2013, around 1130 people died and over 2500 workers suffered injuries when the factory Rana-Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh collapsed. The Fashion Revolution Week was brought to life to prevent us from forgetting and to fight against the injustices, power imbalances and the social and environmental impact of the fashion industry. Just like Earth Day, it is a day to hold brands and businesses accountable and demand change.
Promises are silver, action is golden
One noticeable element of Earth Day is the ambitious promises made by major brands. Last year, for example, KitKat pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025 and L’Oréal Paris promised to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% per finished product by 2030. Rightfully so, this day gives an impulse to question business as usual and kickstart positive action. While these are important steps, with likely a lot of change needed behind the scenes, the question remains, are such promises enough? If brands halve the carbon footprint of each product but keep increasing sales, won't carbon savings be too minimal? Do longterm promises perhaps give brands time to postpone immediate action and avoid accountability in the present, whereas urgent action is needed right now? Lastly, the question arises, who is keeping track of all the promises?
At MUD Jeans, we believe in the importance of immediate action and taking responsibility now. Apart from taking responsibility over our waste by taking back and recycling our old jeans, we constantly question our approaches and innovate to achieve new, less impactful production techniques and materials. Through this, our jeans already use 93% less water and 74% less CO2, and have a 51% lower impact on biodiversity. Furthermore, we have maintained a small and transparent supply chain which allows to foster close relationships with all of our partners. Through this close relationship, as well as our code of conduct and third-party audits, we work hard to ensure everyone involved in the making of our jeans is treated fairly.
Social sustainability & climate justice
Another important point to keep in mind is that Earth Day goes beyond environmental impact. Social impact plays an important role in sustainability and in the way we fight climate change. A holistic approach for a more sustainable future is needed, where no one is forgotten. Still today, even ambitious new measures, such as the EU Sustainable Textiles strategy, fail to sufficiently address social impact when discussing sustainability. When looking at Earth Day and social sustainability, climate justice is one topic which needs to take centre stage.
Climate justice is about placing "the needs and voices of those who are most impacted by climate change at the forefront" (B Lab). This approach is desperately needed because, oftentimes, those communities least responsible for climate change suffer the most significant effects. Rising sea levels and natural disasters, for example, impact coastal communities every year and have damaged homes and cost lives. While climate change is predominantly caused by the economically fortunate and privileged, the effects are disproportionately felt by marginalised communities.
One inspiring example of an initiative supporting climate justice is the TAZO Tree Corps. This corps is a group of locally hired individuals planting and maintaining trees to combat climate change and create new jobs in economically disadvantaged US neighbourhoods and communities of colour.
Find out more in this video:
Having an impact beyond Earth Day
One thing is clear: Earth Day is a day with meaningful actions around the world. But as the Earth Day organisation puts it themselves - "It's not a day, it's a movement." We need consistent positive action to have a true impact. We need Earth Day to be everyday. One way in which businesses can live this philosophy is by putting sustainability at the centre of their business model. We at MUD Jeans believe that, only if sustainability is at the centre of decision making, can such values be truly lived within a business. MUD Jeans was founded around the idea of producing the most sustainable denim. In every major decision made, this ultimate goal is kept in mind. Our hope is to show that business models centred around sustainability can work and that more and more businesses will begin to prioritise these values longterm.
What we are doing this Earth Day
This Earth Day, we are excited to launch our new Voices for Good platform. This project came about when we asked ourselves "how can we have a wider reaching positive impact?". And it boils down to this: our jeans may not save the world, but the people who wear them can. Whenever we look at the people who support our brand, we are inspired by the amount of change making, questioning, advocating, learning, supporting, and championing we find. We decided we want to use our platform to promote these voices. Voices for Good will provide a platform for the initiatives of our supporters that promote social and environmental change. It introduces initiatives to a wider audience, potential supporters, partners, and volunteers. To find out more, check out the page here.
Finally, we want to find the time to do more good within the MUD Jeans team. For this reason, all MUD employees are now given an Earth Day off every year to spend on supporting social and/or environmental projects.
What you can do
Check out the official Earth Day website for many suggestions on how you can take action this Earth Day. For example, you can join the Great Global Cleanup, advocate for climate action at your university, or make an Earth Day window sign.
Hold others accountable
One example of how you can hold brands accountable is to send a simple email/letter demanding change. In the spirit of Fashion Revolution Week, you can find an email template here, to demand more transparency about the supply chain of any fashion brand.
Knowledge is power! Want to learn more about sustainable fashion? Take our course here. This course will equip you to spread awareness, pressure companies to change and alter your behaviours and habits. Or check out some documentaries on WaterBear, the first free video on demand platform dedicated to the future of our planet. Here are our top 3 picks:
1. Wild Innovators - highlighting forward-thinking ideas led by local women conservationist, scientists, and community organisers.
2. A Circular Solution - showing that a circular economy doesn't aim to end growth - instead it asks how we can achieve prosperity for future generations.
3. #TreesAreTheKey - a blueprint for mitigating climate change and alleviating hunger and poverty in Africa.