Sustainability advocacy: a discussion with Millennials for Environment
“Instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come. We can't save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change, and it has to start today.” - Greta Thunberg, at TEDxStockholm, November 2018
Awareness of climate issues is vital to shape a conscious outlook, however, collective action is so important in order for us to actually work towards a more sustainable world. Knowing what particular issues exist in the world are certainly a great start but there’s a responsibility that lies with each of us to put that knowledge to use and make an active change. And it’s like what we always say, every step counts no matter how big or small, so do what you can and commit to it. When enough of us take that initiative and use our voices to spread the word, we’ll certainly see real change occur.
We can see this in recent years with how increased awareness and conversations around the practices of high profile brands have led them to come under major scrutiny. With the growing demand for brands to be more sustainable, the rise in instances of greenwashing has occurred - meaning brands reorient their practices, boasting ‘conscious values’ and ‘sustainable systems’ when in fact their claims are far from truth. Fast fashion brands themselves have time and time done it too, however, as we said, with growing awareness, they have also been called out on many occasions - you have likely heard of brands such as H&M, Zara, and Primark facing greenwashing accusations. And so, it urges brands to take its consumers demands more seriously.
Today, we wanted to speak a bit more about advocacy, particularly here in India, and why it's something we should all try and participate in whenever we can. We also have a very special organisation, Millennials for Environment, join us to give us some more insight, so, let’s start with some introductions...
A chat with Millennials for Environment
SUI: To begin, tell us a bit about yourself.
MFE: We are a student-run collective that creates awareness about the climate crisis, environmental issues & sustainability in India & advocate for climate action as well. Started in 2019, we have organised talks on the same, organised & participated in environmental justice campaigns & climate strikes. Our latest project involves creating one of the most extensive directories on waste management enterprises & sustainable brands in India.
SUI: In your opinion, what’s the most pressing sustainability issue that needs to be addressed in India?
MFE: Working towards a circular economy, where there is no pollution or waste, would be one of the most pressing issues that need to be addressed in India. As consumerism grows, there's a need for goods & services that are zero-waste & sustainable, that don't harm but instead enrich the environment.
SUI: Why is it important to involve the youth/students?
MFE: We are inheriting a world that is in a deep crisis. There's an ongoing ecological crisis, the sixth mass extinction, a world that at its very core is deeply troubled. It is for this reason that it's necessary to involve the youth, as the direction we take, the issues we act on, matter the most. If we choose to take climate action & work towards ecological restoration, an ecologically healthy & just world is possible.
SUI: What do you wish more of the youth in India knew about sustainability or climate change?
MFE: We want to tell the youth that change is possible if we all work together, that building a climate-resilient, ecologically healthy world can become a reality if we work together as a community, care for each other & our environment. While systemic change is absolutely necessary, even conserving our local environment & community goes a long way in building a better world.
SUI: For anyone first learning about the effects of climate change, what resources would you recommend they look to first - books/documentaries/podcasts/etc. Recommendations?
MFE: We would recommend The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Walls for someone wants to learn about climate change. Further, for someone looking to solve the crisis and work towards mitigation, we would recommend Drawdown by Paul Hawken, which provides extensive solutions to the crisis. Anyone interested in the environmental space in India can also check out the podcast The India Energy Hour available on Google Podcasts. We have a host of recommendations on our website to learn about climate change & environment as well.
SUI: How would you try to encourage others to take action in their own individual way?
MFE: Take action in one's local community & environment can lead to a lot of benefits. Ensuring that waste is managed effectively, conserving & encouraging green spaces, switching to sustainable & local goods & products are some of the ways people can take action.
Our own green way: the SUI X Green Yatra collaboration
Aside from our own work crafting consciously to make sure our designs are sustainably made to help preserve our environment, we also do our best to align with others to build a greener world.
Shared connections are a part of the work we do at SUI and a part of that means working with organisations who share a common goal with ours - a green heart planet. Speaking with conscious minds and groups such as Millennials for Environment helps us gain a deeper understanding of our planet and climate issues - we know there is always more to learn! - and we also strive to join hands to further their efforts.
Our most recent collaboration is a testament to that. Green Yatra is one such organisation, whom we’ve been working with for the past few months to spread awareness on the importance of trees. We first introduced them to our audience during World Environment Day as we spoke to Srijita and Niksa from their team about the importance of education and collective action.
To continue our shared mission, we decided to launch a product crafted by us with one main goal. The new piece, The Green Yatra organic cotton t-shirt, helps us carry out a specific intention as with every tee purchased, GY will plant a tree!
Our aim is to increase awareness on our connection with nature and why trees matter and our first goal is to plant 100 trees. The shirts themselves are crafted in the softest organic cotton, sourced from RCM organic who works with Chetna Organic to harvest and grow their cotton before creating into knit fabric within their sustainable set up. The fabric is then stitched at our workshop by our team and the SUI motifs on the t-shirts are hand block printed.
So, why Green Yatra?
Green Yatra is a leading environmental NGO based here in India. Their sole aim is “towards protection, conservation and betterment of Mother Nature and Humanity” and so, lead many projects that help conserve and better our environment - including many plantation projects such as their Miyawaki forests.
And why should we be planting more trees?
Millennials for Environment offers some insight mentioning, “If the correct species is planted, one that thrives in the region & becomes a habitat for other species, then a plantation project makes a significant difference as it contributes to the overall ecology & wellbeing of the place. They become home to other species, improve air quality, attract rain, moderate the temperature of the region & also contribute to the wellbeing of the community.”
It’s also important to note that with the ever increasing rate deforestation is occurring on our planet - about 46% of our trees have been cut down since humans started doing so - it’s important we try to actively help plant even more.
Join the cause and help us bring more green into the world!
We hope this helps put into perspective how important it is to use our voices and make an effort on an individual level each day to live more sustainably. If we all come together, there’s so much incredible change we can make.