How to Change the World, Week 4

Happiness and sustainable deeds diary, 29th – 4th Feb.

This is the fourth week of my happiness and sustainable deed diary where I aim to write down one thing that makes me happy and one sustainable deed, however small, that I have performed each day for a month. This week I have been thinking about the role nature plays in bringing happiness to life. I was reminded of this poem:

I part the thrusting branches

and come in beneath

the blessed and the blessed trees.

Though I am silent

there is singing around me.

Though I am dark

there is vision around me.

Though I am heavy

there is flight around me.

Wendell Berry.

Monday 29th January

Happy For: Today I found it hard to find something that made me happy but seeing a whole length of clear water ahead of me at the swimming pool made me feel very grateful. Sustainable Deed: Buying loose vegetables.

Tuesday 30th January

Happy For: Productive and fun group work and the feeling of a shared success. The image of pink clouds floating above Uppsala. Sustainable Deed: Cycling to school.

Wednesday 31st January

Happy For: The first sunny day in a long time, escaping class and finding animal footprints in the snow.  Seeing a set of freshly developed photos and remembering events from the past few months. Sustainable Deed: Attending the first meeting for the proposed Test Site for Practical Sustainability in Otaniemi Campus.

Thursday 1st February

Happy For: New friends and the sense of belonging that comes from spending time together. Sustainable Deed: Learning how to fix the breaks on my bike at Unicornshki, Helsinki’s Female and Gender Variant Bike Group.

Friday 2nd February

Happy For: Swimming, the movement in my legs and arms. Being looked after by Benjamin and Maria when I didn’t feel well. Sustainable Deed: Mending a ripped skirt and Maria’s cloth bag.

Saturday 3rd February

Happy For: Talking to my family and getting to see my grandparents faces on video. Sustainable Deed: Using hand-me-down winter boots.

Sunday 4th February

Happy For: Talking to Vanessa and being transported to Montpellier for half an hour while walking along the frozen coast of Helsinki. Sustainable Deed: Limiting the amount of water I use to do the washing up and clean the kitchen.

Helsinki Climathon 2017

In the Autumn I participated in Helsinki’s first ‘Climathon’, a 24 hour global competition dedicated to addressing the pressing challenges of climate change. We began the event at 10am on Thursday morning with a presentation of the challenge brief; ‘To find solutions for reusing building components for the circular economy in the Helsinki metropolitan area’. In the following twenty four hours we were guided through the issue of construction waste by industry experts including representatives from Delete and HSY, listened to several inspirational lectures on communication techniques, participated in a 3am Yoga session and most importantly got down to the hard task of trying to solve the problem of reusing building components.

Construction waste is not my area of expertise and I was lucky enough to have Yishu Niu, a lifecycle analyst and construction expert, Kaarle Rasi, a business consultant and cascading wood specialist and Mo Bakr an engineer with experience in the circular economy on my team. Together we worked through the night to come up with a solution; ‘Timberahna; creating a new market for certified reused wood’.

Currently annual C&D wood waste in Finland is 0.6 Mtons, which makes it the most common type of C&D waste material. Timberahna addressed this issue specifically by creating a streamlined deconstruction, sorting, labeling and certification system which allowed quality load bearing wooden beams to be redistributed to wood suppliers with trust and convenience. In the long-run, by implementing our solution we expect to reduce wood waste by 60%.

We pitched our idea to industry experts on Friday morning and we were lucky enough to be chosen as the winning idea.

climathon poster

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How to Change the World, Week 3

Happiness and sustainable deeds diary, 22nd – 28th Jan.

This is the third week of my happiness and sustainable deed diary where I aim to write down one thing that makes me happy and one sustainable deed, however small, that I have performed each day for a month. This week in class we discussed what makes a change maker. On a fundamental level being able to make change requires that your basic needs are fulfilled. I believe with that privilege comes the responsibility to effect positive change in what ever way we can. Tim Jackson talks about change in ‘Prosperity Without Growth’ as something that can be

“…expressed through the way we live, the things we buy, how we travel, where we invest our money, how we spend our leisure time. It can be achieved through our work. It can be influenced by the way we vote and the democratic pressure we exercise on our leaders. It can be expressed through grass-roots activism and community engagement. The pursuit of an individual frugality, a voluntary simplicity, is considerable.”

While governments and businesses can change situations, I believe the only person we can truly change is ourselves and by doing so we may also inspire others. Dorothy Day said “the greatest challenge of today is how to bring about a revolution of the heart – a revolution which has to start with each one of us”.

Week 3:

Monday 22th January

Happy For: Finding the courage to speak from my heart. Sustainable Deed: Eating leftovers.

Tuesday 23th January

Happy For: An interesting discussion with classmates, realising what peer teaching was all about. Sustainable Deed: Taking a bread ‘heel’ instead of cutting a fresh slice in the school canteen.

Wednesday 24th January

Happy For: Feeling inspired after watching nature documentaries at the Nordic Culture Centre. In one film I liked how a man who creates mountain bike trails in Denmark explained that his aim is ‘not to change nature, but to enhance what is already there’. Sustainable Deed: Picking up street rubbish (and recycling it!)

Thursday 25th January

Happy For: Hearing a songbird for the first time this year. Sustainable Deed: Making sure I only boil as much water as I need.

Friday 26th January

Happy For: Being able to cycle again now the snow has melted and trying new Finnish dishes with Maria (Karjalanpiirakka with egg butter). Sustainable Deed: Using a handkerchief rather than tissues to deal with my cold.

Saturday 27th January

Happy For: Lazy mornings, eating breakfast on Maria’s rug and discussing the value of sitting on the floor. Sustainable Deed: Reusing old packaging to transport my lunch.

Sunday 28th January

Happy For: Seeing Aino, our 3 year old friend in Quaker Meeting and having the opportunity to share her sense of excitement at the simplest things. Sustainable Deed: Turning down the temperature of the fridge. 

How to Change the World, Week 1

Happiness and sustainable deeds diary, 8th – 14th Jan.

For one of my new courses, ambitiously titled ‘How to Change the World’, we have been tasked with writing down one thing that makes us happy and one sustainable deed -however small- that we have performed each day for a month. The object of the task is to reflect on what we know about the pursuit of happiness and how this relates to sustainable behaviour. While human well being (and ultimately happiness) is dependant on the health of our ecosystems, pursuit of well being in the short term often negatively affects our environment. Through this process we will explore on small scale, how agency and personal values influence one’s ability to make change happen and what is needed to make it stick.

I really enjoyed reflecting on what made me happy this week which was mostly Maria, my flat mate and being outside. Finding a different sustainable deed to perform each day proved to be a little harder but next week I hope to go a little deeper into this.

Week 1:

Monday 8th January

Happy For: Taking a swim and sauna with Maria and catching up on some weeks apart. Sustainable Deed: Letting my hair dry naturally.

Tuesday 9th January

Happy For: Unexpectedly meeting a neighbour on my daily commute and getting to know him as we cycled in the same direction. Sustainable Deed: Cycling in minus 3.

Wednesday 10th January

Happy For: Getting hugs from my classmates after the winter holiday.  Sustainable Deed: Choosing organic food where possible.

Thursday 11th January

Happy For: The feeling of achievement after understanding everything in my Swedish class and then the site of the frozen sea on my way home. Sustainable Deed: Changing my writing style to save paper.

Friday 12th January

Happy For: Seeing a red squirrel as I left my apartment building and watching as it danced through the bike shed. Sustainable Deed: Choosing the shortest and coolest wash cycle.

Saturday 13th January

Happy For: Taking a walk with Maria along the frozen coast and seeing patterns of ice in the sand. Sustainable Deed: Separating candle wax from the outer layer of tin for recycling.

Sunday 14th January

Happy For: The sun shining on my way to meeting and then coffee and pullat with the Quaker community. Sustainable Deed: Trying a new water saving washing up technique.

I would encourage anyone to try this and if you have any suggestions for small sustainable deeds please share!

UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2017

Bringing together an international community of business leaders, academics and Government to accelerate action towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.

“We are ready…to make Global Goals local business”– Lise Kingo, CEO United Nations Global Compact.

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Marking three years since the launch of the SDGS, the summit focused on empowering leaders to embed the Global Goals into the spirit and everyday practice of their businesses. Lise Kingo called for deeper integration of all the goals and reminded the audience of the importance of the ‘5 P’s’ “people, planet, partnerships, prosperity and peace” in meeting the 2030 targets.

We met the ten SDG Pioneers for 2017, nominated for their bold action for the Global Goals and as part of the ‘Break Through’ Section my colleague Ricardo Garay presented our resolution on sustainable fashion on behalf of the Youth Fashion Summit, Copenhagen (read our full resolution here). Finally, the SDG Reporting Handbook was launched in partnership with the Global Reporting Initiative which offers participants a new set of guidelines designed to unify and simplify business reporting on the SDGS.

“The timing is right, right now” Lise Kingo, CEO UNGC.

After a day filled with optimistic examples of innovation towards the 2030 Goals, Lise Kingo’s closing speech centred on the theme of collective action. She urged business leaders to promote and live the Global Goals starting by finding ways to transform every employee into an SDG ambassador. She stressed the importance of seizing the present moment to mobilise businesses, to pool ideas and actions and to create momentum for a future we all want.

“Leaps of innovation require a bravery that borders on absurdity” Lise Kingo quoting Astro Teller.

Negotiations; Youth Fashion Summit 2017, Day 2

Meeting with industry stakeholders on the second day of Youth Fashion Summit 2017

On the first day we worked in small groups dedicated to one or more of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 to develop fashion specific targets for positive change.  On day 2 it was time to put those targets to the test with industry stakeholders. Each group met in turn with a representative from the luxury sector, the high-street, government, manufacturing and civil society to negotiate their objectives for the future.

The High-street was represented by Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Business Expert at H&M.

The Luxury Sector was represented by Dax Lovegrove, Global Vice President of Swarovski and Myriam Coudoux, Head of Communications.

The Government was represented by Lars Mortensen, Head of International Cooperation and Partnerships at the European Environment Agency.

Civil Society was represented by Lu Yen Rololf, Communications Lead for ‘Detox My Fashion‘ Campaign at Green Peace.

As part of Flourishing; The Ecological Agenda team, we requested action in four different areas related to Sustainable Development Goals; 13 Climate Action, 14 Life below water and 15 Life on land.

In regards to land use we urged all sectors to work together in the implementation and upscale of alternative ecological materials in substitution of conventional cotton. We requested that by 2030, conventional cotton must be phased out of supply chains. We urged the industry to reduce landfill reliance and invest in recycling technology. This was well received by Hendrik Alpen from H&M, who felt confident these were an achievable target for the High-street. H&M is already on track to reach their personal target of 100% sustainable cotton use by 2020.

When discussing water usage, Dax Lovegrove from Swarovski suggested fashion companies together with manufacturers commit to water stewardship programmes and disclose personal targets for the responsible water consumption.

In order to preserve marine life and protect the health of our oceans from micro-plastic contamination, we also appealed to fashion brands to take the necessary steps to reduce the use of virgin fuel based products by 2030.

We asked companies and manufacturers to the disclose their chemical reduction targets and to comply to frameworks such as the Greenpeace Detox Campaign with the aim of eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals by 2030. We requested the fashion industry move towards a low carbon business model (following Global Climate Action targets set at COP21) and asked companies to publish science based targets for 2022.

We received valuable feedback from all of the stakeholders which enabled us to refine and develop our initial targets into dynamic and achievable objectives. We spent the afternoon condensing this work into a final resolution to present the next day at Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Something to take away…

Harvard principles for open and honest negotiation…

People – treat people and problems separately

Interests – put interests at the centre of discussion rather than positions

Options – before deciding on solution develop a range of options

Criteria  – build result on objective decision making principles

 

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Drafting a resolution; Youth Fashion Summit 2017, Day 1

Working together with students from around the world to draft the first UN resolution on sustainable fashion practices.

At Youth Fashion Summit 2016, we explored the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and developed a manifesto of demands for the industry regarding a range of ethical concerns; from climate action and pollution to gender inequality and over consumption (read our full report here). After the success of last year, the Global Fashion Agenda and Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA) decided to invite the same students back to transform our initial demands into a fully fledged resolution to present at Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2017.

Day 1

Conscious Luxury

Dax Lovegrove, Global Vice President of Corporate and Social Responsibility at Swaroski opened the event with a key note speech on conscious luxury. He spoke about Swaroski’s vision as a driver of positive change to do more than ‘less harm’. We learnt how to identify and discern between the different layers of impact and how to address each area on an individual basis. From ‘Footprint’- the ecological impact of the fashion industry, to ‘Mind print’- the consumer attitude towards sustainable consumption and finally ‘Political Print’ – how government policy can be used to support unity and positive change within the sector.

Ecological Agenda

We then broke off into smaller groups to review our demands from the previous year. We began developing a concrete action plan and set some initial targets to put to our stakeholders.  We used the Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report created by The Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group to find facts that gave weight to our demands. The report draws on Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index and in-depth surveys of various fashion companies to create a comprehensive guide to the industry’s current environmental and social performance. As part of Flourishing; the ecological agenda team, I worked with Sustainable Development Goals 13,14 & 15 regarding climate action, life below water and life on land.

In the afternoon we worked on a negotiation strategy to use when discussing our demands with industry stakeholders the following day.

Voices from the industry

Scan 4eSusie Lau, fashion blogger and YFS ambassador encouraged us to think about how we can put the knowledge gained from Youth Fashion Summit into practice in our own careers. She emphasised the importance of story telling and making the subject of sustainable fashion more compelling. By referring to ‘alternative’ fashion instead of ‘sustainable’ fashion, Susie suggested we could reach a wider audience by stealth. It is vital mainstream fashion media take greater interest in the subject.

 

Simon Collins, former dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons closed the first day of events with a motivational speech on the role of the designer. Simon explained importance of designers in ‘creating beautiful solutions’ to everyday situations with vision first and strategy second. Simon advised us to focus on creating value rather than profit and to not be afraid of making mistakes.

Something to take away…

The first sentence in our draft resolution;

‘In order for our world to flourish we must protect and restore our natural capital’

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