As individuals, and as an organisation, we are passionate about defending our environment and helping to reduce the impacts of climate change that are already being felt across the world from Brazil to Nepal.
Each magazine we report on climate change activism as well as raising awareness of the environmental impacts of so many things we over-consume, including clothes, technology, food and cosmetics.
Individual consumer choices play an important part in creating change, but they will only ever be enough to tackle the climate crisis alongside systemic change.
We need people to join together into movements to achieve this and leverage the power to shift corporations and governments.
Striking for the future
In the space of a year and on every continent, school-children have organised to demand urgent change. Fridays for the Future has grown into a global movement of school strikers for climate action. On the 20th of September, they have asked adults around the world to join them:
“It is time for all of us to unleash mass resistance – we have shown that collective action does work. We need to escalate the pressure to make sure that change happens, and we must escalate together.”
Ethical Consumer will join millions striking in solidarity with them. It is expected to be the largest ever climate mobilisation.
Fighting a crisis on all fronts
The climate crisis is relevant to everything that we write about and campaign on at Ethical Consumer. It is not just environmental: it is also a crisis of workers’ and human, animal and political rights.
We believe that the UK government and all corporations must act now to limit climate catastrophe. We call on them to enact an urgent and just transition to a zero-carbon future as the impacts are already being felt around the world.
- In Nepal, changing rainfall patterns are forcing children into work. Unstable weather pushes farmers to migrate seasonally. Entire families move to work in brick kilns for several months, under enormous pressure to earn as much as possible before monsoon starts. The kilns rely on a form of seasonal debt bondage, whereby the families are offered an advance at high interest rates in exchange for work in the kilns. Sometimes, the labour of children is pledged by parents in an attempt to repay the loan.
- In Borneo, deforestation for palm oil plantations not only directly threatens orangutans by destroying their habitat. It contributes to rising temperatures, leaving their whole ecosystem to face collapse. In the world’s most nature-rich areas, these orangutans are amongst 50% of plants and animals that face annihilation due to the climate catastrophe. As industrial agriculture further adds to emissions, it is an extinction crisis in part caused by our unsustainable consumption of animal products.
- In Brazil, rising temperatures and drought have led to the devastating spread of the Amazon fires. Lit by those after agricultural and mining land, they have been enabled by Bolsanaro’s government, with its agribusiness backing and its fascist, anti-Indigenous agenda. Now the fires are destroying one of the world’s most important carbon sinks and accelerating the climate catastrophe further. They show a spiralling relationship between ecological destruction and violations of indigenous and political rights.
The climate crisis is bound up with these humanitarian and ecological abuses – which it has arisen out of and in which it continues to play a part.
More than personal carbon emissions
Ethical Consumer is striking for workers, human and animal communities around the world, as well as the ecosystems that support us.
Clearly our response has to be about far more than personal carbon emissions. If the examples of Nepal, Borneo and Brazil show the role of consumer goods - from palm oil to Amazonian beef and gold - they also demonstrate the role of industry and government interests in determining the impact that these have.
“All the united science tells us that we are about 11 years away from setting off an irreversible chain reaction way beyond human control that will probably be the end of our civilization as we know it.” - Greta Thunberg
Clearly ‘business as usual’ is not an option.
Global support for the strikers
Individuals, NGOs, unions and businesses in over 150 countries are supporting the strike. Several major UK companies will shut stores. Patagonia plans to close shops for the day so that workers can join marches and to hold banner-making workshops on before. Ryan Gellert, General Manager, EMEA, Patagonia, said:
“We are inspired by the youth activists who have led a global movement, and Patagonia is calling for urgent and decisive action for people and our home planet.
“As a global business, we will be closing our stores on 20th and 27th September, striking with the youth activists and calling for governments around the world to take action.
“We invite the business community and all those concerned about the fate of our planet and humankind to answer with action and join us”.
Lush is also supporting a half-day strike, shutting shops and factories. It plans to replace its website with a low-energy holding page, talking about the climate. Hilary Jones, Director of Ethics, stated:
“There can be no call stronger than our children sincerely asking us to do the right thing. For this reason, Lush will stop our business-as-usual on Sept 20th for the Strike… We hear our children and we stand with them."
NEU, UCU and TUC have all backed the strike. The TUC has called for ‘workday campaign action’. The UCU is calling on workers to join in lunch breaks and before and after work, as well as asking employers to declare a climate emergency alongside staff and student unions. Several Unison branches have also negotiated ways for workers to join the strikes.