Categories
Culture

A simple way to achieve ‘better business’

Mary Portas, founder of the Portas Agency, or even better known as the creator of Save the Children’s ‘Mary’s Living and Giving Shops‘ made a confession at Anthropy.

Back in the 1990s, she says, there was the idea that fashion and designer labels would “somehow transform” women into the people they dreamt of being. Her job at the time was to create campaigns to make people buy the “ultimate, must-have bags”, launched exclusively at Harvey Nichols.

She was amazing at it. “The campaign really worked, I was really pleased,” she said, during her talk on consumerism to consciousness at Anthropy. “I should’ve stopped and shuddered, but I didn’t.

“I was the creative director of a consumer machine that convinced people to spend money they didn’t have.”

She then told the audience: “Thirty years on, I shudder. I admit to you all, I was wrong. And today the story we need to tell, and I’m telling you, is completely different.”

Mary said she was no longer an unconscious part of a machine of consumerism. “I am part of a more conscious movement, of people and businesses who want to create new systems and stories of buying and selling.”

As the co-chair of the Better Business Act, Mary said business is one of the major societal structures that can create real concrete change for the future.

“I had a penny dropping moment,” she said. “I looked at the internal business culture and the external systems we, as a society, were working to: the measures of success being endless vertical growth and profit.”

Instead, says Mary, of businesses profiting from “creating problems from people in our planet”, we need to flip that and create profitable solutions.

“There is a growing movement of people who want better in business,” she says.

The Better Business Act has an ambitious goal to shift all businesses to be responsible for people, society and the environment, alongside their responsibility to shareholders.

“We want a small but fundamental change to company law: right now, businesses legally responsible to shareholders,” explains Mary. “Our mission is to do this: to change UK law to make sure every single company in UK, whether big or small, puts balancing people, profit and planet at the heart of their purpose and responsibility of their directors. It’s a small but profound and potentially revolutionary shift.”

Smiley News is a media partner at Anthropy.

Categories
Planet

Amazon continues goal to hit 100% renewable energy

Amazon has made big commitments to become greener, so how are they getting on?

What have they announced already?

The online retailer announced 37 new renewable energy projects around the world in April 2022. Being one of the largest polluters on the planet, they’ve have been working toward their 2025 goal to be powered by 100% renewable energy.

They originally set the goal for 2030.

The projects will supply clean energy for Amazon’s operations, including its corporate offices, fulfillment centers, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers that support millions of customers globally.

How are they doing?

Well, 23 of the 37 projects are situated in places around the US, including a 500-megawatt solar farm in Texas. Their total renewable production in the US has moved from 7.2 GW to 10.4 GW since the beginning of the effort. 

New global projects have increased their international capacity from 12.2 GW to 15.7 GW.

What have they said?

“Our commitment to protecting the planet and limiting Amazon’s impact on the environment has led us to become the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world in both 2020 and 2021. Given the growth of our business, and our mission to run 100% of Amazon’s operations on renewable energy, we aren’t slowing our renewable investments down,” said Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon.

“We now have 310 wind and solar projects across 19 countries, and are working hard to reach our goal of powering 100% of our business on renewable energy by 2025 — five years ahead of our original target of 2030.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action and Responsible Consumption and Production.

Categories
Equality

Could this be the solution to breaking the cycle of poverty?

The Big Issue charity is launching an amazing new campaign calling for affordable housing, the end of in-work poverty and millions of green jobs. 

Great! How does it work?

The campaign, known as ‘Big Futures’, is backed by former prime minister Gordon Brown, activist and rapper Akala and the UK Metro Mayors. They have all signed an open letter to the government with three key points: create decent and affordable homes for all, end the low-wage economy and invest in young people, and build a greener economy and create millions of well-paid green jobs. 

Sounds reasonable! 

Exactly; the campaign has asked the government to commit to building tens of thousands of more affordable homes every year, as well as requesting a reform to the planning legislation that would mean unused buildings must be used for residential purposes.

Great, what else?

The campaign is pushing for better renters’ rights, including rent caps, an end to unfair evictions and more. This is in addition to pushing plans for a £15/hr minimum wage for everyone over the age of 18, and a call to invest in training young people in need of new jobs or job improvement.

What about the green economy?

Big Futures is urging the government to invest in green energy practices and the care economy, which would help create millions of jobs in the green sector. This would be a huge win, not just for the environment, but for the UK economy as well.

You can sign the open letter to the government on the Big Issue Website.

This article aligns with the UN SDG No Poverty and Climate Action.

Categories
Planet

The creative way this uni is tackling plastic pollution abroad

The University of Portsmouth has come up with an innovative way to limit plastic pollution – and we’re totally on board.

Tell me more.

Plastic pollution is a huge problem all over the world, particularly in middle to lower-income countries. While higher-income countries generate more plastic waste, it is generally better managed. This means that the plastic that ends up in rivers and oceans is more often from lower-income countries, that have not implemented effective waste management.

So what is the University of Portsmouth doing, then?

They have come together with partners in the informal slum settlements of Mukuru, Nairobi, Kenya and Sylhet City, Bangladesh, to help educate people about how to recycle and dispose of waste properly – through creativity!

Okay, what do creativity and recycling have to do with one another?

Revolution Plastics, part of the University of Portsmouth, has decided recycling isn’t the most interesting of topics, and one of the best ways to engage people with topics they aren’t interested in is through creativity.

Not only that, but creative methods such as using illustrations are often more accessible for people than a leaflet full of information.

Right, that makes sense. So, what are they doing?

The uni has teamed up with a bunch of grassroots creatives, like actors, musicians and artists to spread the message in a number of different ways. Murals have been painted in Mukuru, and in Mukuru and Sylhet performers have engaged in street theatre to spark discussions, as well as informing, the people who watch.

Perhaps the best part is the song; the University of Portsmouth had musicians come together to create songs and music video about recycling in local dialects – one of which is included here. Trust us, it is INCREDIBLY catchy!

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

Categories
Planet

How singing bins are helping reduce litter

‘Bristol’s binning” is an innovative new initiative for the city of Bristol to reduce litter.

Bristol’s binning?!

That’s right. The Mayor of Bristol has collaborated with environmental charity Hubbub and the Bristol Waste Company to create a new anti-litter campaign. Named ‘Bristol’s binning’, the project includes brand new, charming bins being installed all over the city to encourage people to dispose of their waste properly.

It sounds interesting. But … charming?

50 bins are being installed across the city, some of which are brightly coloured or glow in the dark, others are decorated with puns and jokes and some even talk back to you when you use them. I mean, come on!

Okay, that does sound pretty great.

Doesn’t it? Some bins are even more interactive, allowing you to vote on incredibly important issues such as ‘Surf vs Skate’, ‘Drum & Bass vs Techno’ or ‘Casa Amor vs Main Villa’ depending on which hole you deposit your letter in.

Love it! (also, it’s Drum & Bass)

Us too! (also, it’s Techno)

Anyway.

Anyway! The whole project will be accompanied by a giant sculpture of a wave, made from 90kg of litter by eco-artist Wren Miller, with support from Bristol Council, Bristol Waste and Hargreaves Lansdown. The wave will sit in the harbour for two months, to remind people of what it’s all for; our environment.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

Categories
Equality

A £50m emergency fund will help families in need

The National Grid has created a £50 million emergency fund for households in need.

Okay, so what’s the emergency?

The emergency is the cost of living crisis in the UK, which experts believe will leave many households in fuel poverty this winter.

The cost of everything is increasing, leaving some families having to choose between food and heating. Not only that but there are fears that the grid will be overworked this year, potentially resulting in blackouts over winter.

That doesn’t sound good.

It’s not – but the good news is that organisations, like the National Grid, are stepping up to help out.

What are they doing to help?

The National Grid has pledged to donate £10m to the Fuel Bank Foundation, a charity offering financial support and advice to households who are struggling. An additional £10m will go to Citizens Advice, £1.5m to National Energy Action, £10m to Affordable Warmth Solutions, and £1m to the National Energy Foundation.

Wow, that’s a lot of money!

It is! Not only that, but the National Grid is moving to create a scheme that will pay households to use energy outside of peak hours.

By doing this, people will be given access to cheaper fuel and will encourage people not to overwork the grid during the day.

This article aligns with the UN SDG No Poverty.

Categories
Planet

This ‘Fixing Factory’ is making life more circular

A community repair centre called the ‘Fixing Factory’ has opened in Camden, London.

What exactly is a ‘Fixing Factory’?

The idea is to help members of the community connect with local repair shops.

The aim is to encourage people to fix their broken household items, rather than throw them away, and cause damage to the environment.

Not only does the Fixing Factory connect people with a network of fixers, but it also helps educate people on what can be fixed rather than being tossed in a landfill, and teaches them basic repair skills.

Why’s it so important to stop electronics from being thrown away?

Our electronic products make up around 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, which is pretty horrifying, and makes it all the more important to make current products last for longer, rather than replacing them.

That makes it sound even better! What happens to the items that are fixed?

Some of them are taken home by those who brought them in, while items like unwanted laptops, tablets and computers are repaired and donated to people in the community who need them.

It sounds great!

Doesn’t it? The hope is that by creating these community repair centres we can reduce the impact of electrical waste on the environment, create a culture of taking care of our stuff for longer, and close the ‘digital divide’ within communities.

Locate the Fixing Factories here!

This article aligns with the UN SDG Responsible Consumption and Production.

Categories
Equality

NYC marathon will be the most inclusive yet

Marathons across the US are becoming more accessible, in great news for diversity and inclusion.

In 2021, the New York Road Runners (NYRR), the organization responsible for the New York City Marathon, became one of the first significant marathon organizations to include a non-binary racing category.

And now, the 2022 New York City Marathon has become the first world marathon to provide prizes to non-binary runners.

Great news! How else is it inclusive?

The 2022 New York Marathon is working to support breastfeeding people as well, providing more breastfeeding stations throughout the race trail.

They’re working in collaboration with a non-profit called &Mother to give the utilities needed.

“We wanted to make sure nothing was standing in the way of mothers being able to participate at their best and feeling confident they would have resources at the start, finish, and along the way to ensure they could have the most positive race experience,” Kerin Hempel, CEO of NYRR explains.

The NYRR is also revamping the course record award for the wheelchair division, setting it equally with other races at $50,000.

The New York City Marathon will be held on Sunday, November 6, with 50,000 runners expected.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.

Categories
Wellbeing

Bad weather is good for you – no, seriously

So it turns out going out for a walk in the wind and rain might actually be good for your health.

No?

Yep. Walking around in the bad weather has a whole host of benefits that we’re only just beginning to find out about. The first is that dirt and germs (like Covid) are instantly blown away, making them far harder to catch, which is especially great for those living in cities – that’s what a 2021 study found.

I see …

And if you’re living in the countryside, or walking through somewhere with loads of greenery, you can see a similar benefit. It’s thought that the sweet-smelling compounds released by trees and plants during the rain not only improves our mood but can help with respiratory health and immunity.

I’m still not convinced.

Okay, how about this? Mud contains mood-enhancing microbiomes, and also contributes to greater immunity! Not only that, but the cold activates something called ‘brown fat’ which helps prevent that pesky, artery-clogging white fat from taking hold.

But it’s so dark and gross.

Even better! Walking around in the dark helps the production of melanin, our sleep hormone. Add to that the fact that walking around helps your digestive system to get its groove on, and a post-dinner walk this winter might not be the worst thing in the world.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.

Categories
Wellbeing

Did you know drones could literally save lives?

Drones over Snowdonia could soon be saving lives in remote areas, by providing mobile signal.

Mobile signal? Really?

It sounds simple, but it’s true – in remote areas, such as on the peaks of Snowdonia, the terrain means that getting signal is a real shot in the dark. Not being attached to your phone isn’t always a bad thing (#disconnect ), but if you’re climbing a mountain, being able to call for help is hugely important.

Wow, so it’s a big deal.

Yep – this is about more than just FaceTiming your grandma from the top of a mountain. This is about people who may be injured or lost being able to reliably contact rescue services so they can get the help they need.

Right, so, how’s it going to work?

Well the first thing you need to know is that the drones are called ‘Dragon’ drones. These ‘Dragon’ drones can ‘loiter’ above the mountain peaks for four to five hours at a time – though the minds behind the project are hoping to extend this to twelve hours.

The drones will provide mobile coverage to those on the mountain so they can make contact in an emergency.

Brilliant!

Mountain rescues in Wales can have hundreds of calls each year for people who are lost, injured or otherwise in need of assistance.

It’s hoped that, by making help more easily accessible, mountain climbers will be safer as they enjoy the nature our beautiful little island has to offer.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.