What was your a-ha moment that made you become engaged in sustainability?
For me it was not an a-ha moment but more of a slowly growing awareness of “shit-our-kids-are-in-big-trouble-if-we-don’t-do-something-fast” that made me aware that we need to change the way we produce and consume.
What is your single best tip for someone who wants to do more for the environment on a personal level?
There’s two, actually. “Saving the world” must be fun and realize that you can’t do it on your own. Start to look at how you live your life and start to make small changes and then get your family and friends involved because it has a greater impact that many do something than just a few do a lot.
What do you think will be the legacy of your generation?
I don’t think it’s fair to talk about a generation as a whole, because there’s so big difference in the environmental footprint depending on if you live in Nigeria, Vietnam, the US or in Denmark. I feel that for our and our parents generation in the West I think that our legacy will be that we failed to react in due time and thereby making the cost of adjusting much much higher. Nearly all of the information we have now about climate change was available 40-50 years ago!
What is the most critical technological breakthrough that needs to happen for the world to reach the 1,5 degree goal?
Honestly, I don’t think we will get one great breakthrough technology, however it would be nice though. I think we need a lot of small and big breakthroughs, which all will move us in the right direction and together make the changes that are needed.
What will this breakthrough demand from us as a society?
I am sure that these breakthroughs will push us to consume more efficient and responsible, without a decrease in our quality of life perception.
What is your company’s most impactful contribution to fight climate change?
First of all, we changed our entire fabric base. In the fashion industry 70-80% of a garments environmental footprint happens in the development of the fabric. Secondly, we started to view CO2 as a cost and incorporated it in our bill of materials. I think this is a very important step since considering CO2 a “free” resource tends to let corporations use it unlimited.
In your industry, what do you think will be the most groundbreaking change over the next 10 years?
Technology will enable us to be much better at producing what our customers actually want instead of what we expect that they want. Today in the fashion industry, way too much is produced and hence sold at a discount.
Which brand (in general) do you think is at the forefront when it comes to sustainability?
Tesla is a great example of a company that has been able to turn “an electric car” which in the past was from a design point of view a joke, into something super cool and hence pushed the transformation of an entire industry.
What makes you climate positive about the future?
First and foremost, because of the speed in which the sustainable agenda is picking up. As the Chairman of the Global Fashion Agenda during the last 6 years, I have witness how the sustainability agenda in the fashion industry has moved from a small group of very skilled experts (and a lot of tree-huggers) into a CEO top priority. I’m sure that this is also happing in other industries as well, which makes me optimistic about the changes that we are about to see in the next 3-5 years.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just to share a quote by Robert Swan “The biggest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”
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