This article first appeared in our Health Revolution issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 24 July 2020. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Social distancing has been branded like it’s a new movement. As my friend Dr Jude Currivan pointed out, ‘we have all been socially reconnecting and physically distancing’.
That feels more accurate to me. Like many, I’ve noticed people smiling more and have used video conferencing daily to connect.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT?
The Covid-19 pandemic is terrifying and every life lost is a tragedy, yet it’s nothing in comparison with what’s on the next decade’s doorstep if 98% of the world’s scientists are correct about the climate crisis.
EXPERIENCING CAUSE & EFFECT
For the first time in modern history we have had a global, collective experience of cause and effect. We stopped flying and commuting and air pollution dropped. We stopped buying non-essential products and our economy collapsed.
We went into survival mode and started growing vegetables in our gardens and patio pots – we baked bread and took back responsibility for ourselves and families. What a gift to be given an early warning – and what a comfort we all responded so brilliantly.
STAYING ON TRACK
Now we must stay on track, like it’s the ride of our lives (because it is). Let’s keep working from home (at least two days a week), keep buying locally grown (organic if possible) produce and keep walking, running and cycling.
Most of all we need to stay awake and keep others awake, too. Through the lockdown I met and rediscovered some of the most amazing people, who are all committed to helping us clean up the mess we’ve created. Please get to know them and use their services and ideas. Together, if we’re committed, we can fix this!
Film producer and environmental activist Rachel McClelland founded Planet Shine in 2018. The goal was to encourage the global population to focus on equality for all species, and to do their bit to create a healthy planet.
Rachel spent the early part of her career in film and television, working with legendary British director Michael Winterbottom on Palme d’Or-nominated 24 Hour Party People.
Driven by a stereotypical pursuit of bright lights and big city, Rachel left her Lancashire home and set up her own production company, working on projects with Jay Z, Naomi Campbell and Calvin Harris. This led to some amazing experiences – and, eventually, to some life-changing awakenings.
RECONNECTING WITH ROOTS
After losing pretty much everything following a bad business experience, Rachel returned to rural Lancashire.
Enter a puppy called Romeo who changed her life, leading to a reconnection with her love of animals and nature.
Rachel embarked on a Masters in Innovation Management at Manchester University, where she came across John Elkington’s ‘Triple Bottom Line’. This was another lightbulb moment.
Rachel realised that she needed to combine her core passions: activism and media. She felt the power of film and storytelling could help to instigate positive change.
ENTERTAINMENT AND EMPOWERMENT
Part online media channel and part eco media agency, Planet Shine sits at the intersection of human rights, animal rights and environmentalism.
At the very core of the organisation is a mission to help the planet, one person at a time. The brand values focus on entertaining and empowering people all over the world to create their best life, while viewing all sentient beings as equal. Kindness and compassion are most certainly the order of the day.
Rachel’s vision is for Planet Shine to serve as a platform to give under-represented communities – women, BAME people and animals – a voice.
She strongly believes it’s time for change, and intends to use the media side of the business to advocate for new global systems that focus on equity. Everyone (in all species) would be treated according to their individual need, with diversity and inclusion baked into the DNA.
Planet Shine only works with mission-aligned brands; it guides them to explore the vast opportunities presented by the ethical revolution.
AN ENTREPRENEUR WITH PURPOSE
For Rachel, ambition and purpose are front and centre, along with the belief that everyone can live a fulfilled and successful life – whatever the individual’s definition of success – in alignment with the planet.
From time to time, she’s asked about a conflict between business and revenue generation in the creation of a better world. Rachel is clear on this: ‘Unfortunately, we all need money to survive. I believe that if ambition and business growth are aligned with ‘doing good’ in the world, it’s the ideal way to earn a living – and a far better way forward than huge, profit-driven corporates. They need to take a serious look at their models, to ensure they are embedding sustainability, cleaning up their supply chains and avoiding any level of greenwashing.’
Rachel’s reason for launching Planet Shine is two-fold: it’s to achieve her personal purpose in life – to help animals and the planet – and to fulfil her entrepreneurial ambition to be successful enough to acquire a number of farms. In turn, her goal is to rewild the land, help the farming community and, of course, help the animals.
‘In light of the recent pandemic and the devastation it has caused for people all over the world, we have to think seriously about the next few years’, Rachel tells us. ‘Unless we all play our part, the human race will soon be facing even worse tragedies that will make large areas of the planet uninhabitable, as well as leading to food crises at a global level.’
Amid the tragedy, Rachel sees ‘an amazing opportunity’ – not just to save the planet, but to make it a better place than it’s been for centuries, with peaceful communities, plentiful resources and endless opportunities.
‘Quite simply, we can all make a difference today by changing our mindsets and imagining a harmonious planet, while respecting all sentient beings’, she says.
Three close friends – Matthew Denford, Ryan Hudson and Charlie Jordan – have just set up Ethicul after completing their Business Management degrees at the University of Brighton.
The online platform informs, encourages and rewards individuals for shopping more ethically. It bridges the gap between ethical business and retailers by facilitating transactions between the two, helping to promote independent retailer partners across Brighton and Hove.
‘We live in a world dominated by retail powerhouses that often greenwash their reputations, which puts extreme pressure on local and genuinely ethical organisations’, Charlie explains.
During the pandemic, Ethicul has noticed significant changes in purchasing behaviour, with many individuals shifting towards local shopping. ‘It is crucial that this local emphasis remains post-pandemic’, Matthew tells us. ‘At Ethicul, we want to propel this mindset forward.’
REWARDS FOR ETHICAL SHOPPING
When an individual buys something from Ethicul’s retail partners, they receive Ethicul tokens that can be redeemed for a mystery reward from one of over 20 partners. As an example, My Green Pod has partnered with Ethicul to offer a £5 discount when you spend £25.
Over 100 Ethicul users signed up in first week of the reward system’s launch on 11 June, so now is the time to get involved!
VISIBILITY FOR ETHICAL RETAILERS
When the three friends moved to Brighton from Portsmouth back in 2016, they were staggered to see so many fantastic, ethically minded retailers in and around the city.
‘We could certainly see why Brighton is one of the UK’s greenest cities’, Ryan tells us, ‘but we still found ourselves shopping with the retailer powerhouses that often greenwash their reputations.’
The young men didn’t know where the ethical organisations were, or what they had to offer. ‘To us this was crazy’, Charlie says, ‘as these retailers are enhancing our communities, improving our wellbeing and fighting for the sustainability of our planet.’
HOW RETAILERS QUALIFY
Ethicul is giving ethical retailers the exposure, visibility and reach they deserve for the fantastic things they do.
Companies are considered on a case-by-case basis, and have to demonstrate that they are going above and beyond standard practices within their specific industry.
Ethicul reviews these businesses by meeting their owners and discussing factors such as supply chains, sustainability and HR practices.
1M ETHICUL TRANSACTIONS
‘We accept that no one is perfect’, Matthew explains, ‘but when people are doing their best to promote our three core values – a sustainable planet, a better community and improved social wellbeing – we want to shout about them from the rooftops.’
By 2025, the vision is to create over 1,000,000 Ethicul transactions; all that’s required is for you to sign up, shop and get rewarded!
Gusto is a creative video agency for ‘brands that make life better’. It creates video solutions for marketing opportunities; a typical project involves strategy development, concept creation and then delivering the best medium for the project. That could be a multi-camera live stream, an animated cartoon, an Instagram filter, a 360 video tour or just a simple corporate video or ‘brand story’.
Tom Staniford, a directing-cameraman, editor and animator, founded the company back in 2010. ‘I worked freelance under the banner Major Minor Media, providing all kinds of expertise to agencies and brands – many of which still work with us today’, he tells us. ‘It’s been an evolution, but things got really exciting in 2018 when I decided to rebrand, scale the business and recruit a full-time team.’
FROM UNILEVER TO PALOMA FAITH
Dan Hills is Gusto’s writer and producer, Mitch Hall is the editor and ‘whacky ideas guy’ and Tom is the principal director. An extended family includes trusted directors, animators, directors and DPs.
The client pool includes local brands based in Brighton and Sussex, plus some of the more well-known beasts like Fender, Unilever, Suzuki, Johnson & Johnson, Samaritans and Manchester Utd.
‘One of our most memorable shoots was the music video for ‘He Ain’t Heavy’, the Hillsborough charity single’, Tom tells us. ‘A selection of celebs with connections to Liverpool each sang a line from the song. There were strange, vulnerable moments when singers like Robbie Williams and Paloma Faith exposed their unprocessed, naked voices in a silent vocal booth. The only other person in that booth was me, filming from a metre away and trying not to cry.’
OPERATING FROM HEART
During lockdown, Tom made it his mission to ‘connect some serious dots’ regarding what Gusto represents as a company.
‘The way we work has always been a feeling in the chest rather than a neat corporate sentence’, Tom shares. ‘After some painful self-surgery, I’ve been able to connect the way I’ve always lived my life with Gusto’s own anthem and mission. It’s got a lot to do with minimising waste and a lot to do with exciting and uncapping the human spirit – call it potential. It’s about doing everything with the whole of the heart.’
Gusto works with brands that enable their customers to live this way, and conducts its meetings with clients and its productions this way. It develops and motivates its team to live and work this way.
‘Fulfilling this guiding ethos at every level is going to take some getting used to’, Tom confesses, ‘but we’re super-stoked to have demisted our window to see why we called ourselves ‘Gusto’ in the first place.’
Wherefrom has come from nowhere. Its founders, lifelong best friends Adam and Dave, are dedicated technology guys.
Apparently they both in fact live in a cloud-based online storage platform. It’s even rumoured that if either of them glimpses a suit and tie between the hours of nine and five on a weekday, they’ll both turn into stone.
Whatever the truth about these two, they’re certainly looking to make a splash over the coming months and years. Their new tech platform empowers consumers by creating a tangible opportunity to shape the sustainability strategy of the brands whose products they know.
SHAPE A BRAND’S SUSTAINABILITY
It’s simpler than it sounds: you rate and review products based on their eco credentials – think Trust Pilot or Trip Advisor for sustainability.
Then the brand will engage you directly through the platform and use your input to help shape its next move. Snapshot product-scoring gives users an insight into who’s improving and who’s not – or, as Adam and Dave put it, ‘who cares and who doesn’t’.
‘Doing something that you’re good at, and that you love, and that truly has a positive impact, makes waking up every morning so fucking delightful’, Adam reveals. He believes the democratisation of sustainability strategies through transparency and open scrutiny, coupled with competency at the execution level, is what will move us forward in the world of sustainability in consumer goods.
‘Of course, the goal is to be self-sufficient’, Adam explains. ‘But in the meantime let’s make it very clear to the brands that serve us that we want sustainability. That is, production of goods in a way that respects the energy cycles of our one and only planet. Oh, and we will not buy your stuff if you ignore us.’
These guys and the wonderful team at Wherefrom are boldly attempting to put a bomb under a current status quo that assumes consumers are not smart enough to know the difference between sustainably minded efforts and greenwashing PR stunts.
This outfit has only been live for a few months, but with so much in the pipeline regarding new features and applications, now is a great time to start tuning in. And I didn’t even mention that with each review, you plant trees.
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