The Talks are always a highlight of our Conscious Festival’s, and this year was no exception. A record 90 speakers shared their wisdom during a marathon 21 hours of live stream content.
Three days. 37 talks. 90 inspiring individuals. And more thought-provoking conversations than we can count. The main stage during the Virtual Conscious Festival was on fire with some of the world’s leading voices in sustainability. We heard from business leaders, activists, influencers, and politicians on topics ranging from the future of fast fashion to the relationship between race and the environment. If you’d like to watch the talks again, keep on scrolling for details of how you can gain exclusive access. We covered a lot of ground. In case you missed it, here are the highlights.
We dedicated an entire day to chat all things business with representatives from LUSH, IKEA, HSBC, BNP Paribas, and more, plus a keynote address from Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Amy Khor.
We heard from Sann Carrière (Founder of So Now) and Jean Francois (Head of Growth & Director at UltraSuperNew) on the power of “Generation Green”. Their message? Do not underestimate Gen Z; they are a positive force to be reckoned with who are activist consumers demanding action. Their ability to navigate the world of new media allows them to hold brands accountable and call them out on disingenuous sustainability claims. Will this new generation force systemic change? Let’s hope so.
Malin Pettersson-Beckeman, Head of Sustainability Communications and Engagement at Inter IKEA Group, shared her views on how sustainability must not become a luxury accessible only to the few. She believes the consumers want to change, but struggle to move past the perception that embracing sustainability is too expensive. But organisations like IKEA have the opportunity to make sustainability affordable for all. In fact, by 2030, IKEA aims to inspire 1 billion people to live more sustainably. Can IKEA help shape the future by shifting consumer behaviour?
We learnt that when it comes to banking, consumers have more power than we think. Zoe Knight, HSBC Global Head of Centre for Sustainable Finance, urged consumers to think of finance like any other product we consume in the economy. Just as we choose the more sustainable products in supermarkets, we should feel the same about financial products. The key takeaway? Ask your bank or pension fund what they are doing with your money, and ask for recommendations for fossil-fuel-free products. They have to give you sustainable options. Use your power; we can influence the banking sector.
Arizona Muse, model and activist, shared her experience of transforming her platform into an educational tool. And how we can all use our sphere of influence to make a difference. Working in the polluting fashion industry, she is actively using her platform to increase awareness and have challenging conversations with decision-makers of unsustainable brands she collaborates with.
Ruth Andrade, Regenerative Impact, Earth Care and Giving at LUSH, introduced the idea of moving beyond sustainability towards regeneration (a concept that became a key talking point throughout the weekend). She posed the thought-provoking question: “is the earth better because humans are here?”. Conclusion? We need to be able to answer, yes.
Chad Frischmann (Project Drawdown) urged everyone to “choose your own adventure” by encouraging people to become a part of the solution. By focusing on the one thing that resonates or calls to you, collectively, the impact will be all-encompassing.
We were thrilled to be joined by Dr Amy Khor, a Singapore Senior Minister of State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and Ministry of Health, for her keynote address on ‘Battling The Crises Of A Generation’. Her inspiring talk covered the relationship between COVID-19 and climate change, Singapore’s sustainability journey, and how collective action is needed to avert crises. You can read the full address here. Brune Poirson, the French Secretary of State to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, also shared a video message with attendees during which she expressed the need to change the rules of the game and encouraged new types of collaboration to help solve the climate crisis.
Finally, we also heard from Barney Swan (Founder of Climate Force) on why now is the time to show up. Jerome Pagnier (Co-Founder of WiseFins Hospitality) on the plant-based revolution within the food industry. And Assaad Razzouk (The Angry Clean Energy Guy) on why we can’t trust corporations to regulate themselves.
– Leverage your sphere of influence and create networks within your organisations
– Ask your banks and pension funds what they are doing with your money
– Email your pension fund to ask about sustainable financial products
– Use your vote
– Invest your time and money into the communities you believe in
– Be authentic
At GITNB, we believe that health and wellbeing are integral to the sustainability conversation, which is why we dedicated an entire morning to exploring the theme of wellbeing.
We kicked off the session with an incredible talk from Adah Parris (Futurist, Keynote Speaker, and Cultural Innovator) on what it means to be human. Touching upon the impact of COVID-19, she urged us all to use this as an opportunity to redefine what it means to be human and ask ourselves the question “what kind of ancestor do I want to be?”. Encouragingly, she believes that the resurgence of hyper-local communities will have a positive impact on the environment.
Carl Pratt (Founder of Future Planet) provided us with an interactive session packed with actionable #LittleGreenSteps, including things like borrowing and sharing big tools, buy clean energy, eat plant-based, reduce, reuse, recycle, and ride your bike more frequently.
A highlight of the entire festival was the impassioned talk from Keshia Hannam on ‘Racism and the Environment’. Stating that “if we are privileged enough to fight for a habitable planet, then we must be actively anti-racist”, Keshia shared her moving personal story while also drawing attention to the four dimensions of environmental racism. A must watch; view it here.
We also learnt more about the burgeoning use of psychedelics to treat mental health with Mendel Kaelan, Founder of Wavepaths. Discussed trends in wellbeing and toxic beauty with Millie Hunter (Head of UK Marketing & Partnerships LUUNA Naturals), Jene Roestord (Founder & Global ingredient Hunter LUXE Botanics), Phyllis Ellis (Director, Writer, and Producer of Toxic Beauty), and Yeeli Lee (CEO & Founder BHUMAN). And explored the importance of building resilience and balancing success with Tash Menon (Director & Founder of MASH Brands).
Finally, the brilliant Libby Davy (Coach, Mentor & Co-Founder The Re-Generation) joined us from the back of a taxi (!) after getting held up after participating in a Black Lives Matter protest to discuss how radical self-care transforms crisis. This inspiring talk encouraged us all to slow down, breathe, and realise that nothing is permanent—a truly enlightening moment amid the current sense of chaos in the world.
– Reduce food waste
– Reduce, reuse, and recycle
– Buy clean energy
– Eat plant-based
– Reduce the number of beauty products you use
– Avoid negative self-talk
– Set realistic and achievable goals
– Keep having conversations about race
– When travelling, reflect on your behaviour and what travel decisions you make
– Create and maintain a connection to the outdoors
– Appreciate the small things in your everyday life
– Focus on what you are passionate about
– Appreciate the power of unplugging. Turn your phone on Airplane mode before you go to sleep.
We covered a lot of ground under the overarching theme of Planet, from should we rely on technology to resolve environmental issues to do we need a rebellion? Here are the juicy bits.
Our first panel session argued that sustainability is overrated and that we should instead be focusing on regeneration. From understanding that we cannot sustain everything and that humans are the only species that is creating waste, to refocusing on how we can regenerate the thousands of acres of rainforest destroyed by commercial exploitation. This wide-ranging conversation concluded with the idea that we need to change our approach and try new ideas. Because “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”.
Aditi Mayer (Photojournalist, Workers Rights Activist, & Sustainable Fashion Blogger) provided an enlightening insight into why we need to decolonise sustainability. “During all the stages of capitalism, the plunder of the resources of the peripheries, the oppression of colonised peoples, their direct or indirect exploitation by capital, remain the common characteristics of the phenomenon of colonialism.” A highly topical deep-dive into systemic multi-layered oppression.
We were joined by Skeena Rathor (Co-Leader of Extinction Rebellion), Tolmeia Gregory (environmental activist), and Ihssane Benalluch (social media influencer). They engaged in a lively panel discussion on whether we need a rebellion. The conclusion? We need to collaborate in a way that we’ve not yet managed as a species, we need to start creating the world we want to live in, not exist in the world we’ve inherited, and we need to do so by uniting with governments, not fighting against them.
– Live car-free
– Reduce your air miles
– Change the air you breathe in your city by investing in a bike (and using it!)
– Buy fewer clothes
– Stop wasting food
– Hold the companies you buy from to account
– Use your digital platforms to raise awareness
– Engage with your local politicians
Renowned for being one of the world’s most polluting industries, the fashion industry has an arguably deserved lousy rep. But we want to get to the bottom of whether the fashion industry can be sustainable, and our stellar line-up did not disappoint.
Our first panel tackled the debate on whether fast fashion is bad. We covered everything from the problem with supply chains, protecting garment workers, the controversy surrounding H&M topping the Fashion Transparency Index, and why legislation needs to be in place to govern the industry. This wide-ranging discussion featuring Ani Wells (Conscious Fashion Campaign), Christina Dean (Founder & CEO Redress & The R Collective), Justine Porterie (Head of Sustainability, Depop) and moderated by Laura Francois (Co-Founder of The Spaceship & ANEWKIND) is one to watch.
Clare Farrell, Co-Founder of Extinction Rebellion, drew attention to the presence of domination and oppression within the fashion industry during a lively talk entitled ‘Fashion on a Dead Planet’. Identifying that fashion is a microcosm of other destructive industries, she explained that the fashion industry is the negative legacy of colonialism. And that we need to confront this as a reality and take responsibility to inspire change.
We also heard from Harriet Vocking, Chief Brand Officer at Eco-Age Ltd, on ‘Greening the Glam of Fashion’. Her hard-hitting message that “fast fashion has created the world’s richest men and created the world’s poorest women” set the tone as she called for the industry to place value on ethics and consequences, as opposed to increasing consumption and conforming to beauty norms.
– Consume less
– Before you purchase anything, ask yourself “do I need it?” and “will I wear it 30 times or more?”
– Shop pre-loved and second-hand fashion
– Support small, sustainable brands
– Avoid fast-fashion
– Ask #WhoMadeMyClothes
Is it still possible to watch the TALKS?
It sure is! You can gain unlimited access to all of the TALKS from the Virtual Conscious Festival for USD $15 by following these simple steps:
1. Make your payment via Paypal here.
2. Once we receive payment, you will be sent a link enabling access to all content.
3. If you don’t receive your link or have any other queries, contact [email protected] who’ll be able to hook you up and solve your problem.