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  • Writer's pictureArabella Angell

Trees and the Three Rs of responsible business

Trees can talk to each other in four different ways. Through an underground mycelium network, bacteria in the air, aromatic compounds or smell and via electromagnetic waves.

According to Giles Hutchins, a ‘regenerative leadership’ coach, “when a tree has stopped growing and is now thriving within its ecosystem, it goes on to help all those in its orbit to thrive”. Trees are truly remarkable and can inspire us to think differently about how we operate our businesses and society. 

It is no longer possible to deny we have entered a new phase of human civilization, defined by the interconnected social, political, economic and ecological crises. We call it the polycrisis. A daunting and scary place to find ourselves. Thankfully, trees and mother nature offer us hope: a way forward towards a more enlightened path that might just ensure our survival or better yet, sustainable growth.

Responsibility, resilience and regeneration (the three Rs) are the essential ingredients required for companies to survive on this planet, says IMD, the leading business intelligence platform. This progressive way of thinking is the driving force behind the ‘circular economy’ business model and ‘regenerative capitalism’. 

What exactly do these terms mean:

Regenerative capitalism refers to business practices that restore and build rather than exploit and destroy. Traditional capitalism paid no attention to protecting the planet’s capacity to maintain life.

Similarly the ‘circular economic’ framework is designed to eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials and regenerate nature. Ellen Macarthur coined the term when she returned from her 71 days sailing trip around the world where she witnessed first hand the consequences of excess consumption on the planet. She subsequently founded her charity Ellen Macarthur Foundation. Through their work, they’re setting a new direction of travel for a ‘circular economy’ to become mainstream. 

The most enlightened brands are beginning to see themselves as part of this ecosystem. Brands such as Gucci, Chloe and ACS Clothing (all finalists in the recent CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards) are implementing ‘circular’ measures, fast and at scale. In 2024 Gucci will be launching the first-ever digital product passport; ACS Clothing have developed services to make garments last longer through rental, repair, resale and fulfilment; and Chloe has made 90% of its denim portfolio circular, as part of their ‘Jeans Redesign’ project. Exciting times.

On the other side of the fence, consumers are becoming more mindful and sensitive to their environmental footprint. Buy less, but better.  Consumerism as we know it and fast fashion are on their way out, to be replaced with a conscientious ‘citizen’ model supporting the circular economy. 

Now more than ever, rather than extracting from nature, we should nurture and restore. Only this way can we maintain the equilibrium between people, planet and profit. 

As one of a handful of UK B Corp Certified PR consultancies, this way of thinking informs all of our decision-making at FF&M and underpins how we operate as a business. We are proud to work with like-minded clients and promote circularity across our press and media network.

Here are some of our favourite fashion activists and visionaries spearheading the movement and inspiring us with their ideas:

  • Tiffanie Darke encourages us to question and challenge the fashion industry to do more. Through her writing and public speaking she advocates for a new business model focused on regeneration

  • Sarah Mullertz, founder of KINRADEN, “Through our commitment to a fair, circular, and sustainable practice, we seek to reimagine what luxury can and should be - an elegant commitment to timeless beauty and conscious consumption.” 

  • Veja - advocates “doing more, just not more shoes”. Instead prioritising sustainable growth and purpose to come out winning in a slow and steady race. 

  • Amy Powney’s Ted Talk urges us to become ‘Fashion Citizens’ and ‘Conscious Investors’ in every part of the system that our clothes touch.

  • Arizona Muse’s EARTH SHOP — and charity DIRT invites responsible brands to dedicate a portion of sales to DIRT Charity, so that we can help turn fashion into a climate solution. Reinvesting in ‘regenerating soil’ through farm projects to provide a long term solution and the fastest answer we have to climate change. 

  • Gallahad Clark & Vivo Barefoot operates a fully circular business where every shoe is made-to-order, made-to-measure, made locally and made to be re-made. They attest that “the world doesn’t need new shoes. We need a new system. This is a revolution that feels like evolution”.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and I hope you have learned a little bit more about trees. They can teach us so much and I for one will be showing them far more respect from now on.

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