Our Top 9 Takeaways for People & the Planet
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
- Federick Douglass
While it’s tempting to want to quickly close the chapter on a year wrought with the human, economic, and environmental devastation caused by the global public health emergency of Covid-19 in 2020, we cannot move forward and create much needed change for a better world until we reflect on what has happened.
After all, blaming a virus that invaded weakened immune systems, or blaming world leaders for dismissing the science and predictions of the effects of climate change, would leave us in a game of blame and still no solutions for these ongoing problems.
Rather than finger pointing, we can choose to acknowledge our own ability and self empowerment to hold ourselves accountable, and as individuals, share the responsibility for shaping the world we want to live in.
So let’s peel back the layers of this stinky onion, and find the hidden truths and gems that will empower us to create our sustainable future world.
Hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods unnecessarily lost this year due to the pandemic. And at the root of it all, lies a topic that has been looming in the background for years, but never given the attention and urgency that it was calling for.
Hello climate change.
Climate change is now, more than ever, the most significant threat to global economic and social stability, and has been for years. It has devastating effects on weather patterns, ecosystems, biodiversity, animal migration, wildfires, and even transmission of some climate-sensitive diseases.
So after a year like 2020, when we lost over 1 billion animals in the Australian wildfires, fires in California torched more than 4 million acres, floods in Central Africa and the powerful Cyclone Amphan, which killed dozens of people in India and Bangladesh, we can no longer “just know it exists”.
It exists, and thankfully, now it has our attention. Knowledge is empowering, and we CAN start to make changes that could halt and even reverse the destruction our humanity has caused. The good news is, we now are paying attention on a global scale.
So thank you 2020 for being the boulder that had to come crashing down on us to make us wake up. We’re listening and ready to look at the top takeaways of 2020, that will make 2021, the year we changed it all.
- HEALTH IS EVERYTHING
Health is wealth, as they say. A strong immune system, simplifying our lives, getting rid of toxins in your food and clothing - IS how we make ourselves stronger.
Like Cost per Wear, which we often talk about in terms of investing up front in higher quality, natural clothing so it lasts longer, everything from what you eat, to what you wear, and even to what you think, affects your health and deserves your attention. Knowing is not enough. We must commit to it and use our dollars to support companies and communities that make it possible.
As we begin the new year and set our resolutions, making a commitment to our health is at the top of our list of takeaways from this past year.
- WE ARE RESILIENT
We are stronger than we know. As individuals, communities, and as a world of empowered people - we are resilient in the face of devastation.
This year many lost family members, friends, and loved ones. Over 50 million people filed for unemployment. 100,000 small businesses were forced into permanent closure.
When we thought we couldn’t get back up, we did. Even as an organic and sustainable clothing brand, our small business at Nui Organics, did not emerge from this global pandemic unscathed. With the lockdowns, we were left without our spring and summer collections. Even without merchandise, we pushed forward and committed to helping our #nuiworld community stay strong and resilient during these challenging times.
We continued with our blog, helping people plant an edible garden, learn sustainable living tips inspired by the community, and even launched a new podcast teaching parents how to teach their children to meditate, tips on homeschooling and about holistic health. We even managed to design and launch a new women’s line so when the lockdowns lifted, we were ready.
We are resilient, and we will not only overcome future challenges, but we now know we can come out stronger and better.
- NATURE IS BEAUTIFUL & SHOULDN’T BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED
We often value what we cannot have.
When forced to literally stop our busy lives, shut down, and spend time indoors, suddenly, those that had not discovered the magic of our natural environment, were given an opportunity to discover the gift we affectionately call Mother Nature.
In a time when the beaches closed, hiking trails were shut down, and what we took for granted suddenly was taken away, we were forced to find solace in our own neighborhoods and backyards.
Fresh air. Green grass. Freedom to just BE.
Nature is beautiful and in 2020, when global emissions fell 20% due to businesses shutting down and the lack of cars on the streets, we took notice.
It IS possible to gain the upperhand on pollution. We CAN make a difference in a world we created that is killing our ocean life, killing our topsoil, polluting our air, and threatening our future lives.
How do we create change going forward? Becoming aware of the problem is step one. Making a commitment with what we eat, wear, shop for, and support with our dollars, is step two.
- RACISM EXISTS. AND WE ALL HAVE A PART TO PLAY TO CHANGE IT.
In the wake of the unjust and inhumane killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we were forced into a national conversation about race in America. The “ugly truth” of what it means to be Black in America surfaced, and unrest was seen and felt across the nation.
Racism exists, and to move forward, we were forced to look backward. As a nation we became conscious of the patterns of systemic racism - the systems in place that are perpetuating racial injustice.
The wounds run deep, but with open and progressive conversations, where listening is prioritized, we can create change and heal as a society. As regular people living within a system, owning our personal responsibility to creating cultural change is essential and empowering.
Awareness is key, and even the smallest things such as the group of friends you identify with and how that group unintentionally upholds the status quo, allows each of us to understand how our choices within that system play some part in either upholding that system or dismantling it.
Our takeaway from this ongoing conversation is to be conscious of our role in our families and our society and actively seeking to broaden our perspectives towards a truly fair and peaceful way forward. To listen and to heal.
- NATURAL & ORGANIC CLOTHING IS IMPORTANT
This past year, we celebrated the rise of natural and organic clothing brands, fueled by customer demand. In a world of glass walls, consumers started to demand businesses to step up their sustainable practices. Everything from what they offer to where they source materials, and internal production procedures were under scrutiny.
It’s about time.
We have been championing natural and organic clothing for over 15 years, with sustainability and the environment at the heart of what we do. And while as a business, competition makes it more difficult to gain customer attention, as a brand committed to making sustainability simple and helping the planet thrive, we applaud it.
At Nui we were founded on a mission to create a brand that was good for people and the planet, using organic and ethically sourced natural fibers. We are committed to using as much certified organic fibers as possible because every increase in organic food and fiber consumption over conventional consumption overrun with toxic chemicals, is one step closer to improving the long term health of our planet.
So to the competition, we say bring it on. We’re in this fight for the earth’s future, together.
- THE FALL OF FAST FASHION
Cheap, machine-made clothing with a short shelf life that ends up in landfills - in two words, BUH BYE. While it may never be completely gone, 2020 saw the fall of fast fashion.
Despite the 21 billion pounds of clothing waste ending up in the landfills every year, the 10% of global greenhouse gases, and overrun of pesticides and chemicals used in the production, it would seem nothing could take this industry down.
But down it came. And while it’s not gone, a major damper was put on it. Consumers became more conscious of their spending habits, and instead of people bragging about their new shoes on social media, they were more than likely talking about their environmental footprint instead.
All dressed up but nowhere to go. This is the world we live in now, and we think it is forever changed.
- LESS REALLY IS MORE
Marie Kondo was right, if it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it.
2020 was a year of clearing out the clutter - from our wardrobes, our homes, and our lives. It was the year where we realized how little we actually need to survive.
Toilet paper anyone?
In actuality, many found that “making due with what we have” is enough. In fact, it’s less stressful. As our habitual ways of distracting ourselves from our problems - shopping, going out with friends, doing everything we can to not stand still - were taken away, we were forced to face what was in front of us. And it was A LOT.
Clearing the clutter was the first step, and resolving to redefine our wants and needs going forward, is sustainability in a nutshell. A few simple questions to ask the next time you feel the urge to shop, are:
- Why am I buying this?
- Do I need it, want it, or am I shopping mindlessly?
- Is this item from a sustainable and ethical brand?
- Can I recycle, reuse, or repurpose this item when I am done with it?
What else can I do with the money I save if I don’t buy this? (save it, donate it, spend it on something more worthy).
“No problem can be solved with the same level of consciousness that created it.”Albert Einstein
- EDUCATION NEEDED AN UPGRADE AND GOT IT
There is no “new normal” in terms of education - there is only the “new NOW”.
While our conscious and nature-based community, as a majority, supports home schooling, unschooling, Waldorf and Nature school formats, many children have been following a traditional path of education. That school system, created during the Industrial age to create factory workers, no longer was serving students to the highest degree, for the world we live in now.
In the digital age, our foundational basic skills - creativity, resilience, reasoning - are the skills of the future. Luckily, this past year, schools were quickly able to adapt to a home-based learning environment, and while there are still challenges to face in public schools, and while the actual curriculums still need to be addressed and updated, these changes were one step forward towards our “new now”.
This is why at Nui, we started the Sustainability for Schools program to help support schools. We believe in the future of our children and while we are fans of the homeschool and Waldorf school formats, we support the education of ALL children.
- CARBON NEGATIVE IS POSSIBLE
Buy what you love and need, reduce, reuse, recycle.
Carbon neutral became a topic of discussion in 2020. WIth so many brands being forced to expose their carbon footprints and transparency becoming a critical factor for customer retention, sustainability was put to the test.
Carbon neutral or carbon negative is a “thing”. When brands say they are “carbon neutral” it does matter, but it’s what they are NOT saying that matters more.
The act of production of a consumer good pollutes the environment, and as a brand, Nui is a part of that industrial system. So it becomes important for businesses to take the extra effort to “offset” it.
Pollution is pollution - and we too, work to minimize our footprint. But luckily, along with using biodegradable natural, organic fibers, compostable bags, and monitoring every step of the life cycle of the garments, we have a smaller footprint than most clothing brands - naturally.
Sheep are part of the natural carbon cycle, consuming the organic carbon stored in plants and converting it to wool. Fifty per cent of the weight of wool is pure organic carbon and wool sourced from regenerative farms, actually cancels carbon emissions as it serves as a necessary part of the carbon cycle.
Add in that wool exceeds the lifespans of other fabrics, needs less washing at lower temperatures and has a lower impact on the environment, that it’s recyclable and biodegradable… and you get the point.
We acknowledge carbon neutral as a wonderful step forward. And we stand that carbon negative is even better, and possible. Your dollars then determine the standard for the future.
IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL IT’S OVER
To sum up 2020 in a nutshell… the fat lady hasn’t sung. In fact, she may just have gotten the virus due to the threatening comorbidity statistic she shares with 650 million other Americans.
As we enter the new year, we take with us the lessons and consciousness that the past year exposed. Despite knowing that air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year, and 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds the WHO’s guideline limits containing high levels of pollutants; that by 2050 experts predict our oceans will no longer support fish and other sea life, and so much more, we remain resilient and positive for the outlook ahead.
If 2020 was a year of unexpected challenges, 2021 is a year of conscious, intentional changes. We are hopeful for this next year. Because with awareness comes choice, and with intention comes right actions.
What is your vision for this next year? Share in the comments so we can spark conversation and ideas for shaping the future world we want to live in.