Reflecting on 2015: a lasting positive legacy for Paris

The Paris Agreement, a consensus reached by 195 countries at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 21, which concluded last weekend, will see one of my favourite cities in the world go down in history this year. It is an achievement that is testament to the great resolve of Paris and its people following the brutal attacks of November; we hope that this is the legacy that endures.

Though the negotiations were no doubt fraught at times, and the conclusions are still yet to be ratified by the partner nations, the agenda has been set and the all-important two-degree target has been agreed upon.

What really excites me is that these initiatives will spur on greater innovation in all of the consumer sectors – and beyond. I am always so inspired by the brands that see climate change not just as a challenge that needs to be met, but an opportunity to do something exciting – especially when new technology is part of the solution. Fortunately, 2015 has provided us with interesting examples across the board.

Last week, coinciding with the UN summit, Adidas built on the partnership it announced in April with Parley for the Oceans, an initiative dedicated to raising awareness of the fragility of the oceans and collaborating on projects to end its destruction, with the launch of a new prototype. The sole is made from recycled polyester and gill nets, and is 3D-printed, while the upper is made from ocean plastic. They’ve yet to work out a commercial model for the prototype, but next April 1,000 shoes made from yarns and filaments reclaimed from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gill nets will reach stores.


The app and sharing economies are also doing their bit. Early this year, UK-based startup Olio was created to help consumers reduce the amount of food they throw away. Already available in London, the company plans to expand across the UK and internationally next year – as well as working with retailers directly. Meanwhile, in Australia the information revolution continues with the launch of Good on You, an app that not only offers information on how ethical over 3,000 fashion brands are but also offers shoppers suggestions of ethical choices to match any style or budget.

In retail, 2015 was the year the 5p plastic bag charge extended from Scotland and Wales into England – and the results have been remarkable already. Within a month, Tesco reported a 78% drop in the number of single-use bags used in its stores – a figure that, if replicated across the grocery sector, means English consumers will use six billion fewer bags a year.

Retailers in the apparel industry, which is said to account for 10% of global carbon emissions , are also finding ways to respond to consumer pressure on climate change. Having launched a clothing recycling program in 2013, where shoppers received a voucher in exchange for unwanted clothes, H&M this year unveiled its ‘Close the Loop’ range, a denim line made from recycled cotton collected in the collection initiative.

Some of the world’s biggest and best known brands offered their support to the American Business Act on Climate Change this year, while FMCG giant Unilever hit a remarkable milestone achieving zero waste.

The fashion industry too, is making significant strides. Yesterday, Selfridges announced a new partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Its new project, Bright New Things, will launch in the new year. Building on the future talent platform Bright Young Things, which it has invested in for five years, the focus for 2016 will be on young designers who emphasise environmentally friendly production methods as well as innovative design.

As 2015 draws to a close, I hope we can all be full of optimism for the leaders and disruptors who are continually pushing the sustainability agenda through innovative, brave and creative ideas. Let me know your thoughts at Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing over the Christmas period, I hope you have a wonderful time. Wishing you all the very best for 2016, from all of us here at MBS.