With every passing day comes a new terrifying headline about the state of our planet. Just last month the UN released a report outlining the rapid decline of our biodiversity. Eco-systems hang in the balance as a result of deforestation, pollution, over-fishing and overpopulation. It was with an overwhelming sense of urgency that ELLE and Conservation International came together Saturday at the non-profit’s annual Los Angeles gala. ELLE co-hosted the event themed “Women on a Mission” at Milk Studios where Nina Garcia presented the Sustainability Leadership Award to Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu. As Chief Sustainability Officer of the luxury fashion group, Daveu has led an ambitious charge in reducing the environmental footprints of such major legacy houses as Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and Bottega Veneta.
Other women whose conservation efforts were highlighted onstage include Jennifer Morris, President of Conservation International (CI); Emily Bond, the Head of Fine Fragrances for North America of Givaudan, the Global Conservation Hero Award recipient; ‘Aulani Wilhelm, Senior Vice President, Center for Oceans at CI; and Meity Mongdong, Director of the Bird’s Head Seascape Program at CI Indonesia.
The inherent connection between the work of female leaders like these and the future wellbeing of the environment is one that resurfaced throughout the evening. It was made glaringly clear that we can’t fire on all cylinders if we don’t hear women’s voices and support their actions. “In this country, it took a world war for us to take seriously women’s participation in all facets of American life. Around the world, we need the same push for climate,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, the CEO of Conservation International. “If we change one woman’s life, we change the trajectory of an entire community around her.”
On a mission to move the needle for women everywhere, ELLE’s July issue is dedicated to women in conservation and features supermodel cover stars Gisele Bundchen, Naomi Campbell, Doutzen Kroes, and Anja Rubik, all of whom are involved in various causes related to the environment. For Editor-in-Chief Nina Garcia, their stories do more than just inform. “You can meet a crisis with fear or with hope,” said Garcia offstage. “I am hopeful, because so many people are doing inspiring work defending our environment – including our cover models and the 27 women we profiled in our issue who are leading the way to a sustainable future.”
But the time to act is now. “In 10 years when our kids and grandkids look at us and say ‘What did you do? Where were you?’ I want us to all be able to say ‘I was there’ and I’m still here,” Shailene Woodley told the crowd, among them To All the Boys I Loved Before star Lana Condor, model Maye Musk, actress Nikki Reed and her husband Ian Somerhalder.
Although making a difference often means reimagining the way we operate our day and committing to sometimes inconvenient change, it’s something individuals and brands alike need to come to terms with and prioritize now. Nike, a co-presenting sponsor of the event, serves as an example of the massive shift that can take place when we invest in a greener future. The sportswear brand, which went big on sustainability in 1994, has since become a leader on green initiatives through developing innovative sustainable materials, deploying recycling programs, and creating design handbooks aimed at bringing transparency to an otherwise fairly secretive industry. To commemorate the evening’s efforts to raise awareness and impact change, the brand welcomed to their table Olympic Gold Medalist gymnast Laurie Hernandez and U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who was photographed for ELLE’s July issue.
But ELLE’s part in this conversation didn’t begin and end with the event. Besides dedicating the July issue to conservation, the magazine devotes a section every month to covering the brands and designers that are paving the way to a greener future for us all. Thanks to HP technology, ELLE also presented the first ever sustainably printed issue of the magazine at the event. “[This] issue demonstrates the power digital print has to shift an industry toward a more environmentally safe future,” said Enrique Lores, President of HP Printing and Imaging. This breakthrough issue’s cover was printed on 100% post-consumer waste (PCW) paper stock, and the pages on 30% PCW stock, and the ink used is water-based and contains no hazardous air pollutants (HAPS). It exemplifies the company’s dedication to sustainability since it was founded in 1939. This year, HP announced that it had reached its goal of 100% zero deforestation with its paper and pledged to make every page printed “forest positive,” carbon neutral and part of a circular economy.
“This is just the beginning for us,” said Garcia. “We are committed to making change happen, whether it’s through storytelling, recognizing and supporting the industry’s leaders, or testing out new innovations internally like this sustainably printed magazine. I am all in.”