There was a time when a company’s commitment to do better—in regards to the climate, to the people it employs, to the communities it relies upon—could have been encapsulated into one job description: Corporate Social Responsibility. For some companies, it meant pledging to abide by certain environmental regulations, while others might have made one-off donations to charities working on the frontlines of climate change. Now, as global temperatures break new records and sea levels continue to rise at alarming rates, that’s no longer enough. Our times demand much more from their workforce.
The good news is that a new generation of talent is entering the job market ready for the challenge. And unlike many of their predecessors, these young professionals are increasingly committing their lives to finding innovative solutions to the many challenges created by the climate crisis. The data doesn’t lie: 64% of undergraduate students are “very interested” in learning about sustainability on-campus, according to a 2020 University of Southern California survey. And of them, 33% said they participate in sustainable practices on a “daily” basis. It’s a determination that’s affecting the future of historic academic institutions, too. Stanford, for example, recently received a $1.1 billion donation from venture capitalist John Doerr to develop the John Doerr School of Sustainability, a specialized school dedicated to combating climate change, while institutions like Columbia and Harvard have identified environmental research and teaching as a priority in the short-term. Without the appropriate resources, little progress can be made.
The truth is that every sector—from fashion and tech to education and food—is ripe for disruption. Because the urgency with which we must tackle the climate crisis is perhaps the only certain aspect of our future. Below, Atmos speaks with the next generation of climate professionals, each of whom are expanding the parameters of their respective industries in new and imaginative ways, about what the future of the green jobs market might entail.
Josephine Philips, Founder of Sojo
Josephine Philips is just 23 years old and has already secured $2.4 million to finance her fashion alterations and repairs app, Sojo. The app—which has partnered with sustainable brands like Ganni—connects local users with nearby tailoring businesses, and delivers ill-fitting items to and from seamsters via bicycle. Philips’ mission is to combat overconsumption and reduce waste by helping people increase the lifespan of their garments through hassle-free alterations and repairs.
“Ultimately, where we’re heading in every single sector is impacted by the climate crisis.”
Rahel Stephanie, Founder of Spoons
Rahel Stephanie first launched Spoons, a plant-based Indonesian supper club, in 2019 as a means to share delicious foods and little-known recipes from her country with friends. Two years on, and spots at the sought-after supper club sell out in less than a minute. But her mission extends far beyond a tasty menu. For Stephanie, cooking Indonesian dishes—which have routinely been co-opted and appropriated by western vegans—serves as a way of reclaiming, decolonizing, and celebrating the plant-based foods of her heritage.
Dominique Palmer, Climate Justice Activist
Dominique Palmer was just 20 years old when she spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. A couple of years later she was back, this time on a panel alongside Malala, Emma Watson, Greta Thunberg, and Vanessa Nakate. It comes as little surprise considering Palmer has spent the last couple of years lobbying the government to pass future-thinking legislation like “The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill” in addition to organizing prominent nationwide school strikes for climate change.
“There is this incredible new crop of circular, green, fashion businesses popping up all the time.”
Georgie Hyatt, Co-Founder of Rotaro
It was just before the pandemic hit, in 2019, that Georgie Hyatt cofounded Rotaro, a fashion rental platform that works with consumers and brands to rent and resell clothing. Despite the challenges that launching a start-up amid global disruption presented, Hyatt and her cofounder secured $2.3 million from investors earlier this year to help expand their business while remaining carbon-light— their efforts aided by their partnership with tree-planting program Ecologi.
Amelia Akanni, Giulia Bottari and Nishy Lall, Co-Founders of Flourish In Diversity
Amelia Akanni, Giulia Bottari, and Nishy Lall were brought together by a shared disillusionment with fashion and media—both industries have long pledged to take action to become more accessible and inclusive, but rarely have such promises made way for tangible change. So, Akkani, Bottari, and Lall decided to take matters into their own hands by launching Flourish In Diversity, a part-time salaried training programme that focuses on up-skilling young graduates from minority ethnic and disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Through a combination of interactive workshops, lectures, and brand partnerships, the trio are disrupting traditional routes into a workforce that has for too long prioritized elitist hiring criteria.
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