September 19, 2021

Hidden impacts – Time to change

Ariane van Mancius, of Now, New, Next insists airlines urgently need independent, unbiased’˜helicopter’€™ assessment of their entire supply chains

The rise of consumption rates in the West has had a tremendous impact on supply chains, and those supply chains in turn impact the planet.

Modern living standards have created an unsustainable and unevenly distributed production system in which up to 80% of the impact of an item’€™s production often stays hidden from view.

In her latest book, The Hidden Impact, author Babette Porcelijn explains how Western countries have moved their industries and agriculture to low-wage countries, impacting their environment, nature and communities. We import the goods and food we want but fail to recognise the impact left behind.

Power play
Ultimately consumers will pay the price for this, she insists, and as a result they have the power to insist on change. She argues many are already looking for change and are themselves changing, fuelled by public figures like Greta Thunberg. Gen Z is particularly nurtured by activism, and contemporary consumers want to be part of a solution, not part of the pollution. In the latest Global Insight Survey by PwC, 41% of consumers said they are actively avoiding products in plastic. Sustainability is becoming a pre-condition to purchases and this challenges industry, including ours, to innovate creatively. Airlines clearly recognise this and we are already advising on sustainable service design and single-use plastics.

The challenge
A more balanced, holistic approach is essential to capture every link in the supply chain from cradle to grave, or even better cradle-to-cradle. Airlines need an unbiased’˜helicopter’€™ view on the entire chain, as offered by independent design studios like Now, New, Next. That’€™s essential in understanding the hidden impacts of your buying decisions.

Circularity is the way forward. As circularity guru Ellen MacArthur says:’œWhat if we created a system that was regenerative and restorative by design’“ one that reuses resources, rather than using them up? What if the model was not linear, but circular?’€

If you want to be part of the solution, not part of the pollution, the time to act and invest is now.

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