Outer space

Editor’s Note: In the name of the planet

On a jet-lagged morning in Seattle, I went on a run around the city and, at 6.30am, landed at a local Starbucks, intent on wiping away any fitness gains I’d made with a 2k-calorie Frappuccino.

“Would you like a straw with that?” the barista asked, after the exaggerated American pleasantries.

“Yes, please,” I said.

The girl, whose “Good mawwnninggggg…” I had mentally passed judgment on just a few moments ago, eyerolled me with what I deduced to be a thought of her own.

Turns out Starbucks in Seattle has changed the design of their coffee cup lids; you can now peel open a corner of the lid, and do away with the need for a straw. Reduce plastic waste, you see.

A few days later, on my way back home on Singapore Airlines, renowned for its service the world over, I asked the flight attendant for a fresh bottle of water.

“Do you mind if I refill your empty one instead?” she asked.

Both Starbucks and Singapore Airlines continue using plastic, but have started making visible efforts, however small, to ensure bigger changes in the future.

Thankfully, the changes we see making millennials in their lives aren’t quite as subtle.

Carry-on, non-plastic water bottles are commonly seen on the metro and in offices these days. Wooden cutlery with takeaway orders is commonplace, and the other day, a local pizzeria in New Delhi delivered my pies in clay containers instead of paper boxes.

Senior designer Madhu Jain
Senior designer Madhu Jain

At the popular Taj Mahal Tea House in Mumbai, I was offered a stand for my straw: it’s a paper straw, the server explained, and if you leave it in your drink too long, it’ll disintegrate.

Today’s issue of HT Brunch celebrates this sense of responsibility towards our planet that was not quite as pronounced earlier. We present four young fashion designers who want to scale every pinnacle of success, but also ensure they keep a careful eye on the damage they may be doing to our future, and their own.

The cover story starts with senior fashion designer Madhu Jain telling us how the trillion-dollar fashion industry is the largest polluter in the world, second only to oil. Our four millennial designers are her answer: one works with wooden jewelery, another keeps a firm eye out for waste, the third uses old carpets to create fashion and the fourth recycles industrial by-products and puts forth his creations at fashion weeks, adding substance to style.

Jamal Shaikh is the National Editor - Brunch and New Media Initiatives, Hindustan Times
Jamal Shaikh is the National Editor – Brunch and New Media Initiatives, Hindustan Times

Naysayers may concede that all these efforts are too small to make a real difference. Small acts, ladies and gentlemen, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.

Also in this issue: three celebrities and humor — in an increasingly communicative world, how do they take jokes about themselves? A “single-named millennial” talks about how dropping a last name intends to eliminate caste, religious and other discriminations that come with it. And Hormazd Sorabjee drives an electric SUV, certainly the car of the future.

Follow @JamalShaikh on Twitter and Instagram

From HT Brunch, June 11, 2022

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