Black Lives Matter and World Environment Day newsletter

This week, there are two weighty topics for us to get in to that we can't avoid: Black Lives Matter and World Environment Day.

We have a long way to go to achieve racial justice in the US, UK and around the world, just as we have a long way to go to repair and protect our planet. These topics can be hard to discuss, but they are vital so please do have a read, spread the word to grow the conversation and, most importantly, take action.

There are also a few lighter news stories at the bottom, including some fantastic inspiration for what we can all do in Snowdonia when lockdown is lifted in the "Snowdonia 50".

Enjoy and, as ever, please let us know what you think!

Black Lives Matter

Tuesday saw #BlackOutTuesday, with people and companies standing in solidarity with George Floyd, harassed and abused black people around the world and the Black Lives Matter movement. You may have noticed that we didn't update our social media on that day. This was not because we don't believe in the cause but because it wasn't enough. We have too many companies 'green-washing' or, in this case, 'black-washing' - virtue signalling their solidarity without doing anything else. Via Outdoors will not be one of those companies. Instead we've spent much of this week working out how we can most effectively support Black Lives Matter and address the racial injustices that exist in the UK.

First, Black Lives Matter and equality in general is an environmental issue. As I wrote in my personal blog, climate change will disproportionately affect countries where people of colour are a majority despite those countries rarely having been a major polluter. It will also affect black people disproportionately in countries like the UK and US because the racial injustices in our societies mean that they are likely to be poorer on average and therefore living on land most at risk of flooding and drought, working in physical and outdoors labour, and because climate adaptions are expensive. Finally, incidents of police brutality happen more during hot summer days as tempers rise, so climate change will lead to yet more violence. Social issues are environmental issues, and environmental issues are social issues. As a social enterprise dedicated to environmental protection, this is our issue and so our core work is important to addressing racial injustice.

Second, racism still exists in the UK with too much segregation still visible in our society. The outdoors and environment industry is just one example of that with disproportionately few BAME people, especially in leadership roles. At Via Outdoors, we'll commit to changing that by ensuring that our are images are more representative, by actively reaching out to BAME communities on social media and be using a proportion of our profit donations to incentivise more diversity on our trips. Finally, when we grow enough to recruit, we pledge to ensure our workforce is diverse, inclusive and representative of the communities we share.

It's not a lot but as a small social enterprise, there's only so much we can do and we're not, yet, in a position to make a donation like GymShark. If you think of other activities we can be doing to help this and other inequalities, please do let us know.

Take action: click here for more information on helping Black Lives Matter and being a black ally.

World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day, the “most renowned day for environmental action”. The theme this year is biodiversity, which is such a pressing issue, but as ever these issues can’t be addressed in isolation.

So, what should we be doing? We talk about “building back better” from the pandemic but we don’t have a clear vision that we’re working towards. We talk about net zero carbon and protecting our ecosystems, but we haven’t agreed how to do that in totality. Our capitalist world view is predicated on consumption, treats the environment as an externality and is leading to our use of energy doubling every few decades. This is clearly unsustainable, not to mention leading to widespread unhappiness, and talking about solar panels in that context seems to be a plaster treating a symptom while avoiding the cause.

How do we change the system to leave fossil fuels in the ground? How can we create a system where destroying a football pitch of rainforest every 6 seconds is abhorrent? How can we do this in a way that reverses the decrease in quality of life? How do we truly “build back better for people and planet”, as World Environment Day calls for? What do you think?

Please let us know and check out this post on our vision for the future (including the value of empathy, social enterprises and how you can get free coffee...).

Take action: spread the conversation about the planet today, find a way to enjoy nature this weekend and why not offsett your emissions for the year?

What else?

It's been a busy couple of weeks here at Via Outdoors, and here are our highlights:

  • Join our campaign to get 20,000 people outdoors with our hashtag #HappyOutdoors! Post your photos of you in nature with that hashtag and we'll repost you, and together we can encourage more people to get outdoors and feel better

  • Looking for some post-lockdown inspiration? Check out this great selection by Rob Johnson, the person who taught me to be a Mountain Leader: "The Snowdonia Fifty is my attempt to put together a list of 50 adventures to be had in Snowdonia that will work all year round in a variety of different weathers."

  • Finally, we're officially a Social Enterprise! Check out our page on Social Enterprise UK!

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