Report: Magazines cover sustainability

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We’ve noted before the rise in ‘eco-mags’, but ecology, susatainability and climate change aren’t limited to specialists like It’s Freezing in LA, Where the Leaves Fall and Emergence. Magazines ostensibly unrelated to sustainability are regularly theming issues around the subject – publications on anything from football to design.

Here’s a look at five magazines that have explored sustainability in recent issues: The Gourmand, Season, Platform, Rakesprogress and Riposte.

Foodie favourite The Gourmand can always be counted on to cover any cultural debate hovering around the subject of gastronomy. Their contribution to the sustainability debate is a beautiful set os still lives of single use plastic packaging by photographer Dan Tobin Smith and set designer Rachel Thomas (above). Once hailed as the pinnacle of modernity, plastic now serves as a ghoulish reminder of our folly: ‘both ghostlike in appearance and very real in its impact’.

The subject fits well with this issue’s pop art-esque cover of the convenient (read: disposable) Coca Cola can by Bobby Doherty: in my opinion a strong contender for the symbol of the 20th century.

Football & Fashion magazine Season Zine has dedicated the entirety of issue seven to sustainability. It’s a pressing matter in the fashion industry, one of the biggest waste offenders on earth. So unsurprisingly, upcycling is a hot topic in the issue (above). Forest Green Rovers, the only vegan football club in the UK, is of course covered too. It’s inspiring to read about how far the club takes their commitment to greening the game: their kits are made from bamboo, their pitch pesticide free.

The magazine itself has also committed to sustainable choices. The issue has been printed by a carbon neutral printer, the paper made from either recycled pulp or sourced from sustainably managed forests, and the inks are all vegetable oil-based – even the incredibly vibrant green used on the spine and throughout the issue.

Platform is published in India, and is subtitled ‘a creative playground’, covering art, style, music, film, literature and design. This issue contains an interview with writer Amitav Gosh, author of the seminal non-fiction climate change book ‘The Great Derangement’. This interview concerns Ghosh’s new fiction work ‘Gun Island’, motivated by the inevitability of migration fueled by drought and the collapse of agricultural industries across northern india.

It’s a starkly honest conversation – in Ghosh’s own words ‘I’m not.. Writing a book in order to make propaganda  but I do think that I myself have a fundamental commitment to reflecting the reality I see’.

If you happen to be a magazine about ‘the art of gardens, plants and flowers’, sustainability is a fairly unavoidable subject. Thankfully Rakesprogress has covered it in the most refreshing way, reminding us to cherish what we have as well as working to replant what we’ve lost. ‘From Little Acorns’ is a wonderful interview with artist Pedro da Costa Felgueiras, who is working to restore a cork oak forest in his native Portugal. Contrarily, ‘Look! No Foam’ (above) is a feature on the florist industry, or ‘a trail of pollution that’s causing the planet to wilt’.

Lastly, in Riposte’s new issue, the Agenda section looks at ‘Sustainability at a scale: what does it mean?’ Guest edited by Céline Semaan of Slow Factory, who opens the section with an essy (above), it largely calls for a rejection of this ‘culture of blame’ that puts pressure on the individual to solve a crisis that they have little control over.

The feature recognises that while collective individual action is important and necessary, ‘austerity is not the answer’. Riposte urges us to ‘punch up’; address damaging companies directly and hold them accountable, rather than putting added (often financial) pressure on the individual to make greener choices that require a certain amount of privilege to even consider. The feature is impressive: educational and motivating rather than defeatist.

These features are a reminder that the climate plays an unavoidable role in almost every aspect of culture. It’s refreshing to see print media adopting a responsible, self-aware approach to sustainability, taking this opportunity to challenge their own methods of production, as well as amplifying the voices of the activists hoping to make a difference.

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