How Green Is The New Black Is Leading Asia’s Sustainability Movement

Words Alexandria Baker
Date

Sustainability is sexy, and Green Is The New Black wants everyone to know it. 

Founded in 2017, the platform is dedicated to empowering its audience to live more consciously and connect people with brands making a positive impact. But unlike other environmental platforms, readers won’t find bucolic nature scenes as they scroll through Green Is The New Black’s website

Instead, Green Is The New Black defines itself with an eye-catching editorial aesthetic—such as a photoshoot of contributors and influencers wearing trash in their “Green Warriors” series. This somewhat capricious tone is belied by the fact that Green Is The New Black is working hard to cut right to the heart of the environmental issues plaguing Asia. 

From air pollution in Hong Kong to the profusion of single-use plastics, Green Is The New Black has made it their mission to facilitate conversations and solutions to these issues, by hosting events such as the Conscious Festival to unite conscious brands, businesses and people in one place. 

Having an impact in Asia is having an impact on the world.

Paula Miquelis

Guided by their core values—which include protecting the planet, empowering consumers, promoting animal welfare, and supporting innovation for good, among other things—Green Is The New Black is creating space for writers, photographers and entrepreneurs to mastermind simple solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems. 

We caught up with Green Is The New Black Co-founder and Creative Director Paula Miquelis to get her take on sustainability and the importance of living consciously in Asia and around the world.


Why did you decide to make sustainability a focus in your career, and what attracted you to Asia specifically?

My first job was at an investment bank. It had grey suits and a serious amount of money, but I got depressed after a year. I went back to school in Singapore to get my master’s and discovered the concept of “social entrepreneurship.” I found out for the first time that growing an organization which was both financially sustainable and impactful toward the environment and communities was possible! 

In Singapore, I joined a consulting agency that specialized in helping multinationals set up circular value chains—meaning nothing gets lost, everything is reused or recycled. I acquired skills in sustainability and storytelling, especially video and photography. I traveled to remote places such as Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Cambodia, Madagascar, and Nepal for exciting projects with partnerships between multinationals and grassroots communities. I was assisting the video production team and liaising with the sustainability team. Dream job! 

Why Asia? I studied in Hong Kong as an exchange student for eight years at HKU. It was my first time living abroad and one of the best years of my life. I met friends for life and fell in love with the Kong and Asia in general. From a sustainability point of view, the biggest environmental issues are in Asia, including oceans plastic. For instance, China and Indonesia are the largest polluters in the world. Another issue is palm oil and the problems related to it, including deforestation and the liberation of CO2 which was sequestered for a million years and aggravates climate change. 

Having an impact in Asia is having an impact on the world. 

How does Green Is The New Black work to make sustainability accessible? What are “little green steps” and why are they important?

Sustainability is already such a complex word and to be honest, it’s really hard to achieve. So instead we opt for the word “conscious”—which means having the right intentions and being fully aware of the consequences of the actions we take on ourselves, others, and the planet. Having said that, we truly believe that complex environmental and social issues can be broken down into small yet impactful actions we can all comprehend and implement on a daily basis. 

For us, #LittleGreenSteps refers to the fact that by collectively taking simple, yet consistent actions, together we can create what we call a “micro revolution.” Not because our single action matters, but because even a handful of conscious consumers can influence big companies and governments to operate for the greater good. 

How does Green Is The New Black use visual design and themed photoshoots to differentiate itself from other sustainability platforms? 

Our vision is to make sustainability sexy and mainstream, so we use pop culture codes to talk about complex environmental and social issues. We also often collaborate with inspiring artists, photographers such as Flavien Prioreau, Zoe Kovacs or Nicoline Aagesen who have a unique perception of life and help us to achieve our vision. 

This can be seen in our Green Warriors campaign for 2017 and 2018.

We are also making a documentary called The Naked Arctic Adventure, shot in the Arctic in partnership with the 2041 Foundation founded by Robert Swan—the first man in history to walk from the South to the North pole. It will be the story of two women in their 30s seeking concrete answers to have a better impact on the planet, through the lens of polar exploration. Again, our goal is to make the content accessible, fun, colorful, concrete, and overall positive! People do not want to hear gloomy stuff. We prefer inspiration over shaming to influence people to take action! 

Photo by Alex Macro
Why is it important to host events like the Conscious Festival in Asia? How do they impact the sustainability movement in the region?

We’ve all heard about climate change and plastic pollution, with the fashion industry being one of the most polluting industries in the world. The issue is not that we do not hear about them, the issue is that we do not know what to do. When searching for events and communities to learn how to be more conscious, we could not find any place which was welcoming and easy enough to start our own sustainability journey. That’s why we created the Conscious Festival to make it easy and fun for people to learn how they could make a better impact on themselves, others and the planet.

The Conscious Festival aims to empower individuals to take #LittleGreenSteps to #LiveMoreConsciously, through a mindful Marketplace (free entry) and transformational Talks (ticketed). Bringing together the best local and international conscious brands, speakers, and social entrepreneurs who are making meaningful change in their industries, the festival provides a curated platform to raise awareness about sustainable consumption and lifestyle choices, so that people can make informed decisions about the way they live. It’s a place where fun and social environmental responsibility go hand in hand.

How can we work to improve sustainability in Hong Kong and Singapore?
  1. Reduce our meat consumption 
  2. Reduce our single-use plastic consumption 
  3. Recycle the recyclables 
  4. Keep the air conditioning to a minimum 
  5. Maintain and control the number of cars allowed in the city 
  6. Buy fewer clothes or prioritize second-hand purchases 
  7. Breath, breath, breath and the world will be better! 
Have you noticed any increase in sustainable products, practices or general awareness of the movement?

Definitely. Our time has never been more exciting! Not only are there more green products, but they are also cool, aesthetically modern, and city-relevant! We are far away from the clichés about hippies or spiritual woo-woo. 


Photos by Flavien Prioreau and Zoe Kovacs unless otherwise noted

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