We’ve all seen the classic scene: A beautiful princess wearing a diamond tiara with the sparkle of diamond earrings that catch your eye; a handsome man on one knee, proposing with a breathtaking diamond ring. In movies and now often in real life, diamonds represent love and glamour.
However, we tend to forget that we usually only see the end product: a clean-cut sparkling gem. The illusion we have of this precious stone is quickly destroyed when we look further down the production line. For those working on the raw material end of this industry, the reality is quite different. To them, diamonds often represent hate, violence and death.
After the popularity of movies such as ‘Blood Diamond’, that somewhat shed a light on these affairs, the problems became more known to the average consumer. Unfortunately, twelve years after the movie, the situation has only improved a little. We’ve just done what we tend to do with horrendous news, we’ve forgotten and replaced them with new horrendous news.
The organisation Human Rights Watch has recently brought attention to this topic again. Much like in other industries with complex supply chains (cocoa, garment, coffee) human rights abuses are still very much prevalent in the diamond industry. People, families, indigenous locals and children are being misplaced, tortured, and enslaved to work for large mining corporations. Not to mention the harm mining fields cause on the environment.
On one hand, these human rights violations can be traced back to the corrupt military, governments and individuals owning and managing the mining fields. They are the ones who are directly and indirectly engaging in numerous infringements.
On the other, we can also blame larger diamond companies, buyers and consumers on our end of the production line. We tend to be disinterested in where our products come from.
Overall, it’s about accountability. Specifically, the lack of accountability. Unfortunately, we live in a society where being compassionate isn't a given. We have become individualistic and stopped caring about others unless it involves us in any way. Most people need an incentive to do something benevolent and this is reflected in the diamond industry.
Because global supply chains have become incredibly complex and unintelligible, it is difficult to trace and properly check up on each diamond.
We all know what is happening in the diamond fields in Marange for example, but we tend to have a “don’t see, don’t know” attitude towards these things.
We need more accountability. As individuals, companies, and industries; as a whole.
Large diamond corporations, on all ends of the supply chain, need to be transparent about the source of their product and honestly answer the questions “where? how? and by whom?”
But they won’t until we make them. These companies are for-profit, thus they'll supply only if the people demand. That is why accountability and change start with the individual.
Consumers need to start demonstrating accountability when buying a new pair of diamond earrings or a jewelled ring. Make sure they have been sourced ethically and sustainably.
If one starts asking the important questions, a “one” can change into a collective “we”.
Ultimately our actions will be seen by larger companies/the industry and inevitably change their practices. They will be forced into transparency and potentially shorten their supply chains.
Some of this change is already visible. Trends have shown that younger generations are becoming increasingly conscious and this is killing the diamond industry. They’re not willing to spend thousands on jewellery, especially if the sector is corrupt and exploitative.
Millennials, for example, are turning to lab-grown diamonds. Not only are they cheaper, they are traceable and don’t cause any damage to people, communities and the environment. Opting for lab-grown diamonds is a great way to demonstrate accountability and showing the industry that we won’t welcome exploitative practices anymore.
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American Internet celebrity and makeup artist Jeffree Star wants to open his own vegan-friendly fast-food chain.
As reported by LiveKindly, Jeffre Star made the announcement during a live stream on his Youtube channel where he speaks to an audience of 11 million subscribers.
During the video, the makeup guru said that he is "in talks" to start the business. The concept? A vegan-friendly ('that's the real gag") restaurant, selling pink cheeseburgers and cotton candy fries.
Yes, you got that right.
As noted by LiveKindly, this is not Mr Star's first foray into the world of veganism. Over the years, his beauty brand Jeffree Star Cosmetics already launched a series of vegan products like Thirsty, a vegan eyeshadow palette, and, more recently, the four festive vegan lip scrubs.
We'll see whether these business plans will turn out to be something more substantial than a Youtube announcement.
Meanwhile, we can't help but gladly notice that plant-based burgers and veganism at large are gaining momentum across different audiences.
If we want to save our planet and ourselves from climate apocalypse, we need new policies and governmental action. We're not gonna save the Earth changing our household light bulbs.
Extinction Rebellion – a burgeoning social movement to fight climate change that is taking hold in the United Kingdom – is asking for just this: governments must tell the truth about the ecological emergency and enact legally binding measures to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.
There are no other ways out of this mess: structural change is needed.
However, this doesn’t mean that as individual citizens we can go on a carbon spree without consequences. Or that all the ways to reduce our personal carbon footprints are equally ineffective.
Different studies highlight that there are four effective ways to cut on your individual carbon emissions. And no, changing light bulbs is not one of them.
While we should keep asking for top-down changes, it’s also good to remember that we can start making an impact on the environment right now by adapting our lifestyle.
1) Eat a plant-based diet
I enjoy the flavour of meat a lot and I’d find it difficult to go 100 percent vegetarian (let alone vegan) right now. Nevertheless, I can considerably decrease my meat consumption. This is already highly beneficial for the environment.
Moreover, I can advocate for meat alternatives like plant-based or clean meat.
2) Avoid air travel
Flights are a notorious source of gas emissions. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to avoid flying. Many jobs require travelling on a regular basis and even though in many cases a virtual meeting will do just fine, there are still some occasions in which your physical presence is needed.
How to solve this ethical dilemma? One solution might be to donate some money to carbon offsetting schemes. These projects can go a long way in fighting carbon emissions.
3) Live car-free
Research shows that living car-free saves about 2.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year (while a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year).
I’m lucky enough to live in the Netherlands, a country where it's easy to move around without a car. This is possible thanks to an efficient public transportation system and the omnipresent cycle lanes.
In this case, it’s interesting to notice how my personal decision to live car-free is supported by environmentally friendly public policies.
4) Have a small family
If someone doesn’t exist, she doesn’t have a carbon footprint. This reasoning might seem at the same time cynical and stupidly obvious. But it’s also true.
According to Population Matters, having one fewer child is 25 more effective in cutting carbon emissions than living without a car.
What else could I do to reduce my carbon footprint?
Support Cool Earth, a highly effective organization that we thoroughly vetted.
Cool Earth is not only an offset scheme. It provides grant funding to rainforest communities, supporting community work in rainforest protection and ensures their voice is heard in agreements about the future of the rainforests. At the time of writing, 234,436,540 tonnes of CO2 has been stored as a result of their projects. Their Asháninka project shields millions of acres of forest from loggers, with 901,679 acres saved to date.
You too can help to save our planet. A more liveable Earth is just a click away 👇
It’s known that many celebrities support noble causes. After all, if you’re a celeb, you supposedly got the visibility and the money. So, you’re particularly well-suited to help other people.
Some VIPs go the extra mile and found their own charitable organization.
But are these celebrity-powered charities effective? Or even: are they doing any good?
To answer these questions, we picked five charities founded by celebrities and ran them through our Kinder Vetting Framework. Let’s see what came out.
Our selection of charities below isn't based on any scientific criteria. We browsed lists of celebrity founded charities and tried to pick out a balanced list
These are the charities that we picked:
The Lopez Family Foundation. Co-founded by journalist Lynda Lopez and her sister singer Jennifer Lopez, the Lopez Family Foundation “advocates and invests in policies and programs that make a positive, measurable impact on communities and makes quality healthcare and health education available for underserved mothers and their children.”
Born This Way Foundation. A charitable organization created in 2012 by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta “with the goal of creating a kinder and braver world” (we can’t help but sympathize with such aim).
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Created in 1998, the foundation was established with the mission of protecting the world’s last wild places.
The Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation was founded in 2003 by Angelina Jolie as a “conservation and community development program in the Samlout Protected Area” (Cambodia).
The Kinder Vetting Framework
At Kinder, we developed a vetting framework to assess the performance of charitable organizations. At the moment, it’s made of two steps but we’re working to add another two in the near future.
The first step is called Initial Screening. With it, we examine the transparency and accountability of charitable organizations by evaluating their official websites.
In particular, we evaluate the charities on five parameters.
This is a fairly low initial threshold. To pass the Initial Screening, you need a score of 95.
The second step is called Organizational Competence. With it, we try to determine whether a charitable organization is competent and well-suited to solve the problems it’s addressing.
If an organization fails the Initial Screening, we usually don’t vet it on its Organizational Competence. Our aim in the next months is to start reaching out to all the organizations that fail the Initial Screening, share our results with them, and ask if they’re willing to improve their score.
So, to start with, we just wanted to see whether the five celebrity-run charities passed the Initial Screening.
I asked our in-house research team to have a look. This is the screenshot that they shared with me:
Again, to pass the Initial Screening you need to score at least 95. None of them did.
Quite discouraged, I read the notes the research team attached to the screenshot.
All charities with the exception of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation lack relevant information about their strategic plans. At the same time, DiCaprio’s organization needs to improve on other parameters like publishing its financial statements.
The Born This Way Foundation’s website was deemed “quite minimalist” by the research team, lacking information about key staff members and financial statements. Similarly, the Lopez Family Foundation should expand its website to include financial statements, strategic plans, relevant information about key staff members, and contact information (they don’t even have a contact form).
Obviously, the fact these five charities don’t pass the Initial Screening doesn’t mean that they’re inherently inefficient. It just suggests that they should work more on their online transparency and accountability.
In general, Kinder is not in the business of bashing charities and we would never share an organization’s poor results without discussing them with the relevant stakeholders beforehand. In this case, we made an exception since these five charities are exceptionally well-backed.
And if you’re Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey, or Angelina Jolie and want to improve the Initial Screening score of your foundation don’t hesitate to drop us a line at email@example.com
Header Image: The Wolf of Wall Street © Paramount Pictures