Recognize Ethical Designers with a Habitat Protection Award from PETA

April 2, 2015
<p>This month, Grace urges PETA and designers to take one step further in partnership and stewardship.</p>

Did you know that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has an annual award for fashion designers who created human alternatives to leather and fur? What a great idea, encouraging good behavior instead of shaming bad. They also have an award called the Proggy Award that encourages animal-friendly research and development.

(The Kaitlin Utility Jacket in Waxed Canvas lined in Polartec by Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart)

I am thrilled to see an ethical fashion designer like Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart win for her beautiful and innovative contributions to a cruelty-free fashion industry. It delights me to see new inventions like the electronic bomb-sniffing technology developed by the University of California to replace dogs.

Each action and invention brings us closer to a more ethical society and culture, ensuring all animals are treated with the respect they deserve.  

It got me thinking about the possibility of another category for PETA to consider for next year’s prizes: habitat protection.

By far the biggest threat humans and all other animals face is the destruction of habitat. Simply put our insatiable demand for materials from nature is killing more animals and endangering more species than any other human cause. Even global warming cannot compete in terms of the speed of destruction and violence to living beings.

Half of all species of plants and animals on the planet come from the rain forests and there are only three equatorial rainforests left on the planet. 

(Harvard University Professor Edward O. Wilson)

One of my personal and professional heroes is Harvard University Professor Edward O. Wilson. Since the publication of his "Crisis of Biological Diversity" 29 years ago he has identified that we need to fundamentally change the way we do everything. Yes, EVERYTHING. 

This is why I think designers have such a crucial role to play in saving the planet.

From the homes we live in to the furniture we use, the clothes we wear, and the media we consume, we are engaged in a world filtered by design and designers. We need to understand our power to influence this change.

Would it influence a designer to know that they were saving countless miles of forest by specifying ‘fake’ flooring instead of ‘natural’ wood flooring? Trees would remain standing and habitats of animals – large, small, and microscopic – left undisturbed.

Do you think a designer would think twice about specifying a superior performing man-made material and saving a habitat? Of course not. It is a question of education and encouragement.

That is why I think PETA Habitat Protection Proggy Award for Design should be considered. It would encourage engineers, architects, designers, and artists to rethink the true value of man-made and how it can benefit us all. 

PETA has proven it can encourage corporations to transform their barbaric treatment of animals. It has a proven education and encouragement mechanism for positive change. I urge the organization to consider a PETA Habitat Protection Proggy Award for Design 2015 and beyond.

For additional information, check out the following resources:

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/edward_o_wilson_the_loss_of_biodiversity_is_a_tragedy/#.VIboDNKsXE0

http://www.peta.org/features/2014-vegan-fashion-awards/

http://www.peta.org/media/

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