PROFILE #9 – The Extraordinary Vivien
Vivien, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. What defines you?
Well, for starters, hi everybody! And gosh, where to begin?
I was born in the northern region of Picardie, in France, and today I live in Paris, where I am Co-President of our association Les Climat’Optimistes. I studied environmental law in Auckland, New Zealand, and I have since worked in areas like ocean protection, the right to clean drinking water and sustainable development. On a personal level, I admit that I have a bit of a thing for very specific topics in the areas of health and the environment, such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals for instance (I know, it’s weird!)
So, tell us more about your association, Les Climat’Optimistes. Who are you and what do you do?
Les Climat’Optimistes is a youth movement we created after taking part in the major Climate March that took place in Paris in September 2018. At the time, then French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot called upon people to campaign for a better response to climate change and the threats faced by the biodiversity around us. We wanted to heed this call to action, and above all, we wanted to show that everyone can pull their weight. That green actions every day can go a very long way!
With that, we founded the association and we laid out our 4 key priorities in our mission statement:
1. Protecting Biodiversity by way of example – This comes in many forms. By making the effort to collect discarded waste for instance, or by wearing environmentally friendly clothing from a certain stylish brand (… oh, I think you know the one, they’re based in Roubaix! :D).
2. Stimulating Change – We want to convince our employers and universities to take action for the benefit of the environment in multiple ways. By offering meat-based options less frequently at the canteen for example, by stocking the vending machines with healthier products, or indeed, by offering organic fair-trade options for coffee breaks.
3. Youth Advocacy – I’m sure you’ve seen the number of Climate Strikes taking place all around the world at this stage. Generation Y is proactive and is hammering home its priorities for a healthier and more equitable future. This is the very reason we want to have our voice heard and promote our ideas!
4. Meet Changemakers – Our fourth priority is to show our gratitude to those making a difference and to offer encouragement to those who aren’t content to wait for the next 100 climate summits to go by before trying to make an impact.
And what has been the highlight for you so far?
Without a shadow of a doubt, the success of our waste clean-up operations! More and more people are reaching out to commend us on this, and crucially, an ever-increasing number of people want to take part!
We already know that plastic is everywhere. It is estimated that around 300 million tonnes of it are currently deposited in our oceans and this figure is growing, at a rate of around 1,500,000kg every two hours, to be precise. And yet, all this plastic waste is derived from our actions here on land. Every bit of plastic detritus, when carried by the wind, will end up in the ocean at some point or another.
And once it’s in the water, that plastic bottle left behind at a picnic on the banks of the Seine will seemingly blend into the aquatic environment that surrounds it. Leftover balloons and plastic bags will likely be mistaken for marine life, and water-based creatures will end up ingesting them.
So, in a bid to prevent this wherever possible, we’ve decided to go out every month and collect the rubbish that others have left behind, which may otherwise end up embedded in the natural environment. By doing so, we make a tangible effort to protect biodiversity.
And you can too! So, don’t hesitate to reach out and join us for our next outing!
How about we do a Cilla Black-style ‘Blind Date’ quiz on you personally?
Sure! Let’s do it!
If you were an animal, which animal would you be?
A whale! It’s the most emblematic of marine mammals, the very symbol of biodiversity itself and a creature in desperate need of protection. #SaveTheWhales
If you were a great voyager, where would you go?
The South Pacific. I was lucky enough to live in New Zealand and I think it’s an immensely beautiful country. There is a cultural richness, as well as a kindness and benevolence to the people, not to mention breathtaking scenery in abundance (and maybe even “One Ring to rule them all”!).
If you were a river, a sea or an ocean, which would you be?
The Pacific Ocean… even if the Atlantic Ocean will always hold a special place in my heart because of my Breton connection.
What does La Gentle Factory mean to you?
It’s my favourite clothing brand, for one! I’m the type of person who always checks out the label when buying a new item of clothing, and I absolutely loved it when I came across your first jacket made from organic cotton. I’d never seen such a thing! Finally, I felt that I’d found a brand that embodied the values and convictions that resonated with me. By committing to organic cotton, non-toxic dyeing processes and fair practises and commitments, not to mention producing your wares here in France, you certainly found a fan in me!
At Les Climat’Optimistes, we share the same vision. We believe it is up to each and every one of us, at our own individual level, to make minor changes every day that can go a very long way! By offering an environmentally conscious clothing range made in France, you show us that it’s possible to change things in the fashion and textiles sector, and above all, that it’s possible to adopt forward-thinking solutions today that will be picked up and further developed tomorrow! For this, we absolutely wanted to say, “Thank you for taking environmental concerns head-on and with optimism!”
The overarching theme for our summer collection this year is that of water. What do you do to safeguard this vital resource in your own daily routine?
Water is at the heart of our daily lives. It’s in the food we eat, it’s part of our daily needs and it’s an essential part of our hygiene routine. It’s truly everywhere. Without water, nothing is possible. Everything comes from water, and it’s where everything ends up, sooner or later. That’s one of the reasons we believe the work of La Gentle Factory should be recognised, because opting for organic cotton and environmentally friendly dyeing processes is a godsend when it comes to preserving water quality.
On a personal level, I tend to use homemade cleaning products wherever I can. I eat organic food, I use environmentally friendly soaps and detergents, I try to avoid hygiene products that contain hormone disruptors and I basically try to avoid any products that contaminate the water I use. Likewise, I try not to consume excessive quantities of water and I avoid products that are excessively packaged with harmful plastic, while also limiting my meat consumption where I can.
What comes next for Les Climat’Optimistes? And how do you see the future?
I’m a firm believer in “every little helps”! When there are 60 million of us pitching in, I believe we can achieve great things. At Les Climat’Optimistes, we would like to see millions getting out there and showing everyone else that green actions every day can go a very long way!
In the meantime, you can always follow us on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts! There you’ll see the various activities we get involved in to raise awareness and tackle environmental issues at our own level. You never know, you just might be interested!