On Tuesday, over 100 beauty brands will push their consumers to pick up the phone and call their federal representatives in support of federal climate change policies.
The call to action is called CodeRed4Climate and occurs during Climate Change Week, a grassroots national event to encourage action and provide education about the climate change crisis. Through the participating brands, which include Versed, Youth to the People, Nécessaire and Uoma Beauty, the call to action will reach over 50 million social media followers. The participating brands are all hitting pause on their social media platforms on September 21 to advocate for solutions to the growing climate crisis. In lieu of usual marketing communications, they’re posting an open letter to Congress across their social media channels and on their website. It will indicate their support for lawmaker action on the climate and stating their own pledges of continued climate action.
“We’ve known about climate change for [more than] 20 years, and we’ve known what is coming; the science on it hasn’t changed. But what has changed in the last year is the awareness of it and the desire to change our [climate change] destiny,” said Melanie Bender, Versed president, who spearheaded CodeRed4Climate and developed the campaign in less than two months. “There are so many solutions out there, and the most important solution is not what I do or what Versed does. It’s about collective action that tilts our system toward [federal] policies that are needed.”
Pausing marketing messaging and collectively using social media to make a statement has become a more frequent tactic since June 2020, when thousands of brands and social media users took to Instagram to publish black squares in support of Black Lives Matter, though not always without criticism. In the case of CodeRed4Climate, the blackout also is a call to action for consumers that directs them to join the brands in calling their representatives to urge for new climate policy. Key focus areas include ending government subsidies for fossil fuel corporations and advocating for the Clean Electricity Payment Program.
The CEPP penalizes utility companies for using fossil fuel-based energy and encourages their adoption of low-emission sources like solar, wind and hydro energy. On Wednesday, CEPP was approved by The House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of Congress’s budget reconciliation package. However, the future of CEPP still remains uncertain.
The impacts of the global climate change crisis have been felt for years, but developing economies and smaller countries have borne the brunt of its devastating effects. But 2021 has acutely put into perspective that the wealth of developed countries cannot cocoon themselves from climate change. Frequent and more powerful hurricanes and wildfires are occurring within the U.S. Meanwhile, wildfires have ravaged Greece, and massive floods shocked German and Chinese populaces this summer.
CodeRed4Climate was developed in partnership with Call4Climate, a project of nonprofit media lab Fossil Free Media that creates easy ways for constituents to call their representatives in support of climate action. The collective action of brands has become a larger sustainability theme in 2021, as the cross-pollination of information and resources has replaced traditional competitive secrecy.
“We are here to use our business, resources and voice to shed light on what we believe to be the No.1 environmental issue of our time. The CodeRed4Climate is a tremendous testament to the strength of the beauty and personal care community,” said Randi Christiansen, Nécessaire CEO and co-founder.
CodeRed4Climate also spotlights that — no matter the self-regulating standards brands and companies place on themselves, and the updates to eco-friendly packaging — these actions are dwarfed by the lack of federal oversight and environmental commitments.
“There are few things that have as universal an impact on every last person as climate change does. Taking climate action has existential significance,” said Alicia Yoon, Peach & LiIy founder and CEO. “I love that the beauty industry is coming together to spotlight an issue that unfortunately doesn’t go away simply because we ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist.”
In addition to ceasing all marketing communications, on September 21, Peach & Lily’s homepage will be taken over by CodeRed4Climate. Several brands, including Versed, Nécessaire and Youth To The People, are also shutting down their e-commerce sites for the day. Deciem did this in Nov. 2020 to protest against the excess of Black Friday shopping.
“It sends a very powerful message, [when we are] willing to stop what we’re doing for the day, put our businesses and teams on pause, and shift gears to focus on something that is of greater need,” said Bender. “We want to call people [to action,] rather than calling them out.”