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Inspiration for Illustration’s ‘1% for the Planet’

Illustration’s MD Harry Lyon-Smith turns from pale green to deep green while going round the world and explains why he has decided to donate 1% of the agency’s turnover to planting millions of trees...

“I should begin by saying that the irony of writing about safeguarding our environment whilst on a two-year motorcycle journey around the world has not escaped me. That said, my travels have enabled me to witness disturbing goings-on that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. (…) What began to dawn on me was that wherever I went, man’s impact on his beautiful, robust yet fragile home was very apparent.

As the miles climbed so the joined-up scale of this environmental impact gripped me; the expansion of cities and towns, the massive road systems being built, burgeoning industries, aeroplanes constantly overhead, forests giving way to farmland. What chance did nature have against such demands and consumption by her premier species? It was in Guatemala, with something like 30,000 miles on the clock, that these troubled thoughts, and particularly the overt deforestation going on in Central America, that I started wondering if there was something that Illustration Ltd could do to help nature and her fight for survival.

Finding a real way to help is a challenge in itself. Inspiration finally came from “Let My People Go Surfing” by Yvon Chouinard of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia (…) In the book Chouinard describes how as a company they had to accept being party to environmentally damaging practices and how they elected to dedicate 1% of their revenue to invest in projects that enable nature to thrive. In December 2012 my colleagues and I decided to donate 1% of our turnover to reforestation, aiming to plant 1 million trees every five years.

To achieve our aim we have partnered with WeForest who offer practicable solutions that can potentially claw back nature into her own hands, whilst benefiting and restoring local communities and weather. WeForest aims to plant 2 trillion trees, which is designed to help restore Earth’s temperatures to what nature naturally dictates. Let me be clear that not for one moment do I advocate anyone around the world not having the same opportunities that we enjoy in more developed countries.

It is the great challenge of our era to learn to work in balance with nature so that all of us can have more in terms of energy sources, mass and individual transport, healthy lifestyles, healthy foods and healthy communities. I think this means evolving from our more nature-consuming ways and I hope that what Illustration has done will inform and inspire other companies to do what they can.”

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