Melanie Bender, founding president of Versed Skincare — the clean, vegan line — is unifying the beauty industry in partnership with Call4Climate to help fight climate change.
In 45 days, she’s worked to get 100 brands — 115 to date — to commit to the cause, CodeRed4Climate, in an open letter to Congress. The group is urging consumers to call their Congressional representatives and, among other requests, ask them to support the Clean Electricity Payment Program, direct 40 percent of funding to frontline communities and end subsidies for fossil fuel corporations. All brands will change their profile photos to red today in support, as well as shut down their e-commerce sites for the day.
“I’m not going to lie, it has really surpassed my expectations,” Bender said. “I have a meeting with the White House to talk about what we’re doing and see if there’s an opportunity for them to be involved. I’ve had meetings with members of Congress, and we’ll continue to have more….We need the federal government to act. There is no way that we can reach the Paris [Climate Change] Agreement goals without the federal government stepping out and taking the lead.”
A child of marine biologists, she grew up in Kailua, Hawaii, where she took an early interest in climate change, she explained.
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“I did my thesis studying the impacts of climate on coral reefs in Hawaii, and from there, I moved into a career in sustainable development,” Bender said.
“We’ve known about global warming for 30 years now,” she continued. “To me, what really led to taking this big swing right now is with this latest [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report. I started to hear people talking about climate change in a way that I never had before. It had risen to the front, risen to the center, just because of how crystal clear the language was that this is a code red for humanity.”
Youth to the People cofounder and chief executive officer Joe Cloyes was the first to join the movement.
“We’ve taken the unprecedented step of building a broad coalition of brands across beauty because action toward slowing global warming and avoiding climate breakdown has never been more urgent,” Cloyes told WWD in an exclusive statement. “This is our call to action. As an industry, we must reduce emissions and energy consumption to protect our planet and all people.”
Milk Makeup was next to sign up. “And when Sephora became aware of it, they started calling their brands,” Bender went on. “Brands started recruiting other folks….I know that we have 13 million people reached through our digital channels every month. If I can get 1 percent of people to pick up the phone and make a call for lawmakers, that matters. Now if I can get 100 other brands with the same reach to do that, that matters. That was really the genesis for it.”
Those interested in learning more are invited to visit Codered4climate.org for more information.
“We make it really easy through Call4Climate,” Bender said. “There’s an automated phone system where you put in your zip code, and it connects you with your four representatives in Congress. We also provide an easy script outlining” what to ask.