Clover Hogan, 21, is a climate activist looking to change the world — and mind-sets.
“We support students in 52 countries to shift from crippling anxiety about the climate crisis to real agency,” she said of her youth nonprofit Force of Nature, founded in 2019.
“We work with an enabling ecosystem of decision makers across business policy and education to ensure that those who have historically been left out of decision-making spaces have that seat at the table,” she continued, in conversation with Jenny B. Fine, executive editor of beauty at WWD and Beauty Inc.
Hogan was just 11 years old when she felt eco-anxiety — the term used to describe the angst experienced after learning of the human-created environmental damage on earth, destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife.
“I had discovered the world of documentaries, and suddenly, the rug was pulled out from beneath me as I realized how quickly we were destroying the planet and how quickly we were destroying ourselves,” she said. It created a feeling of anxiety, grief, frustration, anger and powerlessness, she added.
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Immersed in nature at a young age, while growing up in Australia’s North Queensland, Hogan was particularly struck by the lack of urgency in global action to help solve the problem.
“I was filled with those difficult emotions around interpreting what was happening in the world around me and, for the first time, learning about these huge existential problems,” she said. “Eco-anxiety is increasingly affecting young people from all corners of the world.”
In a study surveying 500 young people, between their mid-teens and mid-20s, 70 percent said that “climate change negatively contributed to their mental health,” according to Hogan. Another 70 percent said they felt “hopeless” facing the climate crisis, and only 26 percent noted that they felt they knew how to make a meaningful difference.
Hogan has been taking action to change the world’s passive view and insufficient action on the matter by uniting a network of youths and activists with CEOs and decision makers.
“What our work is based on is this intergenerational exchange, bringing together the energy of youth with the knowledge of experience and supporting young people to occupy those spaces, to be in those previously historically closed-door rooms, also constructively disrupt the mind-sets within the room,” she said. “It gets us out of these silos that we otherwise remain in, so that leaders have an opportunity to connect with a radically different viewpoint and perspective.”
She works across industries, and when it comes to beauty, she said the number-one environmental issue remains the use of virgin plastic. Beauty produces over 120 billion units of packaging globally every year and very little of it is recycled, Hogan said.
For real change to occur, companies must start by being transparent about the ingredients used to create and produce products and their sourcing processes, from “an environment and social humanitarian perspective,” she said, adding that small, disruptive companies are “incredible catalysts” for change, compared to giants who have “complex supply chains and value chains and a whole heap of bureaucracy, where single ingredient changes can historically take years to happen.”
Beauty must ensure “that precious ecosystems are not lost and that the people responsible for creating products are also not being exploited,” she said.
“None of us as individuals are responsible for solving the climate crisis,” she added. “It’s outside of our control. But what we are responsible for is the thing that is inside of our control, and that’s our mind-set.”