By Kelly Zwicker
This week, Fashion for Conservation (FFC) is featuring U.K actress and animal rights activist Carla Fraser, for her unique contribution to conservation efforts especially through film creation. She is passionate specifically about rhino and elephant conservation, and strives to keep creating new and fresh content that engages new people for the cause.
Carla wrote a short film “Grey Future,” which discusses a future where rhinos and elephants don’t exist. Carla aimed to instill an urgency in the audience about the importance of saving these species. “I wanted to create a film to push people to act,” she says, and she did. She made this film on Go Fund Me donations, up to 2,000 pounds in total.
Carla, as a young girl, grew up having toy elephants and rhinos. She grew up drawing pictures of her favorite animals, just like millions of children around the world. The film addresses the point that children growing up in the Western world see these species in books and toys, as opposed to children in Africa that can see them in their backyard.
Stuffed animals represent something larger here; children in the future may not see another elephant or rhino in a zoo, or on the discovery channel. A stuffed animal elephant or rhino could soon represent an extinct species. How do we explain to children how we watched this happen? “They’ll be our next dinosaurs,” Carla claims.
Carla also believes that grouping rhinos and elephants together in campaigns will aid in their conservation efforts, given people often forget that rhinos are estimated at only seven more years on this earth, and elephants are estimated at twenty. The fact of the matter is that the general population may not be aware of the urgency of the issue; that the extinction of these species’ will really be that quick. This is the mindset we need to adjust, and push for quicker action.
A film that inspired Carla’s ongoing involvement in conservation is called “Killing for Profit,” an exposé about the brutal poaching and trafficking of rhinos. A brave journalist, Julian Rademeyer, went undercover and risked his life to show the world that wildlife trading needs to be stopped. For another example, in Vietnam, ivory is used for a variety of purposes, one of the most common being a cancer drug or a hangover cure. It has become a “trend,” like something trends in the beauty or fashion industry, and it has increased demand for ivory dramatically.
Below are pictures from the 'Action for Elephants' protest outside parliament, London in 2017 on the day of CITES.
A supporting argument is that ivory is not traditional to Vietnamese culture, so there is no “need” to make it such a staple in the market. And the consequences for elephants and rhinos are severe. Carla’s “Grey Future” additionally aims to stop the idea that ivory is a “sexy” or “elite” purchase, because it has evolved to be just that. These species suffer and die for the selling of ivory, simply for a trend.
Despite how much progress needs to be done with global biodiversity, Carla remains positive for the future. “I do believe we’ll see change in our lifetime. For example, China has shut down their ivory trade. Of course there are other issues, but in terms of ivory trade, I think we’ll get there.”
The key here is to not lose hope or assume the situation is out of our hands. We must play to our strengths and use our roles in society and in the entertainment industry to evoke change, to inspire people to participate.
We need more individuals like Carla Fraser to use their voices in society to make a positive difference for the species on this earth.
“One day we’ll be in our rocking chairs and be happy to know we saved these species. And it will all pay off.”
Carla took an instant liking to Fashion for Conservation’s (FFC) initiatives and mission, and is happy to be a part of our future campaigning. FFC is constantly reaching out to individuals and organizations to help spread the message, thanks to our modern technology and resources. “That is the beauty of social media,” Carla claims, “People being passionate about the same thing, we can link up.”
Carla received the invitation to come to London Fashion Week this past September with FFC’s show. She was immediately drawn to the idea, because of how fresh and unique the combination of fashion and conservation is, and what that combination can accomplish in the future. “People can get a bit lost in the colors and pattern of fashion,” she says, “paving new ways towards sustainable fashion is essential. Fashion for Conservation is up with the big players.”
Events, such as London Fashion Week, can so often host a very specific type of demographic. However, in September, with more people actually engaging in the meaning behind the clothes, we can progress towards expanding the demographic we host at these International must-attend shows. The wider the demographic, the larger the reach. And we need all the reach we can get.
Carla believes in pushing boundaries to extend our voice in sustainable fashion, and additionally educating as many people as we can on the many alternatives to fashion we can take that are environmentally friendly. When asked about the massive consumerism within the fashion industry, Carla admitted how much she has learned since reading about FFC’s sustainable design materials. “FFC has been the very thing that has educated me on fashion and open-mindedness for sustainable possibilities.”
What if other fashion lines follow suit? What if designers start working solely with sustainable fabrics? What if sustainable fashion can really launch an international trend? This future is possible if we use our voices, as larger groups. These massive industries are capable of change.
We are already seeing change on many platforms, especially on social media. For instance, the vegan movement has taken off. As opposed to considering being vegan a trend, it has become a dedicated lifestyle for millions of people. People are promoting the benefits of and making it ‘attractive’. Models, actors, artists, and bloggers are proudly stating their vegan diets, as doing their part to support the environment and reducing the amount of animals slaughtered for meat in the agricultural industry. “The openness will really help us, Carla says, “that’s what makes me proud of this generation.”
There is a beauty and power in the act of unison. We can come together and evoke change.
Carla believes in the effect of a group formed first by dedicated individuals. “People power does matter. Every voice does matter. They have to listen. Change is absolutely possible.”
It was an absolute pleasure speaking with Carla about her contributions to elephant and rhino conservation, and she plans to continue using her voice to educate new people to understand the impending extinction of these species with continued inaction. As a rhino ambassador for IAPWA and film maker, Carla wishes to continue finding creatives ways to get people to listen and find compassion in this matter.
Stay tuned for more features of incredible individuals in future posts, both domestic and international!