WHAT IS CLUBHOUSE AND WHY IS IT SUDDENLY EVERYWHERE?
The latest must-have social networking app is called Clubhouse. It’s an iPhone-only app and it is described as a “new type of network based on voice”. It recently exploded in popularity after Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared on the app, by joining the Good Time show, to talk about Mars, memes, and becoming a multiplanet species.
Since it’s voice-only and doesn’t use your camera, Clubhouse hopes you won’t worry about “eye contact, what you’re wearing, or where you are”. It seems like a dream for all the people that want to do other things in the meantime, but looking just around the corner there is a trick: you have to be invited to join by an existing member. Real world elitism, but make it virtual.
HOW DOES CLUBHOUSE WORK?
In order to join, an existing Clubhouse user has to send an invite from their app giving you access to set up an account. If you are invited, you’ll see a link texted to your phone number, directing you to a sign-up page in the app.
Clubhouse users can’t just send an invite to anyone who wants to join, however. Existing users only have two invites available at first.
The conversation room is just like a conference call, but with some people on the call talking, and most listening in. And, just like a phone call, once the conversation is over, the room is closed. Unlike Twitch – where live streamed videos stay on the platform for people to return to and watch – the live audio-chats had in conversation rooms disappear.
When you join, you select topics of interest, like tech, books, business or health. The more information you give the app about your interests, the more conversation rooms and individuals the app will recommend you follow or join.
You can join the room by tapping on it – they’re all open for you to hop in or out. Clubhouse wants users to explore different conversations. You enter each room as an audience member. If you want to talk, you “raise your hand”, and then the speakers can choose to invite you up. Clubhouse rooms are often hosted by experts, celebrities, venture capitalists, journalists, and so on. You can also create a room of your own.
WHY WAS IT SO POPULAR IN CHINA?
While censorship, suppression and government control is rife in China, Clubhouse managed to fly under the radar of China’s firewall for several months, unlike other social media networks Instagram and Facebook.
It became very popular, attracting large numbers of Chinese users and giving them a rare chance to “binge free expression”, and engage in discussion on topics that are usually blocked on the mainland, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In other words, Chinese users, largely tech investors and professionals, are using the space to talk about topics that would otherwise be censored back home, such as democracy.”
As more attention has been recently drawn to sustainability issues, the fashion industry has come under the spotlight. The industry of fashion represents one of the largest consumer industries and yet it is heavily polluting, creating concern around its practices. Its negative impact on the planet is mainly caused by extensive water use, emissions, use of chemicals and generation and disposal of waste. The fast fashion industry, in particular, creates a lot of waste due to its business model characterized by quicker turnaround of styles, increased number of collections and lower prices.
During the event “The New Age of Fashion” that was held on the 17th of February organized by BSI and Green Light for Business, the topics of sustainable fashion and greenwashing were discussed. The presence of three guests made us understand better what sustainability in fashion really means and how sustainable brands are created and operate in the fashion sector.
Armadioverde – Francesco Minghini
The first guest was Francesco Minghini, head of Marketing and Sales for Europe at Armadioverde, the number one fashion recommerce in Italy. Armadioverde was founded in 2015 by two parents as a solution to the concern that their baby was growing faster than his clothes. They opened physical retail shops with the aim of swapping kids garments but they soon noticed that their business model was not scalable. They then transformed Armadioverde to an online platform, today present in Italy and France. The idea behind the fast-growing business is simple but effective. They collect clothes that are not used anymore free of charge and they separate those that are in optimal conditions, which are meant to be sold on their website, to those that are damaged, which are donated to ONG Humana. In exchange, they grant digital “stars”, which can be used to purchase other people’s second-hand clothes on their website.
Armadioverde is an example of a Circular Economy-based platform that provides an innovative, sustainable alternative that reduces the consumption and environmental impact of fast fashion. As a matter of fact, this industry generates excessive waste since a large amount of clothes is being disposed of before ever being worn out. Armadioverde provides a solution to close the loop and give a second life to used garments and therefore can be considered as an excellent example of business in the sustainable fashion industry.
Tina Logar Bauchmüller is the founder and designer of Mila.Vert, a fashion brand that produces timeless and sustainable women’s garments. Tina created the business in 2015 in Slovenia with the aim of making desirable clothing and avoiding the ethical and environmental issues that the fashion industry represents. Her brand is a symbol of empowerment, passion and kindness, which are the values embodied in both the design and production of clothes. As a matter of fact, Mila.Vert produces clothing in collaboration with two family-owned sewing companies and a knitting studio, all located in Slovenia. In this way, they ensure a transparent supply chain that guarantees both ethical and quality standards.
Tina has explained us that their design process is slow and intended to make timeless and quality clothes. They use environmentally friendly fabrics, and they have a limited supply chain. Some garments are partially handmade and all of them are made-to-order, which increases production times (5 to 15 days) but ensures a more sustainable approach to fashion. Other best practices of Mila.Vert include the use of organic cotton that reduces the usage of water, having a custom-fit production to customer’s measurements and producing 100% cruelty-free and PETA-approved clothes. Finally, she has expressed her will to use fabric leftovers to substitute plastic-based packaging.
Our last guest was Matteo Ward, Bocconi alumnus and co-founder of Wråd, an innovative start-up and design company dedicated to sustainable innovation and social change. Before co-founding Wråd, Matteo had experience in the world of fashion as District Manager at Abercrombie&Fitch. He is a sustainability advocate in the fashion industry: he is member of an advisory board at United Nations and member of Fashion Revolution Education team and Fashion Revolution Italy. Moreover, he is also a Ted and Keynote speaker.
Matteo has talked about greenwashing, which is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound. Greenwashing deceives consumers into thinking that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or that follow sustainable standards. Nowadays greenwashing has become common practice in many companies, and for this reason it is important to understand the red flags that indicate greenwashing. In particular, some signals might be vagueness in language and wording, having too many visuals that refer extremely to greenery, promoting lies and unsubstantiated environmental claims and trading off benefits against some other bad practices. Although improvements in sustainability in fashion, Matteo believes that there is still a long way to go until the fashion industry can finally claim the sustainability card.
As the long-used industrial model of “take, make and waste” based on linearity is no longer viable because of natural resources scarcity and increase in industrial waste, a new solution has to be found in the fashion industry. New models based on circularity have started to emerge and reusing and recycling garments is becoming a widespread practice. Moreover, consumers need to be reeducated to reduce consumption and source more ethical clothes. Fashion claims for a new age: the sustainable age.
5 Ideas for an Ecological and Ethical Christmas Shopping
With Christmas approaching, the season of holiday gifts has begun. Finding the perfect gift for everyone takes time and effort and usually it results in excess consumption. So why not buying sustainable gifts this year? Giving a thoughtful present while helping the environment and communities is possible. Before buying anything this year, try to ask yourself three fundamental questions.
1. Who made the product? Try to purchase from environmentally conscious companies that make sustainability one of their key pillars. Particularly this year, consider privileging small businesses to support them during difficult times.
2. Where is it produced/sold? Consider buying from local producers. Check where is the product shipped from and try to minimize transportation to reduce the carbon footprint.
3. What is the product made of? Materials and ingredients are very important. Choose recyclable and healthy products and try to avoid polluting materials such as plastic!
With these questions in mind, we have compiled a list of five ideas to have a sustainable Christmas.
1. Reusable Water Bottle
Reusable water bottles are a perfect gift for environmentally conscious people. They are cheaper, safer and more sustainable than disposable ones. With reusable bottles it is possible to decrease carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere, as well as landfill waste and ocean pollution. Try to privilege stainless steel or glass over plastic bottles, since they are BPA free and more durable. A valid option is purchasing from 24 Bottles, an Italian sustainability-driven company that sells zero emissions reusable bottles.
Be original and gift a tree this Christmas. Platforms like Treedom offer the possibility to gift trees to loved ones. Why is it a perfect gift? Planting trees has a positive impact on the environment; they filter the air we breathe, produce oxygen, and remove carbon and harmful particles from the atmosphere. Moreover, it’s unique and greatly appreciated.
4. Local Desserts
Every country or region has its Christmas specialty, and everyone loves desserts! If you live in Italy, consider gifting a panettone or any typical delicacy that your city has to offer. In this way you will help local businesses and support the production of healthier products.
5. Ethical and Durable Clothes
Sustainability in the fashion industry is a critical issue, so this Christmas try to avoid buying clothes or accessories from fast fashion companies. Before making a purchase, research companies’ values and choose the ones that believe in sustainability, like Patagonia or Toms. Always check the textile composition and privilege organic cotton and/or recycled fabrics. An alternative is buying vintage or upcycled clothes. The East Market in Milan has recently launched an online marketplace for its vintage finds.
This Christmas be kind to the planet and give back to your local community. And whatever gift you choose, don’t forget to wrap it with sustainable wrapping paper!
Disclaimer: all links provided in the article are not sponsored or affiliated with BSI in any way
On July 29th the leaders of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google (namely Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai) were summoned to Washington to testify at the US House of Representatives’ Antitrust Subcommittee. There, Democrats and Republicans confronted the executives for using their market power to crush competitors and to gain sky-high profits, data and customers.
The main goal of the hearing was to determine whether the companies have too much market power. To do so, the subcommittee members presented millions of documents, including some once private messages and emails of the CEOs, which highlight how the tech companies have become too big and powerful, how they threaten rivals, consumers and, in some cases, even democracy itself.
The heads of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google weren’t completely prepared for serious, on-topic questions about their operations. Let’s see more in detail which questions were asked to each CEO.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was accused of using data collected on the AppStore to see which are the most downloaded apps. After doing so, Apple creates a new app which is nearly identical and eventually, deletes the competitor app from the AppStore to get more downloads.
Among the several questions asked to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, the most relevant ones regard the manipulation of the research results on Google. Google is accused of showing Google’s partners’ websites as first results. Furthermore, Google was said to be guilty of stealing content from other websites. This is what happened with Yelp, whose restaurant reviews were ”stolen” from Google. As soon as Yelp complained, Google threatened to no longer show Yelp in its search results.
Sundar Pichai was also asked about the control that users have over the use of their information, given the fact that users have no choice in sharing their personal data, just like with Facebook.
The main allegation to Amazon is having so much market share (47% of US e-commerce) to force any seller to sell through its portal. Thanks to its power, Amazon can force small suppliers out of businesses by making similar products cheaper than they could. Bezos said that this behavior is against Amazon’s policy, but he also said he could not guarantee that the policy had not been violated.
Mark Zuckerberg was questioned about its apparent support of disinformation as a way to make money, but the main line of attack against Facebook was highlighting the wat it has bought rivals to secure market dominance, for example WhatsApp and Instagram.
The ultimate goal of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust is producing new antitrust legislation, which is obviously not good news for the tech giants. The hearing marked a significant milestone for the House’s investigation, but we are still far from the finale. The next step will probably be the Subcommittee’s final report, which will be released sometime in August or September.
Do you think Big Tech companies have become too powerful and should be broken up? Let us know in the comments.