Anna Roberds, Charles Walker & Grace Sieck
Introduction: Sustainability and Environmentalism
Like many members of our generation, we constantly worry about our future and how it will be impacted by climate change. As a result, we have become interested in living more sustainably, trying to reduce our personal carbon footprints, especially concerning the impact of our diets. The Earth has a finite supply of resources that we are consuming at a dramatically unsustainable rate to feed, clothe, and house ourselves (World Wildlife Fund). In 2017, the U.S. was ranked 42 in sustainability, out of 150 countries (Sachs). As a country that is so wealthy and developed, there should be more of an emphasis on reducing our environmental impact, as so much of our emissions come from the average American diet, which has a devastating impact on the environment. The livestock industry is the second leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and the leading cause of deforestation and water and air pollution (Climate Nexus). The United States’ population is rapidly increasing, creating a demand for food that is not achievable in terms of sustainability. In addition, the American diet lacks sustainability due to overconsumption and food waste, and over 60 million tons of food waste is produced in the U.S. each year (Morawicki, González). Our time left to make an effort to preserve the Earth is running out, and as a result, we will continue to suffer from increased natural disasters, such as wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts (NASA). Unless we all make an effort to live more sustainably, the Earth will no longer be viable to sustain human life.
Our project is an imaginative, digital magazine, or zine, centered on highlighting environmentalism and sustainability called ENVI Magazine. The imaginative zine we have created is a 20th anniversary edition that will be published in April 2040. The digital magazine medium and the anniversary format allowed us to engage with our project area in a fun and creative way.
Today, magazines can be used to get a picture of what’s important in our culture today. Celebrity gossip, sports, entertainment, and more are the focal points of several magazines and indicate these topics as culturally significant. By assuming that magazines will continue to serve as cultural snapshots far into the future, we can use ENVI to explore an alternate future where society and culture are centered around taking care of our environment. With ENVI, we can use everything from op-ed articles to advertisements to give readers a glimpse into our imagined future. Furthermore, the anniversary format allows us to fill in the gaps between 2020 and 2040 to show the reader where we might be in the future and how we can get there, too.
Becoming environmentally conscious can dramatically change the way of life for many people and not everyone can imagine making these changes in their lives. Additionally, while topics like climate change and sustainability have become more relevant in recent years, they are not as culturally significant as other topics listed earlier. With ENVI, we created an imagined alternative by simply shifting what is culturally significant. Imagining small changes to our culture and creating a world around it is important to show people that this future is not only possible but easy and painless to accomplish. Our goal is to inspire hope and spark imagination in our readers so they can see they have the power to make the world a better place.
The Nature Conservancy is a nonprofit organization, so they are focused on raising funds to conserve land and water around the World, and getting donations. But, they also have a magazine aspect and articles in it. We liked the work of The Nature Conservancy but wanted something that was geared towards a younger audience, which is why we chose to include quizzes and current celebrities. We also wanted ENVI’s articles to be very readable, which is why we used a casual tone in our articles.
The Natural History Magazine was a great resource to refer to during our project, but the website and magazine are definitely dated. Given that ENVI was set in the year 2040, we wanted something with very modern color schemes, designs, fonts, and techniques. We liked the content in this magazine, but we wanted ENVI to be a little more specific and focus on the environment and sustainability.
In Audubon, we liked the modern design concepts and large pictures that were used across this magazine. But similarly to The Nature Conservancy, this magazine and website were focused on generating donations to support their cause. Also, Audubon was almost specifically focused on birds and we wanted ENVI to be broader and focus on all aspects of sustainability.
Similar to some of the media listed above, Sustainability Chic was mainly focused on products and fashion for women. If future editions of our magazine referred to products and fashion, we would want it to fit all genders. But, Sustainability Chic’s website was very modern and was geared towards a younger audience, which is what we were trying to accomplish with ENVI. Sustainability Chic was also a blog, and we wanted ENVI to be more factual than that.
Going Zero Waste was probably one of our biggest inspirations in this project. We loved the color scheme and modern fonts they chose on their website. We also liked this topic because zero waste was something that we were all passionate about and wanted to include as a big part of ENVI. We liked that Going Zero Waste was geared towards a younger audience, which was shown through their tone and formatting. But, Going Zero Waste was a blog and we wanted to gear more towards factual, research-based articles.
The three of us all have an interest in protecting and sustaining our environment. As future communication media scholars, we wanted to see how we can contribute in our area of study and do our part. By evaluating our skills and our position in a completely remote workspace, we decided to create a digital magazine. We share a skill of writing and have common knowledge of popular culture and sustainable practices. We decided that a magazine would be the perfect medium to highlight our skills. Making our magazine digital not only helped us create remotely, but it also helped us imagine how our magazine of the future could be paperless and completely digital.
We held a few brainstorming sessions to come up with ideas on possible features of our magazine. During these brainstorming sessions, we came up with a lot of ideas and made final decisions on the content we would eventually create. We also made sure to have equal work amongst our group and created deadlines to hold ourselves accountable.
Because of our limited accessibility, we decided to use Canva to create the pages for our magazine. Canva is free, collaborative, and is easier to use than programs from the Adobe Suite. With a little extra work, Canva was a good program to help us realize our vision and it is almost indistinguishable from other professional design programs.
Our first draft only contained three articles to give an idea of the creative direction we wanted. With really good feedback from our peers on design choices and content adjustments, we were able to finalize our magazine and bring it all together. Because of our careful planning, we were able to dedicate more time to designing and rearranging our magazine to attain our vision.
By highlighting our skills, setting realistic goals, and having fun, we were able to create the product you see today.
By creating a magazine that focuses on a future that is built on sustainable living, we were able to imagine what sustainability could mean in the future, how life and consumerism could change, and what issues could be presented to oppose sustainability in the future. While living sustainably requires some lifestyle changes, it is becoming increasingly easier through innovative technology that creates viable alternatives and options. Through our magazine, we were also able to imagine how sustainability could be integrated into everyday life, as the magazine focuses on sustainable topics, products, and advertisements, but still discusses topics such as entertainment, consumerism, and celebrity gossip, emphasizing that sustainability is also the norm. This magazine serves to create an imagined world where we have embraced sustainability and how things have improved for us by doing so, while also emphasizing the ways being sustainable can become second nature, reducing the stigma of difficulty that surrounds sustainability. Ultimately, ENVI serves to propose an alternative to our current reality, in which our planet’s future and health are more stable and secure; and where the fears that surround us today involving climate change are becoming more manageable and we feel that our futures may be more secure and fair.
“Animal Agriculture’s Impact on Climate Change.” Climate Nexus, 10 May 2016, https://climatenexus.org/climate-issues/food/animal-agricultures-impact-on-climate-change/.
“Audubon.” Audubon, https://www.audubon.org/.
“Going Zero Waste.” Going Zero Waste, https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog.
Morawicki, Ruben O, and Delmy J Díaz González. “Food Sustainability in the Context of Human Behavior.” The Yale journal of biology and medicine vol. 91,2 191–196. 28 Jun. 2018
“Natural History.” Natural History Magazine, https://www.naturalhistorymag.com/.
“The Nature Conservancy.” Nature Conservancy Magazine, https://www.nature.org/en-us/magazine/?vu=r.v_magazine.
“Promoting Sustainable Living.” World Wildlife Fund, 2021, https://www.wwf.org.uk/ what-we-do/promoting-sustainable-living
“The Effects of Climate Change.” NASA, 2021, https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
Sachs, Jeffrey. “6 Ways America Can Get Back on Track with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” Columbia Climate School, 21 Sep. 2018, https://news .climate.columbia.edu/2018/09/21/america-sustainable-development-goals/
“Sustainably Chic.” Sustainably Chic, https://www.sustainably-chic.com/.
This work came out of the class Multimedia Production and Digital Culture (COM 367) in the Department of Communication at North Carolina State University in spring 2021. Check out other works from the class here:
Sara Trudan, Erin Migneco, & Clio Maxwell, UNNAMED Magazine https://crmaxwel.medium.com/unnamed-the-future-of-beauty-665b814b081c
Madison Callahan, Addy Holmes, & Logan Ray, Are You Getting This Mockumentary https://mhcallah.medium.com/are-you-getting-this-a221b2d11c78, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X13DKGCh4s
Parker Mitchell, Drew Hickland, and Maura Estes, NC Sta-y with the times https://www.instagram.com/nc.stay.with.the.times/ , https://ncstaywiththetimes.medium.com/nc-stay-with-the-times-e6becf9858c9
Ray Youman, Adam Suddarth, and Matt Norris, Movement of the Future: Piezoelectricity https://rcyouman.medium.com/movement-of-the-future-piezoelectricity-as-a-ubiquitous-energy-source-ead88f6edf4b