Pharrell x Vogue.com Interview (2017), Talks Living Sustainably & Why The Kids Will Save Us All
When the New York Times examined the current state of the Paris Agreement over the weekend, China was mentioned as being ahead of its emissions “peak.” This is a good thing, as the country’s once presumed insatiable appetite for fossil fuels has plateaued, slightly. On the other hand, China still burns more coal than anyone else. Less still equals more: It made for food for thought in Shanghai, where one of Vogue’s December cover stars, Pharrell Williams, sat down on Monday to discuss his personal views on climate change attentiveness and what he does (and what we can do) “so that a little amounts to a lot.”
Williams was in Shanghai for a partnership with Louis XIII, the high-end Cognac label, to perform a one-off song called “100 Years” (this is how long it takes to make a bottle of Louis XIII, fittingly—the company needs to think in terms of centennials). The track was recorded on a clay disc—a clay disc that is destroyable only by water. It will be placed off-limits for one century in coastal France. The point being: If sea levels rise, the record dissolves, and no one will hear it again.
Williams has long made eco-friendliness central to his messaging. Prior examples include a green collaboration with the denim company G-Star (denim manufacturing generally has a large carbon footprint) and his Los Angeles home, which is consciously built with locally sourced materials. But he wants to stress that the main point is, really, mindfulness and alertness—and that every little bit counts. “I want to be really clear that I am not a tree hugger. I think it’s important that every human being—from the most eco-aware person to someone that’s driving a diesel truck—always has a sense of terrestrial awareness. That’s what it boils down to.”
In Williams’s own life, those decisions are a hybrid result of cognizance and necessity—for him, adhering to a 100 percent green rubric would not work. Professional demands may mean taking a private jet or a large motorcade from place to place. It’s in the domicile, the family space—and “family is the most important thing”—where he’s enacted a most active practice of late. Part of his Los Angeles home is solar-powered; in Miami, ostensible ground zero for an American city battling climate change (streets in Miami Beach are physically being elevated to combat rising tides), any construction he may do (he’s currently on the hunt) will, for the majority, “use recycled materials, recycled stone, and recycled steel.”
What will get us over the finish line—what will stem the surge—says Williams, is the new generation. “They don’t need to hear it as much as the old folks. These kids don’t feel there’s a necessity to own a car—they’ll Uber or they’ll Lyft. They don’t feel like they have to have a big house on the hill—they will Airbnb. They were born into a shared space. The older generation was sold the American dream that was like, ‘Okay, you have to own a house, you have to have two cars, you need the picket fence.
That was a marketing scheme. Kids now are like, ‘those are your rules.’ They have a different appreciation of how to treat the world. They think about things in a very different way. It’s this: Don’t try to live up to a super high standard, but be aware. Be aware of how you can contribute. That’s how we’ll realistically get it done.” And, even though he rarely drives, he does have one other idea on his mind. “A Rolls-Royce is one of the smoothest rides ever. That’s my thing. They should hurry up and make a hybrid.”
Common sense cr**p surrendering to the minimum overlap to bridge to M.O.R. in order to stay relevant. That´s too little nowadays.