LONDON — While many high-profile events usually feature a plush red carpet, Sunday’s Earthshot Prize ceremony featured a green one — and those who walked it were instructed to “consider the environment” when selecting their outfits.
Britain’s Prince William, who founded the environmental prize after becoming disheartened by what he perceived as lackluster efforts to combat climate change, arrived wearing a green velvet suit jacket he had worn at an event in 2019, along with a pair of 20-year-old trousers.
The eco-friendly attire was apropos as guests gathered to watch this year’s winners scoop up 1 million pounds ($1.4 million) for their solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
In the United Kingdom, around $192 million worth of clothes are sent to landfill sites each week, according to British broadcaster ITV.
Scientists concerned about the climate say the fashion industry — with many brands under fire for churning out cheap clothes to meet high demand — has its own part to play when it comes to protecting the planet and have called on it to strive toward more sustainable goals. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the fashion sector uses more energy than aviation and shipping combined, accounting for roughly 10 percent of global carbon emissions, and almost 20 percent of wastewater.
The older outfits seemed to wow the British tabloids, which declared that the prince, who is second in line to the British throne, was “channeling James Bond,” as did many others on social media who branded the 39-year-old “dapper.”
William arrived alongside wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who donned a pastel-colored Alexander McQueen gown that she wore in Los Angeles at the BAFTAs about 10 years ago.
The two were chauffeured to the ceremony in a fully electric Audi, which operates without emitting carbon dioxide. According to the Daily Mail, the couple recently installed an electric-car charging point at their home in Kensington Palace.
Actor Emma Watson, who has long campaigned on environmental issues, arrived wearing an outfit created from 10 secondhand bridal dresses that had been donated to British charity Oxfam.
“How spectacular is this gown,” Oxfam tweeted Monday, confirming that the activist’s outfit was “made by Harris Reed from pre-loved wedding dresses.”
The Earthshot event came as other senior members of the royal family called on world leaders and the general public to do more to tackle the issue of climate change.
The royals have, on many occasions, come under scrutiny for their use of private aircraft and their lavish lifestyles — which critics say contradict their public appeals to look after the planet.
In an interview with the BBC last week, the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, discussed the personal measures he takes to try to protect the planet, revealing that his Aston Martin sports car runs on wine and cheese byproducts.
When asked how much energy it required to heat a royal residence such as Clarence House, the prince said he had installed solar panels to help generate electricity.
In the same week, Queen Elizabeth II was overheard expressing frustration that politicians around the world “talk” but “don’t do” on the issue of climate change — remarks that were widely interpreted as the monarch showing a degree of irritation that she still did not know who would be attending the COP26 climate conference in Scotland later this month.