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Matt Crossick

The Queen of Punk Tells Archbishop of Canterbury to Ban Fracking

By Yosola Olorunshola

Whether it's through fashion or protest, Vivienne Westwood is not a woman afraid of making a statement.

On May 23, she rocked up to the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London with a special guest—the Grim Reaper—to issue a strong statement on the Church of England's position on fracking.


The Queen of Punk delivered a report, Whitehall's Fracking Science Failure, which criticizes the Church of England for declaring fracking "morally acceptable," and for its apparent support of the government's stance on the fracking industry.

Fracking is the technique used to extract gas from shale rock by injecting water at high pressure. In October 2016, the government controversially overturned objections to a fracking proposal in Lancashire, and gave the go-ahead for energy company Cuadrilla to explore the potential of fracking in the local area.

Opponents to fracking argue that the process can contaminate water supplies, damage the countryside, trigger Earth tremors and that fundamentally, it perpetuates a dependence on fossil fuels at a time when the world needs to switch to renewable energy.

"Fracking kills, and it poisons the whole land," Westwood told Global Citizen. "The majority of people in England are against fracking."

According to a YouGov poll from October 2016 , she's right. Fracking is deeply unpopular in the UK. Only 37.3 percent of those polled supported shale gas extraction.

Still, the government argues that fracking can be delivered safely and that emissions from shale gas would be lower than coal if conducted within official regulations.

The report delivered by Westwood, on behalf of Talk Fracking, challenges the government's research, stating that it contained outdated evidence that underestimated potential methane emissions.

"The position that fracking is cleaner than coal and can help us bridge to a renewable energy future whilst helping us reach our climate change reduction targets is a complete falsehood," the report says, calling for a complete moratorium on fracking in England. Both Scotland and Wales have declared a moratorium on fracking due to concerns about its negative environmental and health consequences.

As the Church owns swathes of land across the country, Westwood warned of its responsibility to prevent environmental degradation. In 2015, the Church of England decided to divest from the two most polluting fossil fuels—thermal coal and tar sands. Yet its recent decision to "tentatively back" fracking has left many disappointed.

Appearing alongside the Grim Reaper is a dark symbol, but one that captures Westwood's daring spirit—a rebellious attitude that extends from her eye for unconventional frocks on the catwalk to her outspoken defense of the planet and its inhabitants. As well as fighting fracking in the UK, she is a longstanding supporter of Cool Earth, which works with indigenous peoples to halt rainforest destruction.

"We have to save the world from climate change," she said. While campaigning at a political level, Westwood also believes individuals can take immediate practical action to start a climate change revolution from within their own homes.

"In all my time as an activist, I explain the problem and people say what can we do. It's the first time I've found an answer. Switch to green energy. That's something you can do. It will completely undermine the rotten financial system that we've got. It will really bring in the green economy. The green economy will save us. The green economy is the only chance we've got of a paradise."

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Earth Day Tips From the EcoWatch Team

At EcoWatch, every day is Earth Day. We don't just report news about the environment—we aim to make the world a better place through our own actions. From conserving water to cutting waste, here are some tips and tricks from our team on living mindfully and sustainably.

Lorraine Chow, reporter

Favorite Product: Dr. Bronner's Castile soap

It's Earth-friendly, lasts for months and can be used as soap, shampoo, all-purpose cleaner and even mouthwash (but I wouldn't recommend that).

Essential Tool: Blender

It has paid for itself in homemade smoothies, soups, sauces and dips. It also means I don't have to buy those individual foods in unnecessary plastic containers. Blending scraps helps your compost, too!

Earth Day Tip: Skip the straw

If you feel weird about saying "no straw" at restaurants, just tell the waiter that you're allergic to plastic.

Olivia Rosane, reporter

Favorite Product: Seventh Generation products

Their household cleaning and personal care products are a great way to take care of yourself and your home in a way that is safe both for your health and the planet. Plus, their packaging is made from recycled materials and is designed to be recycled again.

Essential Tool: My portable thermos

I bring it with me when I order coffee or tea to go. That way I don't have to use paper cups, which are not actually recyclable, and some coffee shops even offer me a discount for bringing my own container!

Earth Day Tip: Get involved

In 2012, researcher Brad Werner ran a computer model and found our best shot at combating climate change was for people to form a mass social movement to demand it. So if you're worried about the environment, reach out to other people in your community and talk about what you can do together to make a difference!

Tara Bracco, managing editor

Favorite Product: Collapsible water bottle

Whether you're traveling or running errands, a reusable water bottle that's light and compact will help keep you hydrated and keep you from buying bottled water.

Essential Tool: Backpack

It's great for carrying your groceries home from the store, and you won't have to use plastic bags. If you have a long shopping list, try a rolling suitcase.

Earth Day Tip: Don't waste water

Turn off the water while you brush your teeth. It can save eight gallons of water a day!

Chris McDermott, news editor

Favorite Product: Clothes from Patagonia

Patagonia makes a wide range of inspired products and their environmental policies are world class. They use only organic cotton in their clothes, and they even offer trade-ins, recycling and repairs at any time.

Essential Tool: RIVER mobile power station and solar generator

This powerful piece of mind is always ready regardless of storms and travel, for as long as one can tap the sun.

Earth Day Tip: Savor something vegan

There's no nutritional substitute for fresh, unprocessed food, but food science has revolutionized the taste and texture of vegan alternatives. For the pure delight of it, celebrate with Miyoko's Kitchen vegan cheese, Tofurky Italian sausage (30 grams of protein per serving!) and SoDelicious non-dairy dark chocolate truffle frozen dessert made with cashew milk.

Irma Omerhodzic, associate editor

Favorite Product: Living Libations's Everybody Loves the Sunshine

Unlike sunscreen, this skin product works with the sun and helps absorb the nutrients from the sun's rays while giving skin protection at the same time.

"Rather than being afraid of the sun, harmonize with it," Living Libations says. Love it!

Essential Tool: My bike

Not only is this an emission-free way to get around town, but it also gives my body the activity it needs.

Earth Day Tip: Start small

Your one "small" action isn't small at all.

Jordan Simmons, social media coordinator

Favorite Product: Sustainable clothing by Amanda Sage Collection

Designer Lana Gurevich uses patterns from Amanda's transformative paintings to create an ethically and environmentally conscious clothing line. While supporting local businesses and an eco-friendly printing method, the fabrics are made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.

Essential Tool: My paintbrush and set of mineral paints

I found the all natural, biodegradable mineral paints at a local farmers' market in the Sacred Valley of Peru. I used to favor working with acrylic paints until I learned about their high carbon footprint and harmful substances.

Earth Day Tip: Honor Mother Earth

Gather some of Mother Nature's gifts such as stones, beautiful dried leaves and feathers. Set them in a special place in your home to create a unique "altar" to remind you to honor your Mother each and every day. Find peace and blessings in loving our home—the earth.

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