dear will.i.am, it could have been absolutely fabulous (it still could)

What happens when the Queen of Shwopping meets the King of Upcycling? Well, let’s just say it was a bit of a missed opportunity.

A BBC1 documentary last week followed the exploits of actress Joanna Lumley as she hung out with musician Will.i.am for a few days in his home town of Los Angeles. It was a programme many commentators rated as bizarre and I guess to the naked eye, you could call it an unlikely encounter of sorts.

But, think on. These two celebrities share a very meaningful values thread. They both push at the envelope of behaviour change. They not only embrace greener lifestyle choices, but work with a couple of pretty heavyweight brands to influence the mainstream on issues around recycling, reuse and waste prevention.

Joanna Lumley’s endorsement of Marks & Spencer’s Shwopping initiative has been nothing short of remarkable. The actress has been keen to maintain her interest and keep tabs on the retailer, recently she visited Senegal to find out what happens to these clothing donations. Will.i.am meanwhile has launched his own clothing and accessories brand Ekocycle in partnership with Coca-Cola, featuring items made by upcycling waste plastics and aluminium.

Delve even deeper and you’ll discover that Will.i.am is a staunch supporter of cradle-to-cradle principles – he claims to have followed them for more than 30 years. He has paid tribute to one of the leading architects in this field, William McDonough, where he was quoted as saying “healthy design is a human right”.

Given this, it was a shame that the documentary only touched upon this mutual respect and understanding between both artists of how sustainability relates to material use. There was one revealing moment during the programme where Will.i.am showed Joanna Lumley a transformative upcycling journey, from water bottle to cotton thread. She turned to him and said: “This is one of the most extraordinary sidelines for someone who is a rock idol.”

Now if those few televised seconds, those intersections, could be taken and stretched and explored more deeply … we really might have something rather fabulous on our hands. Rock on.

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