Generous APE

By Hugo Empson, founder of Generous APE.

6th September 2021

Over the weekend I headed out to the Extinction Rebellion March in London, to see what the front line of environmental activism in the UK looks and feels like.

It's safe to say there was a stark contrast between the casual shoppers and the procession which suddenly parted the crowd with the roar of drums, banners and chants. The atmosphere was epic and the turn out for the march was vast. People of all ages came out in full force, in amazing costumes and banner designs.  

From my observation  the vast amount of protest was against fossil fuel, financial and political hierarchy, with much of the venom directed toward the energy industry and the governments approach to implicating the required policies needed to ensure the future of our planet.

For all the news we hear about Extinction Rebellion, we might have an assumption that these marches escalate and get out of hand as there have been reports of over 500 arrests. However ,scratch a little deeper and it gets far more interesting.

It may seem utter madness to outsiders looking in to read about doctors, medics and nurses who had to be forcefully removed from the pavement outside JP Morgan (worlds largest funder of oil, gas and coal) in Canary Wharf. However put some perspective on the situation. These are the NHS nurses who have carried our nation through the COVID pandemic, the same NHS staff we clapped every evening and who had sacrificed everything to protect and support us all.   Now they see it as their duty to make a stand for not only our country and its people, but for the planet as well.

So next time you jump to the assumption that these protests and marches are just a bunch of hippies, think again. Whether you're the shopper on the street, banker in the office above or a protestor outside the banks doors, we are all just people that have one planet to share.

The truth of the matter is climate change is very real.  The facts and science don't lie. So who is in fact mad, the activist, campaigning & protesting against truth.....Or is it the bystander, watching and doing nothing.My other take away observation was on my walk down Oxford Street I passed four packed Zara stores in the space of a mile, with 2 more stores on regent street. I also passed two Primark stores between Tottenham court road and Marble Arch, also completely full of shoppers.

What I find so ironic is that the crowd who are simply going about their weekend, shopping on the UK's most iconic retail high street, are so blissfully unaware. 

The carrier bags they all proudly carried are some of the biggest offenders to Environmental impact. The global impact of the retail industry, in my eyes, is still the silent killer of our planet - the global fashion industry being the fourth most polluting industry.

Watching the people come out of the stores, they stopped took photos and engaged with the crowds of the march.who were wielding their banners of climate change awareness. I couldn't find one banner that pointed the finger at retailers environmental damage to the planet.  I was surprised and disappointed.

My career has been dedicated to the counterculture to fast fashion, to inspire, innovate and educate people to change their shopping habits in order to lower their  carbon & waste footprint. My experience over the weekend made one thing more apparent, Generous APE needs to do whatever we can to get this message out.


In my opinion people often overlook or disregard movements such as Extinction Rebellion, but I can safely say, it was a moving experience. The sooner people realise it is a crisis of humanity and not the planet, the better. The planet has proved throughout history that it can recover and life can return. The fact of the matter is if we keep treating our planet at our current rate, the damage will be irreversible for the human race.