One day last spring, early in the days of COVID-19 social distancing, YouTube recommended to me a video produced by educational channel The School of Life, discussing Albert Camus’ 1947 novel The Plague. The tale of a contagious disease which suddenly ravages a town on the coast of Algeria, the book’s timeliness is of course inarguable—and not just relating to pandemics.
“Camus was not writing about one plague in particular … [he] was drawn to his theme because, in his philosophy, we are all—unbeknownst to us—already living through a plague: that is a widespread, silent, invisible disease that may kill any of us at any time and destroy the lives we assumed were solid,” says narrator Alain de Botton. Being alive, the video goes on to say, is, at its core, the ultimate pre-existing condition.
It is perhaps in the face of death that one begins to think even more about life—and how to spend your time on this planet doing, and feeling, the best you can. In this, our wellness and sustanability issue, we take a look at the ways companies and consumers are “doing well” for themselves, each other and the greater good.
This includes reducing the carbon footprint, making the planet hospitable for future generations of flora and fauna alike, which companies are achieving through processes such a waste upcycling (page 48) and supercritical fluid extraction (page 54). Similarly, consumers are seeking products that help keep themselves and the earth in good health, such as clean cleaning products (page 42) and sustainable, healthy natural sweeteners (page 36).
Also in this issue, we investigate that feel-good ingredient—CBD—taking a look at how it, among several other trends, is a key driver in the wellness economy (page 24), and take a deep dive into who, specifically, is purchasing it (page 30).
The novel The Plauge ends (spoiler alert!) with the disease receding around a year after its emergence; while the townspeople rejoice, one of the novel’s lead characters contemplates how, given what we know of diseases, it is simply lying in wait—in something as mundane as a handkerchief or a cellar—for the opportunity to cast its shadow over some other town. So, all we can do is live our fullest, best lives while we are here—and to keep this in mind with or without a global pandemic.
After all, the ending of a plague or pandemic does not mean life can, or should, return to the way it was before; rather, it can be seen as an opportunity to expedite positive change. So let’s put on our masks, roll up our sleeves and commit to making the world a better place, for today and tomorrow.
D. Eden Stuart
Associate Managing Editor