Crickey! That’s the title of my talk at this year’s SHE Show North West and I suggested it back in the glorious days of May off the back of a cracking SHE Show South. I was there on a wave of optimism and positivity.
Today? Hmmm…It’s cloudy, a bit of Autumnal feel in the air and that slight melancholy that I get at the end of the Summer, another year done. That usual optimism is lacking a bit and to be truthful it all feels a bit of a challenge. Even writing this short article.
But whoa! Hang on a minute. Let’s just count my blessings. Life is good. I’m probably going for a surf later today and if not then definitely tomorrow and the weekend looks great. Physically and metaphorically the clouds will peel back and the sun will shine. All will be good.
And I think that is in many ways the approach we need to take on the massive challenges facing us, and the planet. It can sometimes feel a bit daunting and too much to take on. Can we really rise to that challenge, will we…? You bet we can!
Just a quick bit on the scale of the problems:
Bioregional research shows that if all seven billion inhabitants of planet earth wanted to live like the average citizen of the USA we would need 5 planets, or the average European it would be 3 planets. Climate change and the massive change in population is delivering us right into the perfect storm scenario.
Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that we therefore need some radical changes in how we operate as individuals, businesses and governments. We need a bit of revolution. We had the industrial revolution, we’ve had the technological one and an assortment of political ones across the spectrum. Now we need a behavioural and cultural one. For want of a better word a spiritual planetary revolution.
We need to all be playing our part for the Planet Earth and Oceans Revolution team. Just like a successful company, football team or whatever there needs to be a shared and understood vision, some great leadership and a whole heap of passion and drive.
Of course on a global level this will mean that not only will all individuals need to play their role but also Governments and really importantly public organisations and businesses.
Mass consumerism on the current model simply doesn’t work and it ultimately doesn’t really make us happy. (Surveys of people in palliative care show no one ever regrets not having had more possessions. Happiness and contentment come from being connected to our world and those around us). Yet currently the majority of the population is hooked right into the advertising agencies models that keep us coming back for more. Built in obsolescence and ever changing fashions are often just tools to relieve us of our cash.
However all is not lost. For some time there has been a slow, steady undercurrent of people and companies doing good things. Currently there is a new wave of businesess starting to break through. A bit like CSR but with a fresh 21st century feel. The B-Corps movement is one leading example.
“B Corp Certification is to business as Fair Trade is to coffee”
The Circular Economy, first written about back in the sixties, but now being championed by the likes of Ellen MacArthur and “businesses with a purpose” are others. Now don’t get me wrong, profit isn’t a dirty but the days of just making money and stuff the people and the environment are hopefully on the wane.
In the 21st Century many companies understand that they need to operate in a way that looks after the Triple Bottom Line. This concept takes into consideration the social and environmental as well as the financial bottom line. Another phrase often used is People, Planet Profit but they mean the same thing.
This was something a small team of us pushed through at the Eden Project. The example we always used was the Great Dishwasher Debate that looked at the social, environmental and financial impacts of switching from disposable single use plates and cutlery to metal cutlery and china crockery. When we’d done the analysis the decision was easy: Switching to reusable and having a giant washing machine resulted in these headlines:
Social Bottom Line: 2 new jobs, customers had a nicer cup of tea and could put salad on their plates (the old cardboard plates were too wobbly).
Environmental Bottom Line: We reduced our landfill by 7 tonnes a year, we reduced the carbon footprint of the manufacture and transportation of all of those disposables.
Financial Bottom Line: We sold more cups of tea and more salad and after all additional costs of energy etc. had been taken into account, saved Eden Project £185k over 5 years.
It was a no-brainer and one that management (including the financial director!) were happy to embrace. We then ran workshops across the breadth and depth of the team to embed this thinking deep into the project. It was one of the few things that it was compulsory to attend and we did them with passion and fun encouraging everyone to take on their responsibility for the good of the whole project.
That is just one example of how we can work in harmony, how the revolution can take place and how business can be good for the planet and how the planet and its people are essential for business. That old adage: “There is no business on a dead planet” is always worth bearing in mind.
I look forward to seeing you at the SHE Show North West and talking more about this amazing planet and how we can all help shape the future.
PS – It’s nearly low tide so I’m either going surfing or walking on the beach, and yes….the sun is just coming out and I’ve finished the article!
Written by Chris Hines MBE Hon.D.SC. A Grain of Sand.
Should you wish to hear more from Chris, book your place today at The SHE Show North West, Tuesday 24th September 2019, Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United Football Club
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Please note, the views expressed by the original article author are theirs alone and do not necessarily represent those of Washingtondowling Associates Ltd or The SHE Show and therefore we take no responsibility for the content or accuracy of this post.