Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Green is good

We are good people. We drink soy, not milk, because we want to save the planet from cows and soy is natural and therefore good. And importing soy helps little people in poor countries (here is a chart showing New Zealand's soy production by year).  So we drink soy in our coffee,  even if it is genetically modified and uses lots of energy to produce. Besides, who really needs forests, or Paraguay? But can we do more to make our lives sustainable? Yes we can:
If sustainability is going to mean anything, it has to mean business. Chris Morrison knows this, and has made it a reality by playing an instrumental role in the creation of Pheonix Organics, All Good Bananas, the Kokako coffee roasting and café company, the Clean Planet eco-cleaning company and, his latest venture, with Nice Blocks Fairtrade ice blocks.
Rly? Yes, rly. Our planet has been completely stuffed up by over-production and consumerism but there is hope: entrepreneurs will save us, but only if we help them by buying their products. Yes, it is that simple. We don't have to stop buying things we do not need, like soda and ice blocks. We just have to buy the right soda and ice blocks. And then everything will be just fine.

Also, go to the gym: "Health is an important aspect of sustainability. You can’t keep much of anything going without it, and a healthy attitude to our own bodies leads us logically into looking after the well-being of the environment around us." I think we all know someone who has become an altruist and an environmentalist after a few sessions at the gym, don't we? Philip Mills, gym bunny wrangler,  has explored the connections between personal and global wellbeing. And this is what he found:
It is an absolute no-brainer. The future of the world is going to be defined by scarcity and more and more affluent people competing for resources. The opportunities are going to be massive for sustainable energy and New Zealand has lots of core competency in those areas.
See what he did there? He found a way to make money out of misery.  ¡Zumba! Yes, New Zealand can pump above its weight on a world gym floor by exploiting scarcity and affluence. Millions of people all over the world will be going to his gyms as the water rises around them. Many more people, of course, will have no need to go to the gym because they will be starving to death. But there is certain to be business advantages to be found even there, so long as they can afford to pay. They probably can't afford anything, what with their homes and livelihoods being destroyed; but if sustainability is going to mean anything, it has to mean business.

And, in this hour of need for our planet, let's not forget fashion:
An artist and ethical fashion designer, Miranda Brown incorporates sustainability as a core value in her eponymous brand. Committed to principles and practices such as ‘cradle to cradle’ and quadruple bottom line, Miranda’s nature-inspired artwork includes fashion, interiors, art commissions and public art.
See, you can carry on indulging yourself.  You can buy a t-shirt and free the sea. It's a campaign, you see. You buy a $55 t-shirt that makes you feel better about being affluent and $5 goes to a good cause, leaving $50 to cover Miranda's overheads and pay the people in Bali who make the shirts (there is probably a perfectly good reason why the shirts cannot be made in New Zealand - probably a fair wage here would be a lot more than one in Bali, something like that). And let's not forget, silk worms are sustainable.

And remember, it is all about our pure advantage:
A successful business needs a competitive advantage. A successful country is no different.
New Zealand’s economic and environmental performance is sliding, and with it our single greatest opportunity to lead the world. It’s ours for the taking if we can improve our green credentials, foster our high value exports and build industries that will thrive in a rapidly changing global economy. We need to build a sustainable competitive advantage. Our Pure Advantage. Join a group of business leaders determined to deliver world-leading improvements to our economy, our environmental performance and the living standards of all New Zealanders. Green Growth for greater wealth.

So come on New Zealand! It's time to spend lots of money on ourselves and make lots of money from foreigners. And save on thinking by using fewer words more often: in this article, the word  passionate was used four times while sustainability and its variants were used twenty-six times. We are all passionate about sustainability aren't we? That's why we buy high-value products that provide added value. And that's why we love ecopreneurs.

You see, in today's brand-led economy, feeling is just as important as doing. You could decide that the sustainable thing to do would be to buy second-hand stuff and things made in New Zealand. You could decide to buy fewer things. But that wouldn't feel nice, would it? Because buying stuff, expensive stuff, is really all we have. Not buying stuff just does not feel nice. Fortunately, though, we can make an emotional offset. We buy things that make us feel we are doing good. We thus offset, emotionally, all the bad stuff we buy. A shirt with an indigenous-style image of an aquatic mammal is emotionally equivalent to all that tuna we ate every lunchtime last week. Even reading this article on a Monday is emotionally equivalent to the weekend of over-indulgence we have just enjoyed.

This way, we can cope.

Human League: