We are absolutely pillaging this planet.
That’s not fair on all of us because there are many who read this that do a whole lot to make their own environmental impacts as small as possible and their social impacts as big as possible, but the unfortunate truth is that we are in the significant minority.
Not such a small minority as it once was, there is without doubt more and more people awakening to the functions of the planet and its perilous state but if nothing else, ‘The Vid’ has shown to me just how removed from the real world so many people remain.
As we rebuild out of this time and take stock on what really matters in life (new shoes to go with your new ripped jeans, the latest smartphone, followers on social media sites, and the opinion of people who you don’t really like…#sarcasm), we have an enormous opportunity and an enormous responsibility.
Whatever path we take from here as a society will be reflected on by all those who come after us.
Every year on March 25th we have a national holiday to remember the actions taken by our grandparents, and great grandparents in the world wars (and others) to steer our future, our today, into one that is peaceful, free and unified (I often wonder what they would say if they could see the world now.) We just had to spend a month inside. Will our grandchildren and great-grandchildren remember us with the same awe and respect for how we responded to the collapse of the natural environment (the real world), the 6th mass extinction, mind-blowing levels of wealth disparity, and a global pandemic?
I think it’s a really fair point when there are those in NZ who say – why bother making an effort to restore our environment, reduce our emissions, and make changes to our lifestyles when other countries far bigger, and far more impactful than ours aren’t doing it.
Whether other countries are making the efforts required or not (achieving their Paris Agreement commitments is a great way to score them, and the bad news is not many are on track to deliver them), shouldn’t matter what we do here. We can’t control what other nations choose to do.
We can’t ride their wave, but we can show them how to surf.
Don’t make it so hard for yourself. Work with the ocean, don’t fight against it. Some days will be better than others but the more you do it the better you’ll get. And once you’ve learnt how, teach someone else.
New Zealand’s opportunity here is to focus on what we can control, to use our problem-solving expertise, our ingenuity, and our collaborative approach to lead the positive change. Be the positive example others can follow. If we do this, there will be huge opportunities to take our learnings to the world.
Besides, as an individual, you don’t need to worry about what the rest of the world is doing. You just need to make sure you are making your little corner of the world, your community, better than you found it.
It’s a great motto to life I always try and follow – leave a place better than you found it.
If you aren’t doing that you should try it. See how it feels.
So as we move on from COVID (understanding we still have a long way to go), we have some decisions to make. We have some bigger, more one-off decisions to make and then we have many everyday decisions to make again and again.
I’m talking about the multiple votes you cast every day. The decisions on who you give your money to. How you spend your hard-earned wages.
Coming out of COVID, it’s even more important who you choose to give your money to, who you choose to buy products and services from. Will you keep buying from those business people who register their businesses in tax havens, who exploit others, and who destroy ecosystems? Or will you give your money to the local business people who support your community, pay taxes, pay wages that allow people to progress, and take responsibility for their environmental impacts?
Are you willing to pay more for that? Or do you always have to buy the cheapest so you have more money to buy more crap to throw into a landfill? How many of the presents you were bought for Christmas do you still have? How many of the ones you bought for others do they still have?
Are you willing to pay more to get your jeans repaired rather than chucking them into a hole in the ground and buying a new pair? Are you willing to take the time to deliver your dead electronics to a specialist recycling store to reduce the need for more precious ores to be mined and more ecosystems to be destroyed, or will you just throw them into your kerbside recycling bin that will send it to landfill to waste, or to pollute someone else’s community?
Image from www.earthtouchnews.com
Are you willing to wait longer for your meal knowing it was made with locally grown, in-season ingredients, by someone who is paid enough that they don’t need to work another job, or are you in that much of a hurry that you can’t get out of your car?
Consulting to businesses on sustainability I am fortunate enough to see how many amazing people there are who make up businesses that are making huge efforts to create that regenerative, circular, inclusive world. But they are often up against those huge conglomerates that have made zillions from following the exploitative, linear, neo-liberalist economic system for the past few decades.
For us to make this economic evolution we all have to play our part. Governments need to write the laws, businesses need to change their operations and models, and customers need to support those businesses.
So I ask you, as we recover from The Vid, to please think about who you are giving your money to. Think carefully about what business people you support and who you reject. Your decisions matter.
And a final question, are you willing to donate your time? Do you only do things for pay? Or could you plant trees, clean a beach, or pack school lunches for kids who would otherwise go without, just because it’s helping others?
Good luck out there. Do your best, be kind to others, support your community, and leave a place better than you found it.
Founder / Director
Go Well Consulting