In early December 2019, from near Batemans Bay, a close friend called me to say his property was about to burn down and started to talk about how he was going to defend against the reality of a 50ft wall of fire. As I started to freak out about his safety, his animals and beautiful fisherman's haven, the reality of what we have done to ourselves and continue to leave unchecked, hit me hard. If this summer is going to be our future, we have to do more to mitigate it getting even worse. I made a promise right then to myself to do more with the skills and resources I have. I thought for a long time that my contribution was to put my life and funds behind building Ekko Score. Something that finally gives all consumers a way to make more sustainable choices easily and eco business a means of promotion. But the reality is it's not enough alone. IN THE END, THE FACTS ARE THAT THE CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE ARE PERSONAL AND WILL AFFECT US ALL. NOT MATTER WHO YOU ARE, WHAT BRAND OF CLOTHES YOU WEAR, WHETHER YOU ARE ON ANY KIND OF 'BEST OF' LIST, OR HOW RICH OR POOR YOU. FIRE, WIND, WATER IMPACTS ALWAYS BECOME PERSONAL. EVENTUALLY.The truth is that one of my motivations for Ekko Score is the belief that if you can influence people of influence at home, then they will inevitably take that behaviour to work and into their workplace decision making as well. Most CEOs aren't homeless. They eat food; turn on taps, expecting water to come out; and fly around the world doing important things and meeting other important people. Of course it turns out that it's not so simple as calling the CEO out publically for having a house that's stupid big, wasting water and flying too much. Or any of us really. Most of us want running water, a big house and to fly across the world on a cheap flight every vacation. The thing is that the more we have to protect, the less interested we are in changing ourselves. Many people don't even think about the links among their own everyday actions and climate change. There is way too much inertia in our lives. Even as the country burns to the ground and we know in our hearts what caused it, we don't change. Well, we tell Scotty from Marketing to do something about it, but we don't really change anything in our own lives. And the same goes for business. Models for success are built on businesses behaving in a certain way and that's hard to change, especially when margins are thin and external influences are high. But that doesn't change the facts. We have to rethink and change what we can. And anything is better than nothing.
WE NEED TO REFRAME THE NARRATIVE AND HELP EACH OTHER TO DO IT. IN 2020, I HAVE COMMITTED TO BEING MORE HELPFUL (DIRECT) WITH LEADERS, COMMENTATORS AND ANYONE IN MY SPHERE OF INFLUENCE ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT THEY SAY AND WHAT THEY DO AND TO ASK THEM TO DO THE SAME FOR ME. SOMETIMES WE JUST NEED A HAND.
I was lucky enough to receive an excellent example of how difficult it is to be congruent with sustainability in business - and it's what happens to all of us, in our own ways, most days of the week - even the most good hearted, sustainable and considerate among us.This company has a spiritually aligned, responsible, middle class following and yesterday they sent out a very thoughtful mailer to their followers about the bushfires and it included some beautiful and impactful words, including these:
"THIS IS NOT A TIME FOR DENIAL, IT’S A TIME FOR CONFRONTING EVERY ACTION, EVERY DECISION WE MAKE ON A DAILY BASIS AND ASKING: IS THIS IN SERVICE TO MY ENVIRONMENT? IF NOT, HOW CAN IT BE?"
Such important messaging - and from people whose business it is to support collaboration, thoughtfulness and mindfulness. So I went to their website to read more. That's where things seemed normal enough, but when I started to look at the website through the lense of their message, it got a little confusing.The first thing I saw as I got to the site was a request for participation in a survey asking for feedback about what people would like to see more of on the site. That's good and inclusive, but then came the contradictory CU* carrot. For participating in the survey, you got to go into the draw for an amazing trip to a spiritual mecca on the other side of the world. A trip you would probably never do, but absolutely love to. The truth is that I was half way through checking out the incredible trip when I realised what I was doing.What was CU about the trip? Scroll up the page and reread that paragraph they wrote which lured me to the site in the first place. The reality of real responsibility is follow through. Not just talking about it. Not telling it. Not being mindful of it. But practising your own sermon. And changing. Really changing. THE QUESTION FOR ALL OF US IS, "WHAT ARE WE EACH REALLY ACTUALLY DOING? HONESTLY. BEYOND PUBLISHING BEAUTIFUL WORDS & SNAPS OF GOURMET SCRAPS ON SOCIAL MEDIA? OR HURLING ACCUSATIONS AT WATER STEALING INTERNATIONALS & MINING COMPANIES. OR ASKING SCOTTY FROM MARKETING TO ACKNOWLEDGE CLIMATE CHANGE."
So many of us are standing around telling everyone else how to behave better while not changing anything ourselves. Talking, publishing, telling others is not a substitute for our own actions. We need to do both as we are heading into uncharted waters with the impacts of climate change. In the case of this business, who were kind enough to provide such an excellent example, I can tell you that when we shared the observation with them, they responded immediately, acknowledged the problem and looked to more sustainable alternatives for the future. (And that surely is the point isn't it?)We all need to be more aware of how we consume. To literally think about it instead of being a mindless lemming. Things big and small - like the impact of eating commercial Californian almonds, new flour options, what's really in fake meat burgers, the real price of travel. Stop being pushed around by central marketing, opinion, status, mindless consumption.Attention is already shifting to more scrutiny of the balance of words and actions and it isn't just for those who choose to be in the public space with have broad influence, it's all of us. Every single one of us makes a difference. Let's make our decisions count for positive, proactive, mindful, actual, change.