This time of year provides clarity to what is important in life. I have a four year old son (four and half…he would insist). Seeing his excitement over the presents under the tree, visiting Santa, enjoying all the decorations and the delicious sweets, hearing the seasonal sounds, and sensing the magical charm during this time of year definitely makes me remember the simple joys in life. At four (and a half), my son is watching us closely, clearly starting to formulate ideas on how holidays—and life—should be run in our household. We have a pull-out trashcan with dividers (regular trash and recyclables), which he is always opening the trash to make sure mommy and daddy placed the right items in the correct trashcan. He loves to let us know when we’ve made a mistake. We call him the recycling patrol! And with all the holiday card envelopes and mailing boxes we’re receiving right now, he’s on extra high alert.
We’ve all heard stories about the foolish rich guy who blew his fortune on outlandish cars, homes and yachts. They usually follow a predictable path: He experiences a windfall of cash, spends beyond his means and inevitably plummets into bankruptcy.
This story is being played out on the biggest stage of all: Planet Earth. On the whole, humanity is currently on a natural resource spending binge. At the same time, more than a billion people go to bed hungry every night. Until we balance these inequities, we’ll all suffer the consequences – from the price we pay for food to access to clean water.
Being green in our material world can be exhasuting. Our global economic engine runs on consumer spending. But the more we spend, the more we consume, the more our planet struggles to sustain itself. If we continue gobbling up resources at the current rate, by 2030 we will need the equivalent of two planets to maintain life as we know it.
Reconciling this conundrum may seem impossible. But fear not my material friends, balance can be achieved.
There’s a good chance that you’ve bought into a black market of illegal products. But this is not a blogpost about a massive, global conspiracy by corporations to defraud consumers. It’s about our collective obliviousness to the growing prevalence of illegal products in our lives, and the consequences of the status quo.
Ostensibly a product that was harvested or traded illegally looks and functions the same as a legal one. But a deeper look reveals the hidden costs of illegal products. There are economic and national security implications. Local communities and endangered species are robbed of their homes. Companies and their customers are complicit in breaking the law.
We can no longer claim ignorance and look the other way. Modern information technology equips us with tools to solve the problem.
Oxford, England, the historical town along the River Thames is currently teeming with really smart ideas. Nearly 1,000 “social entrepreneurs” gather each year for the Skoll World Forum, to challenge the status quo and collaborate on solutions to world’s pressing challenges.
Among this intelligentsia is my colleague Jason Clay who’s participating on the Sustainable Sourcing: The Business Imperative panel session on Friday. The panelists will tackle, among other topics, “the role certification can play in creating value for all players in the supply chain.”