who cares

The increasingly aware, and health conscious consumer is changing the way we do business. Emerging is a new kind of society sometimes referred to as: "Conscious Consumers", "Solution Seekers", “Ethical Shoppers" and LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability)

Not necessarily ‘green’ - but smart, ethical, values based consumers who desire environmental and social sustainability. Demanding goods that are ethically sourced, sustainably produced, free of toxins and having reduced impact on the environment, and avoiding buying a product or service because of its packaging, environmental or social concerns.

Now representing approx 30% of our population - this group is growing fast. According to resent research, nearly 50% of global consumers would give up all convenience packaging if it would benefit the environment.

Research group Euro barometer March 2010 said 75% of respondents would consider purchasing environmentally friendly products when food shopping.

Statistics like these are driving change, and economic goals are shifting from growth at any cost without regard to the environment, health, and other people or future generations, to sustainability with measures like ‘Triple Top and/or Bottom Line Reporting,’ where a company has three measures of accountability; financial, environmental and social reporting.

“Only if business learns that to do well it has to do good can we hope to face the major social challenges facing developed societies today.” Professor Peter Drucker, 1984

Ecosystems in nature are perfect examples of closed loop perpetual systems. ‘Industrial ecology’ means designing industrial infrastructures, as if they were ecosystems - yet human-made interfacing with natural global ecosystems, a conceptual framework for business.

The current market and business have four fundamental weaknesses.

1. Failing to incorporate into prices the indirect costs of providing resources.

2. Undervaluing nature's services.

3. Disrespecting the sustainable-yield thresholds of natural systems such as fisheries, forests, ecology and aquifers.

4. Not taking into account the cost to the environment of what is left, and what is waste.

An eco-economy on the other hand is sustainable as it satisfies our needs, without jeopardizing the prospects of future generations. An eco-economy relies on redesigned markets that tell the truth and makes sure that environmental deficits are accounted for.

Inevitably the inconvenience of change, the diminishing supplies and extra costs brings about resentment and conspiracy theorists. However, we have to think about how much our future generations will pay if we don’t change now. We are already beginning to pay by way of climate and storm damage, so called ‘natural’ disasters, oil price induced costs and wars, increasing food costs and water costs and shortages, insurance cost increases and financial market instability and losses, etc.

Options in terms of policy, law, institutional change, behavioral change and technology, are already available to sustainably manage global ecosystems. Apart from change ourselves; what is needed is political will, ethical business and educated leaders with values.

“Only by valuing all of our precious natural and human resources can we hope to build a sustainable future,”- Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations in a message launching the ‘The Millennium Reports.’

Many understand and are trying to improve waste and pollution problems but are still driven by consumerism and business growth, both focused on consuming more. It is almost impossible to deal with the ‘back end’ of the economy (the waste and pollution) while we are pouring stuff in at the ‘front end’. A fundamental change in the way we think would help!

All the ‘stuff’ in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most ‘stuff’ is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues. You may learn something, and if you have managed to read this far it will be sure to change the way you look at all the stuff in your life… The Story of Stuff.

Our entire way of life is built around growth being the only pursuit, but growth in a finite non-renewable resourced world can't continue forever, in fact most experts believe we have already exhausted our capacity to grow and are already arguing over and scrambling for greater shares of reducing capacity.

Tackling the underlying causes of the problems of our world is not easy, they are systemic. Climate change and crop failure are connected. Poverty and terrorism are connected. Injustice and violence are connected. Pirates and corporations are connected, the industrialisation of food and cancer is connected, monoculture farming and pestilence and disease is connected. The world functions as a system - to do more we need to vote with our heart, our wallet, and our feet.


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