I have had a busy week!
For many Aussie fashionistas
this week has meant dashing between The Tent, The Box and The Theatre of
Mercedes-Benz Fashion W
eek whilst maintaining a perfect off-the-runway look - for me it's meant bouncing
from sustainability event to sustainability event (whilst maintaining my
Wednesday I had the
privilege of speaking to undergraduate students at the University of Sydney
about my career,
my book and leading a sustainable life in our consumption-driven society. At the end of my talk a student asked
if I felt optimistic about the future, because it seems to him that mainstream culture
might never get over its addiction to stuff. My answer?
I have wavered from time to time, as I suspect many environmentalists have, but these days I'm more optimistic than ever that we'll get the changes we need. When you see all
I’ve been up to this week you may understand why I’m feeling so hopeful.
Sunday afternoon - Environmental and Behaviour Change Book Club
What’s mine is yours – the rise of collaborative consumption
designed and manufactured Zoologie
cropped pants paired with vintage lace top
I’ve long been a fan
of Collaborative Consumption
(and even met the lovely, intelligent Rachel Botsman at Green Cities
this year) and was happy to discuss the book with some people
I hadn’t met before. It’s a model that will help us
transition into a lifestyle which consumes less new materials as we move to a culture of sharing, bartering and swapping, with the side benefit of connecting with other individuals. The book club members all agreed
that the concept is fabulous and offers the potential for real cultural
change. Even better, we can all visualise the real-world applications and immense opportunity for new businesses, all with the nice side-effect of being environmentally sustainable.
Monday night – City of
Sydney City Talk, Poverty Amid Plenty
raspberry dress from Hunter Gatherer
, vintage jumper from C's Flashback
cotton cable knit tights by Ambra
This event included a lot of discussion on sustainability, despite the title, and included a
keynote by Paul Gilding, former Greenpeace CEO and author of The Great Disruption.
I had the pleasure
of hearing Gilding speak last year at a 1 Million Women
event, and even got my book
signed by him – eco-groupie! He discussed how our current economic model based on
growth will end because we will reach a crisis point where there
will be no other way than to adapt.
He argues that we’ve missed something so basic in our current economic system,
and we’re ignoring it right now because it’s too scary to look at (ain’t that
the truth?) – infinite growth on a finite planet is illogical. We’re already using
1.5 planets’ worth of materials and resources, and things will only get worse
as population continues to rise and developing nations strive for higher
standards of living on par with developed nations and our spending habits. Gilding did offer his own optimism,
however, explaining that humans are inherently ‘good’, and when we look at
history we know that humans are excellent in crises; so when the reality
finally does hit, we’ll all act swiftly and effectively.
Gilding was following
by a panel of varied experts all proposing/working on innovative, sustainable solutions to the
problem of our current economic model, including:
The panelists all approached the problem from different perspectives, and didn’t
always agree with one another, but isn’t this how we’ll solve the complex problems of sustainability and poverty? We can’t work in isolation and expect to make a difference.
(Or be happy, as multiple panelists were keen to point out, connection is a key indicator of human happiness – more so than money!). I left feeling incredibly positive about the
future because the panel was just a snapshot of the many brilliant and
passionate minds attacking our problems from multiple directions – the tide is
Tuesday morning –
Conscious Capitalism breakfast
Co-founder of the
(CC) movement, and author of Firms of Endearment
, Raj Sisodia, spoke to a packed house of
business leaders about running successful businesses that put a focus on people
and society. The four basic tenets of the CC movement are:
- Higher purpose - profit is a by-product of having a clear and meaningful purpose.
- Stakeholder relationship model - making sure the needs of all stakeholders are met including staff, unions, suppliers, investors, community and the environment. It aims to create a win-win situation for all its stakeholders and puts humans back into business.
- Conscious leadership - where leaders care for and inspire their staff.
- Conscious culture - where the company's culture is based on: trust, authenticity, transparency, integrity, learning and empowerment.
Organisations leading this movement include Whole Foods
(its founder John Mackey is another co-founder of
CC), New Balance
, Southwest Airlines
(also an example of
the other CC, Collaborative Consumption), Chipotle Mexican Grill
and Panera Bread
Okay, these are not
all environmentally sustainable organisations, but it’s still reassuring to see
massive companies that actually care about employees, stakeholders and the community and not
just the financial bottom line.
I was fascinated to
learn that companies that operate as CC businesses financially outperform not
only the average company on the S&P index, but also the organisations highlighted
in Good to Great,
popular management book that outlined how companies can make the leap from good
to (financially) great. (Of
course, this was written in 2001, so this comparison may no longer be
Sisodia’s vision is
bold, and at times the messages bordered New Age, but the numbers
don’t lie, and I’m all for this inspiring business model that encourages
big businesses to operate with purpose and awareness.
Tuesday evening –
GreenUps, monthly green networking drinks
from Hunter Gatherer
Every time I go to GreenUps I feel rejuvenated and
inspired, and this time was no exception! I had a ballet date,
so I couldn’t stay long, but still connected with amazing individuals at the sustainably-minded Beauchamp
on Oxford Street while enjoying a glass of organic wine.
Wednesday morning –
University of Sydney, Consuming Cultures, Environmental Futures
I wore: Good Society
organic cotton denim, my favourite vintage poncho, and bangles that
were a mix of thrift, my mother’s and from travels in Mexico.
I was thrilled to join the conversation in this
class filled with lessons on consumption, multiculturalism, slow food, the history
of products, mining and more. Most
of the students are already sold on the
sustainability message, and I can’t wait to see what they do with this
knowledge as they move forward in their own careers.
All this and the week was only halfway complete!
And now the weekend brings the excitement of the Garage Sale Trail
across Sydney, as well as the start of Fairtrade Fortnight
There is so
much momentum right now, I can’t feel anything but optimistic that we’ll solve our environmental and economic problems. It's not going to be simple, but there are passionate people
attacking this from all angles, with different expertise and different ideas,
and I feel confident we will get the change we need. Even more exciting, there are so many opportunities for sustainable
entrepreneurs, so we can all take part in the world-changing times ahead.
Have a great weekend, and let me know if you partake in any CC, Collaborative Consumption, Garage Sale Trail, Fairtrade Fortnight or other sustainable activities - there's a lot to choose from right now!