Who Are You to Tell Me…
Have you ever heard someone tell you that what you are doing, driving, or consuming…is bad for the environment? I have. And it annoys me. My first reaction is hey! who are you? I worked hard to create my life and I deserve to enjoy it. Then I found out that it takes somewhere around 25% of the world’s resources to create the standard of living you and I enjoy here in the U.S. for only 5% of the world’s population. Hmmm…. you don’t need to be a math major to figure out that the methods we have chosen to create our standard of living in the U.S. can’t be used by the rest of the world to increase their standard of living – although many are trying just that. So what are the options?
We could just ignore the problem and hope no one else from the other 95% notices. Oops, too late. We could reduce our standard of living. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me. As someone once said, “austerity sucks, a lot!” You can’t save your way to greatness. Of course, you can spend your way into bankruptcy so frugality and efficiency are important. And becoming more efficient is part of the answer but so is becoming more effective. Is there an alternative? I think maybe so.
The methods we use to create value in our organizations and, in turn, our standard of living were designed by humans and thus can be redesigned. They could be redesigned in ways that create value for multiple stakeholders. So has anyone actually done this? Yes. Let’s start with buildings which consume enormous amounts of energy and consequently contribute enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses (GHGs). There are already certification programs for buildings that are environmentally “friendly.” But what about buildings that meet the needs of the multiple stakeholders? Beyond the environment…
Bjarke Ingels is a world-famous architect. A “rock star” of architects. His philosophical approach is grounded in the notion that through better design, a sustainable lifestyle can be just as much fun, if not more fun, than an unsustainable lifestyle. Below is one of my favorite videos of Bjarke addressing many key points related to his philosophy and approach. See how many ideas you find in the video – Hedonistic Sustainability.
So, you and I might not be in the building design and construction business so where do we find examples that might be closer to what we do? For an example of a business owner who “broke the code” on how to do this in his particular business check out my post The Business Logic of Sustainability. For more ideas and examples check out Joel Makower’s website greenbiz.com There are also quite a few books out there with examples such as Esty and Winston (2009). The challenge is how do we stop stealing from our kids and grandkids? How do we create the lifestyle we want using methods that don’t rob future generations of the ability to create the lives they want? We all have to become creative architects of our organizations if we want hedonistic sustainability.
Esty, D. C., & Winston, A. S. (2009). Green to gold: How smart companies use environmental strategy to innovate, create value, and build competitive advantage (Revised ed.). Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons.