Philosophy

Philosophy
Sustainability entering the mainstream

The rise of the progressive sustainability minded professionals

I’m excited by the evidence that sustainability is entering the mainstream.

The rise of the progressive, socially interested professional. People who work in businesses and other organisations and don’t want to leave their values at home when they travel to work.

People who want to succeed, to earn good money by doing good work, and help build healthy societies in the process.

People who enjoy life, maybe want to connect to some of the good things we’ve forgotten about with the rash of frantic consumerism, and want to find ways to do so whilst making the world better.

People who will make decisions based on evidence, will challenge the status quo, will look for new ways to solve problems in a rapidly changing world.

People who want to buy mainstream products from those big brands that get it, as well as the specialist products from great ethically-minded small businesses.

People who love travel and experiencing this beautiful world and its huge diversity of people, but know we have to find ways to reduce the impact of travel so that we can continue to enjoy it.

I don’t believe success is a dirty word. We want the sustainable businesses to be successful.

People who would rather find ways to change things for the better than sit there feeling impotently guilty for doing what millions of others are also doing.

People who, regardless of their own personal views, politics and lifestyle preferences, respect others and seek to build common cause with them.

This site is for those people.

It’s important because sustainability has to completely enter the mainstream.

There’s evidence that it’s happening, but will it be enough? Will it be in time? I don’t know (and neither does anyone else). It could be 50/50 – and that’s on the optimistic side.

While there’s a growing body of progressive change-makers, there are plenty pushing the other way, because of the fear of change, or simply because people like them, their tribe, believe things differently.

What I don’t believe

Sometimes you have to be clear what you don’t think, to be clearly understood about what you do.

I don’t believe that only small super-ethical products should be encouraged. Corporations will always be easy to criticise because no large body of people can be consistently perfect. But many are on the journey, and they are best placed to push more sustainable practices to scale.

I don’t believe that large scale change comes by purists wagging fingers and criticising people in a downward spiral blame game.

Crowd burning George Bush in effigy
Crowd with 'give peace a chance' placards burn effigy of person they don't like - what's wrong with this picture?

I don’t believe in the tribalism that holds that people who think differently must be (a) evil (b) stupid or (c) under someone’s malign influence. Indeed, that sort of tribalism on all sides is what’s holding us back.

I don’t believe that the world will be saved by ethical consumerism. It’s too low a percentage of how things are bought and that’s not changing. And some of the things that are super-ethically pure are not scalable. 

I don’t believe that visions of a hair-shirt future will attract people. Such a future is our last resort – what happens when we failed. Those who sell it as something they seemingly hold to be desirable will never gain the sort of scale needed to make any kind of real difference.

I don’t believe we change the world by ignoring the reality of what’s happening in the world, and how change actually happens. If your version of change depends on a process that has never successfully created lasting, positive change in the history of the human race, there’s a pretty good chance you’re wasting your time.

I don’t believe success is a dirty word. We want the sustainable businesses to be successful. That doesn’t happen with magic fairy dust, it happens because people are driven to achieve.

I don’t believe that reason and argument are enough to build sustainability. It has to become part of our identity. Identity is powerful. It trumps reason every day. We need to find ways to build one that supports the other.

Why progressive sustainability-minded business has a key part to play

Sustainability will only become mainstream when it becomes a point of common consensus. Politicians can argue about the details of implementation. But if large swathes of society are committedly pushing the other way, we have a problem. And it won’t be a problem that is solved by defeating the other side. It will come by building common cause with them.

Businesses can be part of the problem. They have often ignored inconvenient facts, and defended old ways of doing things when it was past time to give them up.

But businesses are the most pragmatic, non-ideological, change-friendly organisations we have in society. They have resources. They are strong problem-solvers. They have an interest in understanding the world as it is so that they can continue to do well in that world.

They can help to develop the solutions that make a better world. They can be agents to help build consensus across political divides.

Business people with blank masks
Corporations are faceless - it's people that make the difference

And businesses are becoming important agents of change because of the individuals, the progressive new breed of business leaders, and practitioners, that are taking the opportunities to build businesses that make a difference.

People who talk about socially responsible businesses too often focus on the corporate. But corporations are faceless. It’s people that make a difference.

This site is a celebration of, and support for, those people.

The entrepreneurs who create positive new ways to solve problems. The people climbing the ladder who know that the more influence and success they have, the more powerful a difference they can make. The people who just want to know what are good lifestyle choices to make that are going in the right direction without becoming apart from the mainstream. The people enduring a toxic corporate culture knowing that they’re on the lookout for something better.

Does that sound like you? Tell me what you’re up to! Let’s connect.

You can contact me at mallen@mallenbaker.net