Today we’re faced with probably the probably greatest paradox in human history.
Never has there been so much wealth and comfort, or so many educated people, and yet the world has never been so polluted and humans so unhealthy…how with so many brains in the world is this decline to happening and why are we unable to stop it?
How is this even possible I ask myself?
Global Warming, greenhouse gasses, the Pacific Gyre. Plastic waste, Ozone Depletion from solvents, cooling agents and pesticides..the list is too long.
But more recently the claim that children today will die younger than there parents due to their unhealthier lifestyle raises the question; is there a connection between environmental pollution and an unhealthy lifestyle?
Despite all our education, human and technical resources, how did we get here? To be so neglectful.
Maybe this is a deeply flawed analogy, I just woke up this morning with this thought. I wonder if its my personal sense of guilt from of all the greasy street taco’s I’ve been eating lately, as I develop my Huaraches footwear collection.
But can a low quality lifestyle be conducive to low quality decision making and business practice?
Can people who neglect their personal health truly be environmentally friendly? “If I don’t care about giving myself a heart attack, do I really care about giving the world one?”
Am I discriminating, or is it reasonable to think that people with unhealthy lifestyles can’t care enough about the environment, if they don’t care enough about themselves?
Am I presumptuous to wonder if unhealthy people can effectively prioritize, develop and manage environmentally friendly business practices?
Does healthy behaviour really depend on laws and regulations? Why should we wait for a law outlawing the use of a certain material, or business practice, when we know it is wrong to use it?
Although I risk sounding like a quack, can any business managed by unhealthy people truly prioritize, or even appreciate the development of environmentally friendly solutions?
How can we overcome the characterial and cultural hurdles that slow our progress, to develop more effective environmentally and socially responsible business practices sooner?
Do we take environmental pollution less seriously, because we contaminate our bodies daily?
What’s more, the leaders in developed countries; politicians, CEO’s and managers can be considered by far the most educated and experienced professionals on the planted, with the greatest financial, human and monetary resources. And if they can’t lead us out of this contaminated quagmire then what hope is there?
Can the similar uses of analogy help to create compelling narratives which set goals and create a better future proactively?
USE PERSONAL ANALOGY TO ANALYZE BUSINESS PRACTICE
How many of us eat too much fatty or greasy food and drink too many sugary drinks? How many of us sit all day and can only walk comfortably in footwear with heel. The truth is that too often we all neglect our personal health and the people around us that love us. So can our neglectful lifestyles negatively affect our progressive vision and quality of the products we create? If we don’t want the best for ourselves, how can we provide it to our consumers and the environment.
If we begin to treat ourselves and our friends and family better, maybe we will also treat our consumers, the environment and our business partners better also.
PRIORITIZE PERSONAL ECOLOGY AND PERSONAL ENVIRONMENT
If we can’t look after our personal ecology and socially neglect our loved ones, can we really be expected to look after our planet, our staff, the factory employees, our customers and consumers of the products we create and sell?
Why do business practices to do with pollution and social matters need to be regulated by law and not common sense?
Design wise a similar analogy exists, because just like in our personal life, nowadays it seems that its more important for product to look cool and beautiful than for it to be healthy. Its superficial aesthetic being more important that content and ingredients.
With increasing globalization the choices of a few people can have greater global consequences. Leaders of leading brands have increasing opportunities to make hugh positive global change, or massive social and environmental damage. And I think at the root, much depends on those people’s lifestyle and personal priorities. If we are negligent at home, maybe we are more likely to be negligent at work.
We trust brands, their CEO’s, Managers and Staff to do whats best for our health and that of the environment. We trust that the way animals and crops are grown doesn’t compromise the quality of the food we eat. We trust that the preservatives in the food we eat won’t worsen our health. We trust that the products we buy we’re made ethically and were designed to have the lowest negative impact on the people that made them and the environment. But if the decision makers at brands do not look after themselves and their personal environment, for example what they eat, drink and smoke, can we expect them to look after us?
On the other hand I think its fair to say that People, COEs and Managers that have strong positive principles in their private lives will also project them in the work they do and across the world through the brand they work for.
I think that positive progress and sustainable solutions with regards to social and environmental consequences of business can be truly successful only if we change how we make decisions in our personal lifestyles.
Unfortunately we live and often conform to a culture that typically perceives value in the short term, not just regarding to business, but also in our personal lives, relationships and the food we eat. Pleasure, satisfaction, reward and sense of achievement are feelings that we seek on a daily basis. While we neglected creating social and environmental advantages because as long term goals they don’t offer us immediate benefits. For example they don’t put food on our table, or pay our children’s tuition fees; immediate sales do! Business is fast and sales driven and this also makes it acceptable for us to neglect the working conditions of people who make our product as well as the pollution that our product creates.
Simply put; inside and outside of work we have a culture of neglecting ourselves and others. Just eating too much junk food shows that we have little concern for the environment that is our body.
So how do we begin to change our culture and awaken our conscience? Through analogy, by comparison and new perspectives that we can really relate to, and allow us a more objective understanding.
Quantitative analogies are useful emotional drivers. For example many years ago I quit smoking because I was able to calculate and imagine the volume of all the cigarettes I had smoked in my life and just envisaging the big cloud of smoke coming off such a massive imaginary tobacco bonfire was enough to shake my conscience and stop.
Then many years later after checking a sales forecasts document of a footwear line I had designed I could imagine the sheer volume of that moldy plastic mountain, made up of those 2 million pairs 2 years down the line. And I think that visual is in part its also why I’ve been researching and working with Mexican Huaraches footwear for the last 5 years..because at the time I could see no other way to make really healthy, beneficial product. I felt powerless that I couldn’t initiate the development of an industrial recycling initiative for footwear. So I gravitated towards vegetable tanned leather footwear instead.
Metrics; our culture has a long history measuring. Time, money, temperature, intelligence. And measuring has allowed us to focus and plan many of the great achievements in human history. Although sometimes measuring has caused us to focus excessively on some things, thereby neglecting others. I think its safe to say that the benefits of measuring have outweighed the disadvantages.
To overcome our innate desire for short term benefits we must set long term targets and this requires planning and staying on track along the way. These things can only be effectively done if we quantify our work as a means to chart and monitor our progress. A constant reminder to stay on course and remain committed to our long term goals.
So it seems logical that the most effective way to improve our social and environmental performance is to include units of measurement. This already exists in commercial nutrition, where calories, fats and sodium in the food we buy are all measured and printed on the packaging. More recently invented smart watches should also help us with quantifying our behavior.
Although its debatable if anyone pays attention to metrics, I think its a start, one that promotes greater awareness, that is something we humans desperately need.
So what kind of Social and Environmental metrics can we include in the work we do, to improve the product we create?
Elevate – Create Higher Standards
Aim higher, because lower quality product will in turn create a lower quality lifestyle and lower quality decision making and business practices that will create lower quality product.