All posts tagged: people planet profits

Economy of insanity and apples

Imagine for a moment a world where the currency of choice is apples. It is something that grows freely without a lot of effort from humans. Plant a tree, wait 10-20 years, then harvest. Depending on your level of ambition you can harvest just enough or a lot. But the thing about apples is that they rot. Maybe in a temperature controlled cellar they can last a few years, but hoarding apples eventually becomes an exercise in futility because who would want your old shriveled apples when they can just pick fresh ones from outside? So, in this economy, you are left with three choices: eat the apples, trade the apples, and give away your extras because soon they will become worthless to everyone, including yourself. Are you with me so far? What do you think would be the guiding principle in such a world? Sharing, of course. Since your apples are no good to you hidden away in a basement left to rot, the most efficient use of them would be to give them …

Why ‘voting with your dollar’ doesn’t work

The fall down the rabbit hole is a long one – and often very painful. Once you start to deconstruct reality around you, you tend to alienate a lot of people. They are perfectly adjusted and don’t need your philosophical musings, thank you very much. Vote with your dollars is something you will hear well-meaning sustainability-leaning people say a lot. I used to. I still do, to an extent, but it took a long time to realize just how difficult that is. The idea behind voting with your dollars is to put your money where your values lie. If you are against animal testing on cosmetics, you make sure to only buy cosmetics that are not tested on animals. Easy, right? Not so fast. Did you know that The Body Shop (the most famous worldwide company for natural and ethically produced beauty products) is owned by L’oreal? I didn’t, and that’s when I tumbled into this particular rabbit hole.

Brainstorming for Sustainability: Social media is mass hysteria?

I came across this interesting little brain nugget that asked ‘Is Social Media a new form of mass hysteria?’ and now I can’t shake that idea. Being a child of the internet the evolution of social media never seemed like a big deal to me. From 90’s message boards, to LiveJournal, to MySpace, to YouTube, to Facebook, to Instagram and everything that came and went in between, I just seized it, used it, and disregarded whatever didn’t suit me. But when you really sit down to think about it, social media has, and constantly is, changing our lives drastically. It is how we keep in touch with friends and non-friends, how we get our news, stay involved with our particular interests, share pictures and opinions, and in essence, shape our image. But we also shape ourselves.

You are not useless, but the society that tells you so is

I think what makes me the most sad to read on my Facebook feed is not the stories about how corrupt and useless politicians and corporations are. I already know that, most people know that. But to see how cruel and heartless ordinary people can be in the comment fields underneath these stories is depressing. Our society, this system, is breaking down at record speed. Environmental destruction, economic collapse and massive overpopulation that leaves the value of human life near zero. You don’t need a fancy degree to understand that a system which leaves this many people in poverty and despair is a flawed one. It is so disheartening to see so many so-called successful people call everyone else that isn’t at their level lazy and entitled. I just read an article about an immigrant boy with three degrees at age 25 cleaning toilets in a foreign land because his own country is in economic ruin due to the game of criminal bankers. And he is only one in millions. Millions. And most of the …

The embarrassing path to good coffee (goodbye Starbucks)

After spending Monday sighing over that the internet won’t shut up about Breaking Bad because it’s not really that good, I decided to catch up on Season 5 (I’d seen up to season 4 a year ago), probably because I hate feeling left out when it comes to Hollywood. That was three days ago. 14 episodes later I have re-emerged and I have pounded my fists on the bed and yelled at my computer on three separate occasions. I have also barely spoken to anyone nor seen sunlight. I’m a little confused as to what my life is right now. But I love coffee so let’s talk about coffee! My journey to appreciate coffee started, embarrassingly, with Starbucks. Now I call it candy-coffee because let’s face it, most of the concoctions they sell are 3 parts syrup, 1 part coffee and 6 parts milk but at the time I was convinced that a white chocolate mocha (WCM) was this mysterious adult beverage called coffee. And it was delicious! It probably still is but at least …

Truthseeker or information junkie?

I love the internet. I really do. Before the internet our access to information was rather limited. I have given myself the challenge to ‘unlearn’ historic truths that we just take for granted because our fifth grade teacher told us so. We are, for obvious and time-saving reasons, indoctrinated into a certain world view from an early age. Here are the good guys, these are the bad guys, and here’s why and how this war was fought. Usually the good guys win and our worldview remains safe and orderly. We can even illustrate it in a nice little chart.

10 Steps to a Sustainable Life: Step 4 (Value experiences over material things)

If I could sum up my master’s degree in sustainability in one word it would be “value”. The value of something is subjective and it means the importance we ascribe physical objects, experiences and even metaphysical undertakings such as learning and spirituality. For instance, I value my family more than anything, certainly more than to put a monetary value on it. I am sure you feel the same way about yours and the people in your life. But you don’t value my family as much as you do yours, and vice versa, so the concept of value is intangible and difficult to translate into a meaningful common reality. So we invented money to make it less confusing. The only problem is we took it too far and today anything can be ascribed a monetary value, including our ecosystem and life itself. When the monetary system was invented as we know it today we forgot to put a value on nature because at the time nature – air, water, soil, plants, forests and other natural resources …

March Against Monsanto: Hawaii (NO GMO)

The global March Against Monsanto, a rally against genetically modified food, took place on May 25 in 52 countries and 436 cities across the world. I was in Waikiki, Hawaii. The energy was just incredible from the moment you joined the crowd. Among luxury retailers and immaculate sidewalks over 1000 protesters took over the busy street around noon on Saturday. It was hard to estimate the number of people until the rally started marching but I do think it was well over one thousand, ranging from adults, youths, kids and some people didn’t even let injuries stop them and came in wheelchairs. It was truly a Hawaiian celebration. Signs like ‘GMOs in Hawaii – we ain’t bout dat life!’, ‘Monsanto is not pono (right)’, and ‘protect our aina (land)’. Jerome James and Joel Spiral provided drums, music and slogans which turned the 90 minutes walk into a real party. If this is what the world looks like without GMOs, sign me up! Doing some in-the-streets activism with like-minded people was the perfect energy boost this …

Books, websites and media for understanding human trafficking

I got a nice comment asking if I could share some literature on human trafficking, which I’m very happy to do! I think one of the first thing I had to wrap my head around going into this research is that slavery is an economic crime rather than crimes of cruelty and malice. It is difficult to understand because one of the first questions you want to ask is ‘what kind of person could do this to another human being?’ Sure, there are sadists out there but for the most part taking advantage of people in desperate situations is an act by equally desperate people with their own sets of problems and priorities. It is a systemic problem created by inequality among people. This TED video is a good introduction about what we know about slavery today. In this moving yet pragmatic talk, Kevin Bales explains the business of modern slavery, a multibillion-dollar economy that underpins some of the worst industries on earth. He shares stats and personal stories from his on-the-ground research – and …

10 steps to a sustainable life: Step 3 (Origins of Stuff and modern day slavery)

Did you know an estimate 20 million people are living in slavery today? Step 3 is educate yourself about where the things you buy come from. This becomes more and more important because the global economy is also an invisible one. When you pick up an item in a brightly lit store with familiar tunes playing in the background there is absolutely no way of knowing how many hands had part in bring that particular item to you. You don’t know how much they were paid, but judging by our insatiable thirst for bargains, the answer is most likely ‘not enough’. I grew up in Norway, that frozen little country in Northern Europe, and I spent the first 25 years of my life in blissful ignorance about how it is that we can buy 2 pounds of oranges in December for about 2 dollars. I guess it has something to do with volume – when buying tons and tons of oranges the stores are able to get them for cheap – or any other excuse …