One of the perks that come with this job is the international travel. I may complain about 20 hour flights, but they’re worth it when you get to come face to face with lions, as I did in October during the IFSCC Congress in South Africa or, only a week later, have the opportunity to a visit a rainforest. The later came when I was in Singapore for the World Conference on Fabric and Home Care (I know, I know, my carbon footprint is way out of whack these days). Singapore is one of the modern miracles of capitalism, and smack dab in the middle of all this economic power is a six-hectare rainforest—the last bit of wilderness on an island that was once teeming with natural growth, but now hums with economic activity.
When I told my wife, I had traversed this little oasis in less than an hour, she replied “that’s incredible… and sad, too.”
She’s right. Consumerism has tamed the wilderness, but it’s unleashed the demons, as well. At most conferences I attend these days, speakers spend a great amount of time searching for answers to problems that we’ve created. Folks can talk all they want about the wonders of programs like sustainable palm, but the fact is, tearing up a forest to plant a tree isn’t the best answer at all.
The simple answer is to stop. Stop wasting resources, stop looking for the bigger, better deal and be happy with what you’ve got; because, as a wise man once told me, “if you’re not happy with what you’ve got, why would you want more?”
That’s great advice if you’re a yogi or a monk who’s turned his back on the trappings of modern life, but if you’ve got mouths to feed or shareholders to placate, you have to find solutions that reside somewhere in the middle.
In this issue of Happi, and throughout 2013, we’ll report on how companies are grappling with the next chapter in the sustainability story. Hopefully, we’ll uncover some answers that can benefit everybody.