Sustainable Brands : ‘Taking Cues from Nature’ by Bucky Box

image courtesy of http://bit.ly/15xkKzd

image courtesy of http://bit.ly/15xkKzd

 

The food system is not a machine, but this is how we have treated it in the last 50 years.

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With the growth of industrial food production, manufacturing and distribution, we have seen a vast range of short-term benefits and a swathe of longer-term challenges. The ramifications of this highly centralised food system can be seen in some of the well-documented symptoms: Nearly 35% of all food grown globally is wasted; we have a billion obese people in the world, and an almost equal number who go to bed hungry; and around 80% of the world’s hungry are involved in food production. Clearly something needs to change.

 

To understand how we will feed a growing population with decreasing resources and a changing climate, we must shift our mindset to understanding it is a living system. We can identify and create new opportunities for innovation by acknowledging it is a living system, and designing products and services for that reality.

 

The blueprint for a sustainable system already exists and indeed is all around us: After 3.8 billion years of R&D, nature has already solved many of the challenges we face, so if we can learn to take more lessons from the natural world we can design better solutions for our own society — doing well by doing good.

READ MORE AT SUSTAINABLE BRANDS HERE

 

 

#SXSWEco is on NOW!

If you haven’t heard about SXSWEco, then you should take a moment and jump over to sxsweco.com – here’s the brief run down about what the event is about:

SXSW Eco is a three-day conference addressing the need for a concerted, cross sector approach to solving the recognized challenges facing the economy, the environment and civil society. In its second year, SXSW Eco will be held October 3rd-5th, 2012 at the AT&T Conference Center in Austin, Texas.

Hosting an international audience of on-the-ground innovators and executive level decision makers from the public and private sectors as well as thought leaders from academia, this event will drive the conversation of sustainability beyond rhetoric and towards solutions. SXSW Eco is for professionals at the forefront of the post-recognition discussion who are dedicated to making progress towards solving these challenges.

Join us in Austin, Texas for discovery, cutting-edge discussion and unique networking opportunities with experienced, passionate and pragmatic professionals.

 

You can check out the whole event which is livestreaming at SXSWEco.com/live

 

One particular highlight on the schedule is Anna Lappé – cofounder of the Small Planet Institute – who will be speaking on the topic “Plenty for the Planet: Sustainable Food and a Well-Fed World” on Thursday, October 4 at 3:30PM – 4:30PM (Austin, Texas).

 

We hope you enjoy the conference – we’re also going to be live tweeting some bits and pieces, so join the conversation!

Wise Words

We’ve just been putting together a couple of images, with some wise words from strong voices of the fair food movement.  We hope you like – feel free to share on Pinterest / Facebook / Twitter.

 

Activist & Thought Leader, Dr Vandana Shiva (@drvandanashiva) on perspective

 

Author & Speaker, Anna Lappé (@annalappe) on Conscious Consumerism

 

Author, Michael Pollan (@michaelpollan) on food and culture

 

Author & Farmer, Joel Salatin (@joelsalatin) on how our food system has evolved.

 

Chef, Entrepreneur & Changemaker, Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) on American Health

 

Biology of Business : Creating prosperity for People & Planet

What a totally inspiring weekend I’ve just had in Auckland. A last minute decision to stay in town and go to see Elisabet Sahtouris speak, has turned into a full on learning experience which I’m really grateful for.

Image courtesy of Lexicon of Sustainability

Let’s take a step back – the last 50 or 60 years has been a pretty formative time here on Earth, with a couple of competing ideologies having diverged how various nations have approached creating prosperity for their citizens. I grew up in the ‘Western world’ which took a Capitalist approach to things. Undoubtedly there has been significant advancements in standard of living, and drastic shifts & innovation in many industries. Only now, however, is mass awareness emerging for how this value is being ‘created’ and at what cost.

 

From my understanding, it’s fair to say a lot of this prosperity has been borrowed from Earth & borrowed from our future. Capitalism has ramped up the Industrialised way of ‘manufacturing value’ over the last 50-60 years, which could be characterized as largely ‘extractive’ and linear in it’s approach to creating good & services; extract, process, trade, dispose. We’re now seeing around the world that this paradigm is not only unsustainable with a growing global population, but is in fact simply a race to the bottom.

 

This conference titled ‘The Biological Business Model’

Image courtesy of weretable: http://bit.ly/H6uUQa

began with the basic idea of regeneration of environmental, social & cultural capital, to create prosperity for People & Planet. It identified, of course, that people & planet are inseparable as we exist in a Living System, and therefore what’s good for the planet is also good for us.

 

We delved into Dr Sahtouris’ 16 principles for a business or organization which can create Regenerative value, which are inspired by her work in the deep study of nature, and the billions of years in which evolution has happened. Some people call the application of nature’s principles “Biomimicry”. I want to share these principles (which are available on Elisabet’s site) with you all as I find them really insightful:

  1. Self-creation (autopoiesis)
  2. Complexity (diversity of parts)
  3. Embeddedness in larger holons and dependence on them (holarchy)
  4. Self-reflexivity (autognosis/self-knowledge)
  5. Self-regulation/maintenance (autonomics)
  6. Response ability to internal and external stress or other change
  7. Input/output exchange of matter/energy/information with other holons
  8. Transformation of matter/energy/information
  9. Empowerment/employment of all component parts
  10. Communications among all parts
  11. Coordination of parts and functions
  12. Balance of Interests negotiated among parts, whole, and embedding holarchy
  13. Reciprocity of parts in mutual contribution and assistance
  14. Efficiency balanced by Resilience
  15. Conservation of what works well
  16. Creative change of what does not work well

The interesting part of this for me, is beginning to form a model for how we can build better businesses in c21st.

Image courtesy of gijsbertkoren : http://bit.ly/H6uUQa

How do we build businesses based on the fundamental needs of our global society rather than short term fads and wants? How do we ensure our businesses really create value (social, environmental, cultural & economic combined) rather than taking from the future generations? How do we build the future of business in the mold of mature ecosystems (cooperative & incredibly efficient) instead of pioneering ecosystems (competitive & wasteful)?

 

We’re going to be taking some great learnings away from this conference and seeing where we’re working well and where we can improve. We can already see there’s some good elements to our model, but we think we can do more, inspired by 3.8 billion years of evolution.

“No Business has ever faced a challenge that a Rainforest has not already created a solution for.”
~ Elisabet Sahtouris

 

If any of that is interesting to you, make sure you check out:

Elisabet Sahtouris’ website
Biomimicry Design Inspiration : AskNature
Biomimicry 3.8 : the portal to all things Biomimicry
Ashton Wylie Trust – hosts of the event

Social Innovation High-5’s

The Sustainable Business Network Awards are going down right now in Auckland, and we’re sad we couldn’t be there.

We’re sad not to be there, not just because we were included in the Finalists for the Social Innovation category, but because the rest of the finalists were our good friends from around the country too!

In fact, we share an office with the winners (and a couple of us are trustees..).  So, please lift a glass to the ever-awesome 350 Aotearoa – Social Innovation Champions for 2011! Yeow!!

Keep up with the rest of the awards through Twitter at #NZSBNAwards

Honourable mention to the mighty Kaibosh – fantastic Food Rescuers of Wellington.

High-5’s to Guy & Laura at Inspiring Stories and Emily at Urban Pantry too!