“I don’t want your hope. I want you to panic. I want you to act as if the house was on fire. Because it is,” said 16-year-old climate activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg at the 2019 World Economic Forum.
The warning to mankind is clear: we have about a decade – maybe a little more, maybe a little less – before the damage we are doing to Mother Earth becomes permanently irreversible. And children across the world are now the ones delivering the warning.
We – the global, collective “we” – haven’t sufficiently listened to scientists. To engineers. To environmentalists. To citizens of coastal towns and cities like Beira, Mozambique. In short, we are neither heeding the words of those professionally qualified to issue such a catastrophic warning, nor the experiences of those on the front lines of devastating tangible climate disasters.
Despite clearly abnormal and frightening weather patterns, rising temps and melting glaciers, we still stand here today receiving a ‘last chance’ plea from our kids, their voices full of mistrust as they beg for their elders to act now.
But the innovators – at least, those in attendance at the second anniversary of the Climate Collaborative’s launch at Expo West – are acting. The imperative for action was the talk of the expo, and Climate Day was truly a celebration of collaboration for change.
Lara Dickinson, Founder of OSC2, and Erin Callahan, Director of the Climate Collaborative, have brilliantly assembled community and inspired real change in business. The group has seen 360 companies make more than 1,300 commitments to act on climate in just two years—an average of one company committing every two days.
Next: to turn that commitment into action, and that action into consumer awareness and advocacy. That is where Guru helps.
During Climate Day, Guru’s Founder, CEO and Executive Creative Director Gagan (Jared Levy) led a power-packed panel of industry experts from Thrive Market, REBBL, Ben & Jerry’s and more, discussing how to engage consumers around climate action in the natural products industry.
“I was honored to lend my voice to this crucial discussion,” Gagan said. “This is an issue that many, if not all, of Guru’s clients face in their business models, supply chains and operations. To find an authentic route to action and then weave that purpose into our brand stories – without alienating consumers in the process – is a delicate-but-necessary tightrope for businesses today to walk. Inaction is no longer an option.”
It’s not a matter of if a brand is going to engage in climate action, but how. It must, increasingly, be at the center of everything a business does.
As Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and Guru client, Patagonia Provisions, said, “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.” Chouinard also quoted David Brower as saying, “There’s no business to be done on a dead planet.” Even young Greta Thunberg warns of the same. Profits won’t matter if we don’t have a planet on which to enjoy them.
It’s really that simple. And it will require that we, as consumers, demand change and that we, as businesses, engage our consumers in conversation that inspires them to demand change. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Take Guru client Goddess Garden Organics, for instance, who makes reef-safe mineral sunscreens, natural facial care, pure essential oils and aromatherapy, and chemical-free perfumes.
Goddess Garden’s simple-yet-profound raison d’etre is to save the ocean. They fight this fight through the products they sell, and through their ocean preservation foundation, Protect Our Mother (POM).
POM Foundation supports scientific research and legislation, generating campaign support and engaging in sampling and lobbying efforts to raise awareness to help clean up our waters. The Goddess Garden team advocated for the legislation recently passed in Hawaii, banning chemical sunscreens (oxybenzone and octinoxate) to protect coral reefs. We are hopeful that their home state of California, with its 12,145 square miles of marine protected areas, is next.
Goddess Garden is also on a mission to affect climate balancing by increasing the plant life in the ocean that oxygenates our air and sequesters carbon. For example: Sea urchins are depleting kelp forests. Their main predators, sea otters, have been brought back from near extinction in the Monterey Bay area. By moving some rescued sea otters to urchin-heavy areas, the otters can continue to repopulate, while also controlling the urchin population. This will allow the kelp to grow and to help restore the natural balance.
But perhaps most importantly, Goddess Garden is manufacturing products that can replace the problem (chemicals from our skincare products polluting the ocean) with a solution that will make a difference (wonderful skincare products that do not pollute the ocean).
These are the kind of companies that Guru wants to work with, to ensure that their authentic, powerful work is known to every consumer. Not just to sell sunscreen and after-suncare products. But to make a difference that will increase joy and reduce suffering in the world and hopefully, save Mother Earth.
Top-down change requires policy change on the part of politics and commerce. Bottom-up change requires that every consumer is doing their part through everyday choices: from the food and beverages in our kitchen, to the products we use on our bodies, and the organizations we support and promote.
But all change will require overwhelming, unyielding demand by consumers and constituents with the urgency of a house on fire.