the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another

Every April, Mother Earth graces our Guru crew with showers for the East Coasters and flowers for the West Coasters. It’s when many of us recommit to walking meetings and outdoor breath breaks. And it’s also when our friends and brands take a moment to celebrate Earth Day / Week / Month.

In thinking about our interactions with this planet, we’re increasingly spending more time talking about impact. Impact strategy, impact positioning, impact reports. But if we step back and ground ourselves in the meaning of that word, I’m challenged by its role in conveying a positive story. Just think about its synonyms: clash, crush, hit, jolt, knock, punch, strike, shock.

What if instead of the mechanical metaphor of impact, we were inspired by biomimicry? We began to think in terms of cycles, germination, flows, and symbiotic relationships. In this way, we may not be so driven by the data points of carbon offset or dollars donated, but rather by our effect on the ecosystems in which we live. We would start to tell the stories of the people and places changed by our work, not the figures being shared in boardrooms. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t engage in those tactical ways to better our footprint — but what we’re suggesting is that we can’t do so in a way that replaces the need to address negative externalities that are deeply rooted in business operations.

This approach can challenge us to do the deeper work and understand our true interactions with nature and people. Admittedly, that work is not easy. It forces us to grapple with the consequences of doing business, even those unintended. For example, we can’t only celebrate newly-minted compostable packaging if we aren’t also willing to address the waste output of our innovation. In this way, we would begin to prioritize Earth as our primary stakeholder above those with purchasing power who may be swayed by shiny “new” offerings that simply check a sustainability box.

These are the conversations we need to be having when we talk about “impact strategy” – what is the legacy that we are leaving behind for the people and planet that will come after us? When we pull ourselves out from the day-to-day facts and figures and begin to think about the whole system, that is what can inspire a greater conversation around purpose. And when we start to define purpose as our reason for being, then we can measure all actions (business, interpersonal, emotional) against that north star.

We’re also not suggesting that a brand needs every corner of their operation buttoned-up to be able to talk about its good in the world. Nature doesn’t always get it right the first time either (hence, evolution). But in the spirit of a mother, we only ask that we try our best. And please be honest. First with ourselves, and then with the people who buy and support our products and services. When we start from that place of authenticity, not only are we morally-free from the greenwashing veil, but we can genuinely begin to create solutions to become better in the future.

Our friends at The Redford Center have recently taught us that within just five minutes of being in nature our senses awaken, blood pressure lowers, cortisol drops, mood improves, energy increases, happiness builds, and caring begins. So in celebration of Earth Month, we hope you find yourself outside each and every day. And we hope you are inspired by the people and organizations working to do just a little bit better by our Mother Earth.

Hail to the Queen! 🌱 🌎

– Amanda K.


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