In this, my last post about change makers, I sit down with three very different sustainability leaders to find out how they view a sustainable future: Greg Nicholls (a veteran of the visual graphics industry), Sue Connor and Jo Gillies (who both run their own architectural practice specialising in sustainability and eco design).
Eminè: Why did you decide to get into the sustainable space?
Sue: I have been passionate about the environment since I was a little girl, that – combined with a passion for the health and wellbeing of the inhabitants of the planet and Mother Earth herself – has led me further along this path.
Jo: A divorce plus dealing with a painful childhood experience, lead me to realise that we are all one, together on this planet, and we are all connected inherently from the heart and soul.
Greg: When I was introduced to a clean technology that would see a world first, engineered board manufacturing plant being commissioned in Cape Town, South Africa, it didn’t take much to convince me that in the future, the industry I was in would increasingly be forced to shift their raw purchases towards more sustainable inks and display substrates.
Eminè: What do you think people need to do so we can move forward into a more sustainable world?
Sue: People need to care about the here and now and what legacy we are leaving for future generations. They need to think about how we can support the environment and live sustainably. That is, ways we can be prosperous and our beautiful planet can be nurtured.
Jo: Lead by the heart; listen from the heart and create a more community-based system where isolation from each other slowly dissolves because of a willingness to support and care for one another.
Greg: Education is key. I meet many climate change sceptics, who are largely influenced by an economic need to maintain the status quo in their industry. Government incentives, that reward net zero or low carbon -emitting production processes and end-of-life product stewardship programs, need to continue to fund innovation.
Eminè: How are people embracing this change? Are they resisting it?
Sue: We feel people are becoming more aware of what we can do as individuals to make positive change. Small acts such as thinking about consumer ethics, (eg. how the animal was treated when buying food). People are resisting this change by convincing themselves it takes more effort or costs more to live in this way. Focusing too much on convenience, cheap, short-term options.
Jo: I agree with Sue, but would like to add that people change themselves and then become shining inspiring lights to others in the process.
Greg: I haven’t had any resistance on the concept of a recycled and repulpable board. Those that do are generally tradespeople who at first expect to pay more. That’s basic capitalism at work, perfectly understandable. The well-informed see the correlation between what is becoming a burgeoning renewables industry with increased employment.
Eminè: What type of people/businesses do you come across in this space?
Sue: Inspiring, uplifting, motivated, passionate, loving, energised, caring people and businesses.
Jo: I agree with Sue! There are a surprising number of people who are working at higher and more heart-based vibrations.
Greg: We have some very talented designers and entrepreneurs as clients working for rapid economic gain whilst disrupting “business as usual” manufacturing methods.
Eminè: Do you think we are changing? If so, how?
Sue: Being more present and mindful. Becoming responsible consumers, considering our wastage, recycling, composting, reducing our toxic chemical use.
Jo: I agree with Sue!
Greg: It’s enlightening to see more and more businesses embracing sustainability in a meaningful way, but everyone knows we’ve got a long way to go when looking at the big global picture.
Eminè: What is your greatest concern for the future?
Sue: That people remain uneducated and listen too much to politics, big business and have a negative mindset so that they look at themselves only and how they may benefit financially. That greed will lead to destruction of our precious environments.
Jo: People won’t live/listen to their hearts. Or won’t take the courage to listen to their souls.
Greg: I want to be able to look my kids in the eye in 2040 and tell them I made a difference to the way the world was consuming land to grow trees for wood. I’m concerned we’re all too comfortable with the status quo, especially in Australia and North America.
So there you have it! Whether you’re a leader for change or a supporter, this shift in thinking and interacting with the Earth and each other has a positive effect. If you’ve read all four parts to this blog series (Is that me?, Animal matters, What is love?, The changing times) the enormous environmental and community benefits are clear. At the end of the day, there is no other way to go. Sustainability has rendered the old ways of thinking obsolete.
Eminè Mehmet is an Australian interior designer, sustainability ambassador, writer and speaker and was recently appointed National Advocate of The Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife