Conscious Capitalism Earth Day 2020: A Call to Action

By Shadi Ramey | April 23 2020

The world has gone mad and (almost) everything has changed in the blink of an eye. So much has come to a complete halt. So much was taken for granted is now inaccessible. And yet here we sit. In our homes. Thinking. We are being forced to consciously, actively, and intentionally think.

March has turned into the middle of April, and 4/20 and Earth Day are here. But this year, all of the 420 Celebrations have been cancelled. This year, Earth Day events all over the world are cancelled or have become a virtual event. 

The internet is being flooded with imagery showing the planet coming back to life, from photos of the now crystal-clear Venice Canals, to the breathtaking pictures of Los Angeles where people are finally able to see the surrounding mountains for the first time in decades. Mother nature is getting the chance to breathe. 

Planet Earth is breathing.

Humans are breathing.

And so, after many waves of emotion and some work,  good intentions, and grounding I got to thinking – this time, the time of “The Great Pause”, is THE time to switch to Conscious Capitalism.

We need to think deeply about our carbon footprint, our supply chain, our ethos. 

We need to start giving a fuck. 

We need to be held accountable. 

We need to use our businesses as a force for good. (And if not, then we certainly can no longer use business to poison the Earth!)

We must give rise to solutions that show real possibility for change.

Who would have thought that the one upside to a global pandemic would be an amazing break for the natural world + and a break for our capitalist driven human behavior? One that has removed much human activity from the ecological footprint. While not all human activity has ceased, the destructive effects of capitalism are seeing a massive decrease. So what if we use this time – this pause – to shift our consciousness? How can we take our enlightened thinking during this time of pause, and bring it with us when society is able to hit ‘play’ again?

I believe this is the time to create a new Green Economy that is based in conscious capitalism. Now is the time to re-evaluate and change our business practices so that we are really doing the right thing when no one is looking. 

We need to study and reconfigure our supply chains. 

We need to think of the environmental impact of every last thing that we do. 

We needed to have done all this a long time ago, but we can do it now. This is a call to action. This is our time to show that we do give a damn.

Now, in this time of pause, is our time to take a deeper look at how we do business, and how we want to do business, moving forward. How can we rise to be conscious capitalists during this time? How can we use this as  a great opportunity? 

In order for sustainability to occur, something has to be socially, ecologically and economically equitable. Most businesses cannot say this is so. We must evaluate our footprints as they relate to human capital, social capital, environmental capital, equitable wages, and beyond. Most companies, even those that cry  Vegan! or Hempcentric! are extremely unsustainable. This is the time to ground, look around, break down, and build. To get in touch with TRUE sustainability. 

Sustainability is a word that holds deep meaning – Unfortunately, it is one of the most misused, abused and incorrectly applied terms that exists today. During my past five years in the hemp industry, I have cringed every time I hear someone use the word “sustainable” when they host events that have styrofoam, and have no option for recycling or compost.  Events full of GMO food, throw-away knick-knacks, plastic cups, soft drinks, and mass amounts of single use items.  I want to scream every time I hear a self proclaimed “influencer” use the word “sustainable” when they don’t have a clue what it really means.  Sustainability refers to social, economic and environmental equity, and most importantly understanding how this equity will be grounded for future generations.

During my M.A. research on sustainable development and ecotourism in Nepal, the term sustainable development was only about 8 years old. It had come out in the Brundtland Report from the UN meeting in Rio, The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Here is the excerpt from the report “Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development”:

“Sustainable Development. Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The concept of sustainable development does imply limits – not absolute limits but limitations imposed by the present state of technology and social organization on environmental resources and by the ability of the biosphere to absorb the effects of human activities. But technology and social organization can be both managed and improved to make way for a new era of economic growth. The Commission believes that widespread poverty is no longer inevitable. Poverty is not only an evil in itself, but sustainable development requires meeting the basic needs of all and extending to all the opportunity to fulfil their aspirations for a better life. A world in which poverty is endemic will always be prone to ecological and other catastrophes. 28. Meeting essential needs requires not only a new era of economic growth for nations in which the majority are poor, but an assurance that those poor get their fair share of the resources required to sustain that growth. Such equity would be aided by political systems that secure effective citizen participation in decision making and by greater democracy in international decision making. 29. Sustainable global development requires that those who are more affluent adopt life-styles within the planet’s ecological means – in their use of energy, for example. Further, rapidly growing populations can increase the pressure on resources and slow any rise in living standards; thus sustainable development can only be pursued if population size and growth are in harmony with the changing productive potential of the ecosystem. 30. Yet in the end, sustainable development is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs. We do not pretend that the process is easy or straightforward. Painful choices have to be made. Thus, in the final analysis, sustainable development must rest on political will.”

Conscious capitalism has never been more important. We must think about the decisions we make as entrepreneurs, board members, investors, etc. We need to make the change. We need to understand how unequitable our social, economic and ecological impacts of our business really are. 

We need to commit to zero waste. 

We need to understand and explore and commit to carbon tax. 

We need to do the right thing when no one is looking. Now.

We need to evaluate the supply chains we support. 

We need to evaluate the social capital involved in our businesses. 

We need to evaluate what we put into our products.

We need to consider our environmental and carbon footprints –  from end to end.

Let’s begin by each making one conscious effort, one decision to something actionable that can be done when we press play. When things go back to normal and our minds don’t have time to rest and be mindful 24/7. How can we commit to true sustainability and feed the planet love consistently, even when human kind is not on pause?

About Shadi

Shadi has years of experience working with B Corp, mission driven business and conscious capitalism. She has been working on carbon finance issues since 2018 and is well versed in this subject and consults with other companies to help develop strategic plans to pursue carbon negative business practices. Ethical supply chain management is a specialty of Shadi’s.  Shadi works with companies to make true sustainability a priority by working on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development goals.  “The future of the sustainable cannabis industry lies in mission driven business, carbon finance and showing true leadership with a supply chain rooted in a company ethos of integrity, accountability and transparency.”


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