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20 questions with… Summer Rayne Oakes



Summer Rayne Oakes answers 20 questions on life, sustainability and everything.

A designer, activist, author, eco-model and social entrepreneur, she is currently working on the intersection of technology and local food, and before that, launched Source4Style, the online tradeshow for sustainable design.

We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday. What’s your mission?

Bring the beauty of the world to as many people as possible. I try to do that in so many ways – whether it is through design; film; photography; good, clean eating; and a good soul by empowering others who share in the same mission. The possibilities are endless.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An artist. I always had a pencil or a paintbrush in my hand.

How would your friends describe you?

Thoughtful, spirited, forthright.

What was your ‘road to Damascus moment’ in terms of sustainability?

Simply falling in love with the wonders of nature as a kid. It’s been my orientation for as long as I could remember.

Who or what inspires you?

The belief that one’s life is worth living, especially when you know you can make a big difference in the lives of others. I find myself touched and inspired by people everywhere I go. Some include Allan Schwarz, for his commitment to his craft at the Mezimbite Forest Centre; the team over at Good Eggs for their enthusiasm for growing local food systems; my dear friend Joey, who seems to capture people’s true spirit in his photography; and my grandparents for their unconditional love and humour.

What really grinds your gears?


Describe your perfect day.

Waking up early to the sun, going for a run or workout, doing work that drives me forward and challenges me often, sharing a moment outdoors, cooking a meal for my friends and finishing off the night with a podcast or a good book.

What do you see when you look out your window at home?

The Manhattan skyline – and a few pesky buildings obscuring the view.

What do you like spending your money on?

My creative projects, travel (preferably with a friend), unforgettable experiences, and ingredients for home-cooked meals (also with friends).

What’s your favourite holiday destination?


What’s your favourite book?

I’ve been reading Joseph Campbell – The Power of Myth, which is a tremendous read. But I’m also consuming Sex at Dawn, which is also extremely good. But my all-time favourite is Guy Murchie’s Seven Mysteries of Life, which was suggested to me by a friend of mine and I’ve read at least three times.

What’s your favourite film?

I loved Shawshank Redemption. I might have seen that movie more than a dozen times.

You’re made prime minister. What’s the first thing you do?

Increase access, opportunity and options in public transportation. I was recently in Venice, Italy, and realised how pleasant it was to not hear or see any vehicles.

If you were stuck on a desert island, which famous person would you like to be stuck with and why?

My mind immediately questioned whether there is some famous person that could fulfil me spiritually, physically and mentally and I can’t think of one, which is a little depressing. But I think I’d bring back my mentor, Tom Eisner – the founder of chemical ecology – so we could pal around and look at bugs all day.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And the worst?

The best: good friends only come to those who make the time to listen. The worst: your education won’t benefit you [in the world of fashion].

What would you like to be doing five years from now?

More off-the-wall creative projects.

What’s your biggest regret?

Learn more languages at a young age.

What one thing would you encourage readers to do to make their life more sustainable?

Find a way to give back to others – whether it’s through a community garden or helping friends or family eat healthier or some other person-centric project. I find that it’s the human connection that compels us to want to do more – both for ourselves and for others.

What’s the one idea that you think could change the world for the better?

Honestly? At the risk of sounding cheeky or hippy, I think more love and sex for all!

What’s your favourite quote?

Only a fool walks on the edge of a cliff. Only the man who has been there knows what’s behind. Only the man who has been there knows where no man has been. And where no man has been is where some men must go.”

Summer Rayne Oakes is a designer, activist, author, eco-model and social entrepreneur.

Further reading:

A manifesto for fashion that truly challenges the status quo

Consumers have ‘immense power’ to make food sustainable

Is a passion for fashion compatible with a concern for the world around us?


New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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