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Not Business As Usual: watch the documentary in full



Not Business As Usual is a 2014 documentary film by Vancouver-based entrepreneur accelerator Institute B. Here, social venture capitalist Joel Solomon explains more about its origins and importance.

Click here to jump straight to the film.

Tell us about the Not Business As Usual.

It is about the growing use of business and finance as tools for a more inclusive, just and regenerative world. It has universal themes for understanding a practical model of a better capitalism.

The film juxtaposes the Milton Freidman mindset of modern industrial economy where externalities are someone else’s responsibility, with a modern advanced integrative model.

The filmmaker and the subjects of the film’s inquiry are all Vancouver, Canada-based entrepreneurs. These people are using business for career, financial success and contribution to the larger community. Externalities are part of the puzzle to resolve, essential to success. That balance is the key.

What’s your involvement and why did you want to be part of it?

My direct involvement was as a social venture capitalist having a conversation with the filmmakers about these topics. My less obvious involvement is as the 18-year producer of the Social Venture Institute (SVI) at Hollyhock. SVI is a highly crafted gathering of more than 100 social entrepreneurs that is cross-sectoral, intergenerational, and peer learning-based.

Most of the characters in the film met either at SVI, or through connections and influence from SVI. I wanted to be part of the film because I was asked by Darrell Kopke of Institute B. I trust and respect Darrell’s intentions and his own growing sensibilities around the true purpose of business.

I had no idea it would be such a wonderful and engaging feature length docu-film that would be compelling and viral with its noteworthy influence. It over 100,000 views already; that’s pretty good for a business documentary.

With Carol Newell, founder of Renewal, we had made a modest investment in The Corporation, made by Mark Achbar and written by Joel Baaken. It was another surprising success, repaying our full investment, plus some, while laying out a powerful analysis of modern capitalism. I now view Not Business As Usual as a next chapter of a similar message, loaded with inspiration about solutions.

Business as usual: what’s the problem with it?

Business as usual has too often been exclusively about maximising financial profit, regardless of the cost to people and planet. Externalities are someone else’s problem, as long as it is legal to ignore them. And even if it is not legal, it has been considered legitimate for ‘business’ to invest in lobbyists (while earning a taxpayer-funded deduction for doing so). They then persuade politicians to change or scuttle potential regulations, and remove the legality obstacle.

Making profit has been justification for all nature of bad behaviour that future generations will be bewildered by.

Where would you start if you were going to make business serve society and the environment better?

Product by product. Entrepreneur by entrepreneur. Business school by business school. Regulation by regulation. Transparency. Values. Vision.

And compelling stories about those who are stepping up to responsibility for tomorrow, while having meaningful joyful lives. Like those in Not Business As Usual.

Not Business As Usual Documentary from institute B on Vimeo.

Further reading:

Wisdom, ingenuity, morals and investing

Success means seeing ourselves as part of the bigger system

Has CSR reached its sell-by date?

21st century leadership: from business as usual to business as a force for good

The Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility 2013


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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