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The Secret Environmentalist: tell me something I don’t know



Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability news sources and conferences can be really rather mediocre; an endless stream of non-news and non-learning, mediated though a meaningless media lens of what is “worth” communicating. 

Thus, the likes of me get an endless daily feed of pointless and asinine insights spewing from the mouths of people with little or no experience of any actual sustainability practice.

The archetype of this breed is the Damascene convert.

This is someone who spent most of their career peddling rubbish to the gullible and credulous. Selling pointless bits of plastic perhaps, or flogging poisonous chemicals to depressed consumers by persuading them that the particular mix of borderline-toxicity they are desperate to sell will, once bought, make their children respect them and give them the vital self worth that their ability to wash and wear things would so clearly provide.

The aspiring-to-be-worthwhile member of society spends many years making, marketing and lobbying for the products of their beloved corporation, design agency or other similar agglomerations of worthless human endeavour.

Then, either sudden as a strike of lightning or gradually like creeping terror, they start to realise that perhaps there is more to life than spending it in pursuit of Mammon for themselves and bunch of tax dodging, offshoring, faceless, replaceable suits (though this only tends to happen when a nice, comfy cushion of cash has been safely stashed).

Perhaps, they muse, it is time to “give something back” – possibly one of the most nauseating phrases in any language. Could they use their fearsome skills of manipulation and exploitation for a good cause, the sustainability of the planet and its people?

What a revelation, and what a double whammy! Our putative Saul/Pauline can do what they do best whilst also cleansing their soul of the stains accreted by so many years in the service of systemic environmental destruction and the exploitation of vulnerable humanity’s worst hopes and fears (e.g. your choice of music player makes you an unperson, the beer you drink won’t make you friends that will go into space with you).

And not only that, but said born-again hero can still get his or her ego polished through broadcasting their vacuous “hard won truths and tips” to the sustainability world. An audience who are just so ground down by the pointless treadmill of trying to persuade a suicidal world to step back from the cliff edge that they are either too catatonic to tell our champion to shove their words of wisdom, or are so naive and unworldly that they actually believe that the born again sage-on-stage is actually saying something worth listening to.

It’s bad enough that this happens at all, but then the vacuity is transmitted and amplified in snippet form through a myriad of social media and sustainability news sites: “XXX says sky is blue”, “Conference keynote says: ‘turquoise is the new aquamarine’”, “Conscious consumers will transform tomorrow’s businesses”. Or, the worst of all; “A. Bod, Founder & CEO of Vapid Platitudes Inc says ‘Sustainability is totally last year: CSV/ GrossPositive/ CSR 2.5 is the way and the truth’” (spot the real-ish one).

Of course, news sites would appear rather sporadically if they actually stuck to only publishing things that could be defined as new or interesting. But really! Non-experts pontificating to the gullible through a media lens – it’s not exactly going to build a professional knowledge base or a sustainable world, is it?

No one should be surprised that sustainability contains as much self aggrandisement and ego-polishing as any other part of life. Nevertheless, it remains a depressing and dismal fact that the sustainability movement – the last best hope for humanity’s future – is actively complicit in poisoning that hope with the trivial, facile and irrelevant.

The Secret Environmentalist has been in the business for more than two decades and has worked at all levels of sustainability. They have ranged from the chalk-face of kids’ education and the coal-face of small business support to the nightmare of drinking coffee in some of shiniest boardrooms on the planet. Experienced in the real world of the private sector and the realer one of not-for profits, The Secret Environmentalist is mad as hell, and is not going to take this anymore.

Further reading:

The Secret Environmentalist: things are changing but sustainability is still a pipedream

The Secret Environmentalist: all out for shale gas

Our insane civilisation lacks the wisdom to deal with the problems we face

Climate change: the time has come to become unreasonable

The climate clock is ticking. Normal isn’t working. What should we do differently?

The Secret Environmentalist has been in the business for more than two decades and has worked at all levels of sustainability. They have ranged from the chalk-face of kids’ education and the coal-face of small business support to the nightmare of drinking coffee in some of shiniest boardrooms on the planet. Experienced in the real world of the private sector and the realer one of not-for profits, The Secret Environmentalist is mad as hell, and is not going to take this anymore.


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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