Sustainability in business is a big passion of mine. I often find myself at green gatherings where like-minded entrepreneurs and activists get together to talk about all things environmental.
I love these get-togethers. I invariably meet amazing people. Indeed some of my closest friends and some of Unchained‘s closest collaborators are part of this amazing, global, growing, green community.
Can you feel my love? Good, because that’s where the gushing ends.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I can’t help but think the sustainability world (and by that I really mean those at the forefront of the most progressive ‘new green’ thinking) let themselves down by allowing their passion to undermine their good sense.
Put a bunch of us in a room and it’s not long before we start sounding like we’re selling a religion. To prove the point I suffered through that cringe-worthy film of Tom Cruise harping on about the joys and responsibilities of Scientology.
As I suspected I found phrases in the film that I’ve often heard at my sustainability hook ups:
- You’re either on board or you’re not on board
- They want help and they’re depending on people who know
- One day it’ll just be like that and they’ll read about it in history books
- Now is the time
- I wish the world was a different place. I’d like to go on vacation and just play and just do that. There are times I’d like to do that but I can’t, because I know.
- Once you know, you just have to do something about it
- There’s nothing better than going out there and fighting the fight and suddenly you see things are better.
- It’s our responsibility to educate, to create the new reality
- You know the spectators who are like, “well it’s easy for you”
- We need more work, but I need more help. We gotta get those spectators.
- We’re going to clear this place up
- We have an opportunity to help
- Once you have the tools and you know how to use them, it’s not good enough that I’m just doing OK
Sound familiar? Seriously guys, we need a new lexicon. Our language is old and off-putting. And though I’m not suggesting that our lexicon causes people to feel the same way about green issues as they do about Scientology, I am suggesting we can learn something from Scientology about how not to do things. So to start with, I’d like to suggest that we:
- Stop congratulating ourselves on being right about the ills of the world
- Stop being so intimidating (we’re not approachable to companies and people who may want to start doing the ‘green thing’. Even less so if they’re petrified we’ll call them greenwashers when they do)
- Stop patronising everyone who isn’t us
- Stop letting our passion undermine our sense. I know you care, but try to think about how it feels and sounds to the other person.
If you’re green and attend these meetings I’d love to know if you feel the same. What works for you when talking about sustainability? And what do you hate? If you’re cynical about sustainability then I’d really like to hear from you in particular.