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Purpose and the Bees

by Alice Knowles-Rivas on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Attending Purpose 2018 was like finding your tribe and then binge watching all TED talks since the beginning of time. In the first session only, we were presented with the top 100 solutions to reverse global warming. Across two days jam packed with panels, keynote speeches, workshops and other ways of sharing information, 73 different speakers discussed the ethics of exponential tech, human well-being, and systems change for the new economy.

I was introduced to a whole lot of new problems and new solutions. I was subjected to a number of alarming graphs that cannot be unseen. But I also found out about a number of initiatives that will be a force for positive change in the future.  Some of the facts are still sticking with me.

  • There are more CEOs in the world named John, than there are female CEOs.
  • River Piracy is a phenomenon where rivers hijack each other, creating dramatic consequences for the local ecosystem and communities. It typically occurs over centuries, but it’s been happening all over the world at an unprecedented accelerated rate over the past few decades.
  • Permaculture was invented in Australia.
  • There’s a tech company somewhere in the world with an entire building where all but one employees are male.
  • Solutions related to food are more impactful for reversing global warming than solutions related to energy.

With every session, every workshop, came the urge to start doing things differently, on a personal but also business level. But how? Where do we start? It’s quite overwhelming. And according to Paul Hawken, it’s ok. All it takes is for a group of people who give a fuck to start identifying how they can make a difference as an individual or a business. There are literally hundreds of solutions out there. Here are three examples at the top of my list.

Refrigeration materials

This is the easiest solution with the most impact. Refrigeration materials are the number 1 solution according to the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming presented in the kickoff session. Take that solar panels and clean energy!

Chemical refrigerant materials found in most fridges, freezers and aircon units (HFCs and CFC) are still in circulation even though they are the main culprit in depleting the ozone layer. Their capacity to warm the atmosphere is 1,000 to 9,000 times greater than that of carbon dioxide.  Worldwide agreements to phase them out are in place, but it is also up to us consumers to choose to purchase HFC and CFC free fridges and freezers when we move into our next home or office.

By simply being informed and making the right choice anyone can participate in the number one solution to save the planet, isn’t that pretty neat?

Plant rich diet

Still according to Hawken’s Drawdown Project, adopting a plant rich diet is the number 4 most impactful solution to reverse global warming. It comes way before electric vehicles and household recycling.

It doesn’t mean that we should all become vegans or vegetarians. It simply means that we are currently over-consuming animal proteins and that is considerably damaging our health and the planet. The production of meat and all related activities accounts for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions. If everyone adopted a plant based diet, global mortality would reduce by 6 to 10%.

Enough said – even without mentioning the worldwide food security benefits this would have. All it takes is for everyday folks to keep that in mind when planning our next meal, and the next one, and the next one…

The bees!

That was perhaps the best presentation I have ever seen – and definitely on a topic I did not expect to become passionate about. This solution may not bee for everyone but it resonated with me. Maybe because Common Ventures has an history of slipping random bee related creative in our work.

Legend Stuart Anderson and his son invented a beehive with a tap to allow painless collection of honey without disrupting the bees. Before their invention, only heavily geared professionals could harvest honey, it was messy and dangerous, it took forever and some bees would get crushed in the process. But they have done more than coming up with a smart tap system, they have democratised beekeeping.

Incidentally, this invention was one of the world most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever. Their goal was $70k. It was reached within 7 minutes of the campaign going live. A few weeks later, the donations added up to $12 million.

Now anyone can be an amateur beekeeper. Since launch 3 years ago, more than 40 thousand people worldwide have done so. The impact is huge because, as we all know, bees are slowly becoming an endangered species but they are absolutely vital to our environment. In other words, save the bees, save the planet. And who can think of a better way to save the bees than allowing everyday folks to keep their own bees and produce honey in their backyards? Apparently it’s quite addictive too.

Of course, this doesn’t work if you live in the concrete jungle, and is only for people dedicated enough to spend a lot of time learning best practice. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight and the last thing we want is thousands of bees being neglected on people’s rooftops. That’s why the Flow Hive inventors are creating communities, educating people, and ensuring that any wannabe backyard beekeepers are getting the skills and knowledge required to properly care for their colonies. Thanks to this invention, bees might be saved from extinction, one backyard at a time.

That whole saving the planet thing may sound overwhelming but it’s actually really simple to make an impact, and anyone can do it without flipping their lives around. It’s all about what we choose to eat, how we manage our homes, and what we buy as an individual but also as a business. Common Ventures might move offices next year, and needless to say we will put a lot of care in choosing the kitchen equipment, AC system and occasional meals we provide to our staff. I’m still working with HR re: the beehive on the rooftop, but even if we only nail the first two, that’s two good reasons to send more staff to next year’s Purpose conference.