Category Archives: Environment

Apple’s Greatest Video?

Credit where credit is due.

I’ve roasted Apple (should that be baked?) many times, especially during the Steve Jobs era, but I had a feeling that Tim Cook would take a very different approach to sustainability. His supply chain background almost dictated it.

So, without further ado, here is Apple’s latest effort to use its brand for good, and that matters. It really matters. Watch the videos and then read why it meant so much to me.

 

Not your usual Apple slick, minimalistic, polished marketing advert!

Apple were the epitome of laggards, hiding away from disclosure or action whilst they focused on selling as many of their beautiful innovative tech toys as possible. Nothing new about that. Countless business still take that approach. Probably most businesses in all honesty.

But, Apple were and are one of the biggest mainstream brands in the world, with the accompanying leadership position that should elevate any authentically responsible business to push sustainability not only through their own operation and products, but also their widest sphere of influence including their customers and fans.

Five years ago I wrote a blog hoping, and predicting Tim Cook’s appointment would be a catalyst for change. Such a change was always going to take time. One tweak here, a new appointment there, a commitment to solar, a video celebrating diversity and now this. (notice I omitted Liam the recycling robot – Apple’s Howard the Duck moment)

The video above feels like a milestone moment because it shows Apple is now comfortable enough to be creative and step away from brand norms – which is very out of character – and bold. We desperately need more bold. The work has been done internally and my new hope is that this video is the start of a confident new leadership brand in the sustainability space, or should that be iSustainability?

The biggest challenge of our time is convincing the non-usual suspects to look at the issues people like me call sustainability in a way possibly only Apple could do, to change behaviour at scale.

Congratulations Tim Cook, Lisa Jackson et al, your mark has been made, but how high can you go?

 

 

Reasons To Be Happy

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Happy International Day of Happiness!

*Spoiler: Smurfs will be mentioned*

Companies are bad, everybody knows that. With the exception of a few of the usual suspects such as Patagonia and Unilever, the mainstream reputation of the private sector pretty much stinks wholesale. With trust in business, governments and even charitable organisations at an all time low, occasional pillars of resistance and hope break through the overwhelming greyness. But is that all justified?

I’m lucky, and happy. Beyond the rituals and pains of actually having to get paid for a living I’m fortunate to work in space that generates wellbeing in many ways. My day to day bounces between global and hyper local like a manic game of table tennis. I see many bright shards of hope, optimism and positive impact that seldom reach the ‘fake news’ mainstream media circus. One day I will unleash this goodness formally through ideas that have been gently simmering for many years. I promise.

My favourite current game of ping pong in my world is being played by the global (and local) IMPACT 2030 and a new very local (currently national – somewhere in Scotland I believe) kid on the block, well I say kid, but Stuart at Charging Around Britain is a touch more seasoned than that.

E_2016_SDG_Poster_all_sizes_without_UN_emblem_LetterIMPACT 2030 makes we happy because it pushes the private sector to realise what it really should be, connected groups of people, not homogenous shark-like legal structures hell-bent on profit maximisation. Through facilitating the evolution of corporate volunteering to a more human capital investment ethos IMPACT 2030 reminds us all of the essential humanity of business and the power of impassioned employees. Into the second year of the Sustainable Development Goals during 2017 with accelerating reach, progress and new initiatives IMPACT 2030 will be very much stepping up a gear.

As for Stuart McBain, well, he is one of those entrepreneurs that just did it. Anybody that walks the walk makes me happy. Too many ‘experts’ pontificate and achieve little. After building a successful accountancy firm in Liverpool, Stuart’s next step was to jump in a car and shout out the world to become more sustainable. In the usual very entrepreneurial JFDI method of operation he set off in his new Tesla Model S to be the first to tour the UK coast in an electric car. He left on Friday and will take 23 days to travel these isles whilst visiting any sustainability hotspots on his Charging Around Britain – #Adventure1.

 

Stuart openly admits he has much to learn across the sustainability and renewables space, but just watching his enthusiasm as hopefully an indicator of sea change awareness providing hope for our very uncertain futures.

Profit isn’t a bad word, and there many, many great businesses and business people. Make sure you celebrate the good wherever and whenever you see it.

Enjoy and share your happiness.

Oh, and more Smurfs…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smurfs Up! Tiny Blue Belgians Change The World

For those who hadn’t noticed, my inner-child is quite near the surface. I try desperately to be sensible, responsible and adult like, but the reality is I am proud to add a touch of levity when the setting allows. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the big problems that surround us all locally and as a global community.

So, today, I give you The Smurfs!

Now my inner-child is sated I should reveal the wonderful reason this should be shared far and wide, and not just to children (or bigger kids with jobs).

It is easy to criticise the UN for being abstract and a big part of the problem created by a global community of environmental and social institutions that have for years been preaching for us all to save the world. The response has largely been erm, nope. Not my circus, nor my blue Belgian kids characters.

There is a subtle yet hugely significant change happening. Those who are privy to the gloomy data, science and politics are actually collaborating ever more effectively with people who can translate these urgent messages into the range of tools, voices and formats needed to engage the real army. You. Your children. Your friends. Your cousins. Your cousin’s cousins. Everybody who doesn’t get the immediacy. In short, everybody.

Team Smurfs will rally behind the 17 Goals through to the International Day of Happiness on 20 March 2017. Voice actors from the upcoming animated movie Smurfs: The Lost Village will attend a celebration at United Nations headquarters in New York on Saturday, March 18 to honour youth who have already taken action to achieve the Goals in their own communities.

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“We know that children and young people are some of the world’s most passionate advocates on issues that matter to them the most. We must continue to find new ways to empower them to help achieve a world free from inequality and injustice for every child. This campaign will give children and young people the platform they need to have their voices heard,” said UNICEF Director of Communications Paloma Escudero.

“The campaign message focuses on the notion that every one of us can make a difference, regardless of our size,” said Veronique Culliford, the daughter of Peyo, who created the Smurfs in 1958. “It’s an honor and privilege for The Smurfs to support the United Nations and to continue our longstanding relationship with UNICEF.”

“All of us, even a small Smurf, can achieve big goals!” added Demi Lovato, who voices Smurfette in the upcoming animated film.

Can a kids cartoon change the world? Damn right it can!

Watch it. Talk about it in work. Talk about at home too, and share it like crazy.

www.smallsmurfsbiggoals.com

#SmallSmurfsBigGoals and #TeamSmurfs

 

Almost Amazing – New Video from Google for Entrepreneurs

A quick post to share a great video for a world where entrepreneurship is on its way to becoming as prevalent and appealing as the great employed masses.

I have often waxed lyrical about the strengths of entrepreneurialism in smaller business or corporations alike, but business for the sake of business isn’t what we should be aiming for.

Yes, jobs and wealth generation are the essential to stable functioning economies but with the environmental and social storms on the horizon, we need to be demanding more from any new businesses not already ingrained in an outdated carbon intensive, fuck you world I want a yacht mentality.

Entrepreneurship is wonderful but we, and I mean Google in particular, as they should know better (they know everything don’t they?) should be taking the leadership role by seeding all new businesses with the additional knowledge of a world just over the start up launch day party horizon.

Profit is not a bad word, but it does have a bad reputation.

I’ll just leave a couple of such seeds here…

BCorps – Normal business / better model

Breakthrough Business Models – the shape of future business (pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

A Cunning Plan That Might Just Work

Did you know whilst the world goes to hell in a handbasket à la Trump, Brexit, ISIS, all reality tv, plastic microbeads et al, there is actually a plan to counteract much of humanity’s blatant disregard for our planet and respect for each other?

Ok, that may actually be a first world vision of the underworld, and the real global challenges sit lower down Maslow’s hierarchy, but that is probably too close to the blissfully ignorant view of those outside the Sustainable Development Goals bubble.

As part of my own humble action for #GlobalGoals week I’m going to post every damn day, which for me will be a near miracle when I pull it off, and some of it may even make sense, possibly even inspire an action or several.

So to kick the week off, and the next 14 years, here’s the big plan. It is not mine, but I do like it…

 

Amongst a few ideas I have I will also share an amazing trip last week to New York to jump into the world of #Impact2030 where the private sector is pushing its own efforts through human impact investment (or volunteering if you prefer). I may even cover entrepreneurship, technology, sport and BCorps, but who knows? I don’t. You’ll just have to stay tuned to enjoy the fun!

But, please, do one thing extra this week. Make an hour to read, share or just do something, anything. If you let me know what you did I may even send you a present.

#GlobalGoals

#2030Now

#Impact2030

 

Is Liam Really #TechForGood, or #MarketingForApple?

29 arms of recycling innovation robot beautifully presented (of course) and they call it Liam? Only in the world of Apple.

Whilst hastily allowing myself to lose all focus on the writing I should have been doing today I jumped at the chance to join @TomRaftery as guest co-host for his #TechForGood Google Hangout tomorrow. As I explored previous shows to get a feel for my responsibilities I stumbled back across the ‘Liam’ element of Apple’s recent keynote.

The last few weeks have been something of a blur with many new discussions and projects appearing like the Rebel Alliance out of hyperdrive, but all with an eerily connected technology flavour. The Apple announcement was momentarily noted for their strong focus on responsibility at their key communications event of their calendar, before being usurped by the usual social media avalanche.

I’ve been a long standing frustrated critic of Apple, more from a wasted potential perspective than their actual social or environmental accomplishments, which have been markedly improving over recent years. Tim Cook has many achievements to take credit for, as it can’t have been an easy task to push sustainability up the priority list of the culture moulded by Steve Jobs.

Whilst on the day Lisa Jackson (SVP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives) was conspicuously front and centre, and the privacy debate raging with the FBI obviously adding its influence, Liam felt like the physical hook of attention for a more confident responsibility ethos away from the usual line-up of product launches.

Yes, I know there are only so many ways you can innovate with a phone, and this could be Apple running out of innovative product steam, but the eternal optimist in me is seeing Apple want to be seen as more than just a purveyor of beautiful ‘stuff’. That beauty could be creeping into their approach to their wider responsibilities.

Liam is an allegedly, as I’ve not seen many at all, 29 arm robot that can in a mere 11 seconds recycle a notoriously difficult product into component parts like never seen before. I’ve dreamed of Apple applying its design mastery for a stronger purpose than just music and communications. Was this it?

Maybe. Maybe not. After all there is only one Liam, I believe, and at full speed, could disassemble 1.2 million iPhones per year. Actually, only potentially 1.2 million iPhone 6s units until they teach it about the rest of their product back catalogue. That total would be in the billions. Last year alone Apple sold 230 million phones.

Innovative? Absolutely. Open source and shareable by the whole industry to reduce e-waste? Probably not going to happen (but hoping). Expensive? Absolutely and certainly prohibitively so. Chances of Apple opening recycling depots full of Liams? Slim. Marketing gimmick or potential for true impact? Actions speak louder than YouTube videos, so we shall see.

With over 1 billion smartphone products alone sold every year. A few weeks after the launch Liam now feels more like a lonely Disney Wall-E type character, desperate for a real purpose, a few friends and more trees, but I continue to hope.

Join me and Tom tomorrow at 4.00pm UK to explore this week’s #TechForGood news.

 

 

Thames Deckway Indiegogo Campaign Goes Live

thames_deckway_infographic_2015_10_29-07_1024As promised in the previous post, here is the link to the now live Indiegogo campaign for the next phase of the Thames Deckway concept.

It is already stirring the urban transport debate whilst connecting diverse stakeholder communities. It is big, bold, sustainability focused and could create significant value for London or further afield.

Many answers still lie ahead for the project but visionary leaders like Thames Deckway’s Anna Hill should be given every opportunity to push for safer, cleaner more sustainable transport infrastructure.

Head over, read the latest FAQ’s, pick your favourite support ‘Perk’ and share with friends and colleagues. I’ll be going for the cycling cap I think. I’m just waiting for the temperatures to dip on those long brisk rides.

#walkonwater