It is an indescribable feeling to be surrounded by hundreds of individuals that are passionate about sustainability and protecting the planet, and an even more incredible feeling to know that each of these individuals is actively working to be the change they wish to see in the world.
The 1% For the Planet Global Summit brought together 250 innovators, visionaries, and changemakers focused around finding hope spots: moments of inspiration and true impact. The 1% Summit was one such hope spot. Here’s what we learned from the conference.
- The environment is priority #1
What was clear throughout the summit was that a greater emphasis must be placed in corporate responsibility on protecting the environment and working to stop climate change. Currently, only 3% of philanthropic donations go to the environment, and it is clear that this needs to shift in a radical way to make the environment the #1 priority.
A growing awareness and prioritization of sustainability was everywhere, from Peter Dering’s work with Peak Design to make carbon offsets easy and accessible, Sean Butler’s passion for protecting nature through legislation with Emergent Law, or Katie Rienman’s vision for rethinking plastic with Stasher. The summit showed a genuine commitment to sustainability; even all meals provided were vegetarian and served with reusable tableware. Currently, only 3% of philanthropic donations go to the environment, and it is clear that this needs to shift in a radical way to make the environment the #1 priority.
- Innovate and disrupt
Business as usual isn’t going to cut it anymore. Disruption is the name of the game. Keynote speaker Marc Randolph, co-founder of Netflix, emphasized that “the world is changing and we need to change with it. Examples of this were everywhere. Jocelyn Gaudi Quarrell spoke about how GO Box created a system that allows users to check out reusable containers for takeout. Shanon Tysland discussed how Experience Momentum enables clients to take part in their sustainable giving program, creating a company where clients feel wholly invested in philanthropic ventures.
Push yourself to question your assumptions, think unconventionally, and chase your craziest ideas. As Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and co-founder of 1% For the Planet explained, “life’s a lot easier if you break the rules instead of trying to conform to them. If you invent your own game, you can always be a winner.”
- Nobody knows anything
“Nobody knows anything.” Marc Randolph dropped this bombshell in the middle of his keynote speech. He argued that for every big idea, there will be naysayers and nitpickers, but at the end of the day, it is impossible to know what will flop and what will work. The reality is, no one can tell you if you will succeed or fail. The only way to know is to try, experiment, fail, and try again.
To quote Nolan Bushnell, “everyone who has ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference.”
- Learn how to tell your story
Speakers emphasized the need for effective storytelling and marketing in order to connect with the consumer and make a meaningful impact. More than ever, consumers are interested in company origin stories. People respond to authenticity and inspiration, and it is becoming increasingly clear that fear tactics simply don’t work.
All the better if you yourself would be the type of person to use your product or service. As Michael Jager of Solidarity of Unbridled Labour put it, “you need to make out with your audience.” If it resonates with you and if it’s something you love and would want to protect, then chances are others will too.
- A need for system-wide change
Although it was incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by individuals that were working each day to make a difference, it was clear that there is a need for wide-reaching, systematic change. Elisa Ringholm, Chief of Staff of The Story of Stuff Project, put it beautifully: “individual action for sustainability is a great place to start but a terrible place to stop. For long-lasting solutions we need to go upstream.”
This doesn’t mean that we should stop using reusable bags or recycling, but in addition to these efforts there is a need for government action and a change in corporate culture. As Yvon Chouinard eloquently put it, “don’t get depressed. Get angry. We’re the ones that caused every one of these problems. So, therefore, we’re the ones that have to solve it.”