In my opinion, the root cause of economic inequality and environmental destruction is the same. We are perpetuating a system that has as its fundamental principle growth at all costs, using profit as the only metric of success. Unchecked growth that necessitates the constant consumption of limited resources just sounds unsustainable. In chemistry, we call this the limiting reagent. When the limiting reagent in a reaction runs out, the reaction ceases. To continue to prop up and herald this destructive expansion is insane. Not to mention, all this growth has served to make very few extremely rich and left the vast majority of people extremely poor and vulnerable to increasing environmental instability.
In addition to being unsustainable environmentally, in many cases our personal values are at odds with our employment options. We spend more time at work and less time doing the things that make life worthwhile. Somebody at the top of the chain is making exponentially more money than those putting in 60-hour work weeks at the bottom. This isn’t everyone’s story. It’s not my story but then, I work for a small business with core values that feature environmental sustainability and work-life balance.
“An old road always leads to an old destination. If we want to reach a new destination very different from the old one, we have to build a new road. There are no exceptions to this rule.” – Muhammad Yunus.
I work out of an office at the Centre for Social Innovation on Spadina Avenue. CSI is a membership based social enterprise that offers shared workspace for problem solvers and innovators. It connects charities, nonprofits and social businesses in a community that puts people before profit – a community of change-makers.
One of these change-makers was featured on GreeninTO last fall: Random Acts of Green. Founder Jessica Correa wanted to promote environmentally conscious behaviour while helping green organizations with marketing and social media.
Social businesses are vehicles for sustainable change. As Yunus talks about in his book, as we forge new roads we know that we cannot continue to build our society on the energy of limited resources and industries that pollute our air, water and land. We need new ideas, new businesses and a new economic framework.
How will you contribute to these new roads?