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The Eco Well podcast

Oct 29, 2019

Economics and business as we know it are broken, and they're amplifying many of our societal problems - our environment being a big one. Can we actually make meaningful steps to addressing climate change, for example, unless we solve this core problem that's fueling it? *New podcast alert*
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - the monetary value of all finished goods and services made within a country during a specific period of time. It provides an 'economic snapshot' of a country, particularly with its growth rate - on an international stage, a higher GDP will win a 'seat at the table', nationally, our politicians will often promote it, economic growth, when they're vying for votes. But what are we growing? In reality, GDP is an abstract number that can only see quantitative things - we're not people, we're consumers. Our resources aren't of value unless we create products with them - when you clear cut trees, the environmental impact of this isn't accounted for in that number... actually, the number just goes up because our domestic product is higher. When there's an oil spill that needs to be cleaned up, that number goes up. When there's a war, that number goes up.  I think we all can agree that it's not good to have an oil spill, and yet, it makes the economy stronger. That same paradox exists with climate change. Relying on GDP as a measure for success means we have to continually have 'growth'. To support this, we have to buy more products and make more, preferably with short lifespan so we can sell even more. If the pressure for 'short terminism' wasn't there, what kind of creativity and innovation would we come up with for our products? As you may imagine, this has largely shaped corporations as we know them today. Did you know that the modern concept of GDP wasn't developed until 1934, becoming a mainstay in 1944 - it hasn't even been 100 years. Clearly, it's not working for us anymore - so how can we start to change that?
While this conversation may seem outside of the scope of cosmetics, if we actually want 'sustainability' in our industry, this should be a part of that discussion. As someone who runs a corporation myself, this is something I find myself thinking about a lot - how can we do business better? If you're interested in the topic of sustainability, whichever angle you're coming at it from, if you haven't considered the role our economy is playing as a roadblock for moving forward, this episode would be a good one to listen to. Featured in this discussion - Dr. Yannick Beaudoin, former chief scientist of GRID-Arendal, a collaboration center of the United Nations Environment Program, and current Director General (Ontario and Northern Canada) for the David Suzuki Foundation.