How and how much we produce are under increasing scrutiny, and that is what we explore in episode 2. Agriculture, mining and manufacturing are rife with challenges – from forced labour, trafficking and deliberate planned obsolescence to unintended consequences and greenwashing.
“Rather than being built to last,” says Dr Vera Hoelscher, “things are so quickly produced for the market, then discarded, and this starts again.”
To change that, we must start with non-toxic, robust materials. We have to think about what happens while products are in use and when they are no longer fit for purpose.
Covid-19 has suppressed production activity, which could appear to be positive, but it has also hurt some of the social and financial inclusion gains of the recent past. According to Ashish Gadnis, the pandemic has led to an increase in child labour and gender inequality. As long as we have invisible, unbankable farmers, miners and waste pickers, we are not creating equitability between richer industrialised countries and poorer nations.
HOW DO WE BRING ABOUT STRUCTURAL CHANGE?
Take policy. Governments should not shy away from taxing whatever is harmful. They can also extend responsibility onto the producer. This has promise, as long as that very responsibility is not shifted to the consumer, or the Global South. We are seeing new circularity models, such as light as a service, and secondhand goods are a rising trend. Still, the sharing economy must not be an excuse for the gig economy, making labour all the more insecure. And producers must stamp out deceptive green marketing spin before it becomes pervasive.
Corporate boards and leadership teams must take ownership, and stay on top of changes in production.
“Be free with your knowledge,” says Brendon Rowen. “Young people, students at universities, are asking the questions. Education will be key to trickle down the expertise.”
The objective of this episode is to contribute to that.
Co-Founder and CEO of BanQu
Prior to BanQu, Ashish Gadnis was the founder and CEO of multiple technology startups, the last one of which was acquired by a $1.5 billion global consulting firm in 2012. Over the past 25 years Ashish has been recognized for his private / public sector contributions with awards such as – MIT Innovate for Refugees (Syrian refugees) award, Young Global Leader (World Economic Forum), Minority Business Leader (Twin Cities Business), 40 under 40 (Business Journal), Change-Makers Innovator Award (Coding Schools in Refugee Camps in East Africa) and Battery Ventures Innovation Award – Democratic Republic of Congo (for Asili: a mobile / cloud-based business focused on reducing infant child mortality, improving maternal health and increasing livelihood in conflict zones).
Cradle to CradleⓇ Design Consultant
Brendon brings his extensive experience in well being, marketing and environmental consultancy to bare on designing and implementing Cradle to Cradle® Circular Economy solutions for SME’s, government organisations and corporations. His international team delivers over 25 years of effective, solutions based expertise into the first conversation.
Lecturer in Marketing, Royal Holloway, University of London
Vera’s research focuses on shared spaces of ethical consumption. Looking at both the physical as well as the digital realm, her aim is to explore the impact sharing space can have on networks of ethical consumption. She recently published an article on the qualitatively different affordances of physical versus digital spaces in the Journal of Business Ethics together with her co-author Dr. Andreas Chatzidakis. Vera is an active member of the Centre of Research into Sustainability at Royal Holloway and co-leads the Digital Organisation and Society’s research cluster on digital inequality, ethics and cyberactivism. Her previous work includes the joint project Life of Electronics that discussed the issues associated with the lifecycle of electronic products, from their design, mining and manufacturing, to their use and, finally, recycling. Together with Rafael Font, Vera organised the Life of Electronics conference in London in 2014, followed by a second chapter in Singapore in 2015.