BARCELONA — Sustainable entrepreneurship — a buzzword in an increasingly eco-conscious business world — is often described as a balance between profit and environmental impact.
It’s a subject that Douglas Tompkins seems to have thought a lot about. He founded Esprit and The North Face, two of America’s most iconic clothing and fashion brands, only to quit the business world to become a staunch conservationalist, environmentalist and critic.
“Remove ‘sustainable’ from your dictionary, there is no sustainable business. Only biological sustainability counts,” he told a room full of business students at the IESE business school Doing Great and Doing Good conference on responsible business. (Disclosure: I moderated a panel at the same conference).
“Economic activity has impact and we are just now doing a better job of measuring what those impacts are,” said Mr. Tompkins in an interview.
A strict conservationalist, he rejects the idea that big business can reform itself and thinks the answer lies outside what he calls the “techno-industrial culture.” He thinks measuring biodiversity is a yardstick for how society is doing.
“Healthy biodiversity is at the base of everything,” he said, with species extinction being the ultimate catastrophe. “We’ll be living on a sand heap with a Norwegian rat and a few cockroaches at the end.”
Despite having co-founded ESPRIT, the multinational clothing giant, and The North Face, the maker of outdoor equipment, in the 1960s and having earned millions of the sale of the former, Mr. Tompkins is critical of business’s paradigms.
“We have an economy that’s based on growth without limits,” he said. “How is that possible?”
“To grow and grow and grow without limits is out of the question,” he said.
Even the companies that he is famous for launching do not escape his disapproval.
Former MSNBC host and author of the book Greedy Bastards Dylan Ratigan has announced that after leaving his show in June of 2012, he has re-launched his life as an organic, hydroponic farmer. In an open letter on his website DylanRatigan.com, Ratigan proclaimed that his life changed direction when he found himself burnt out by “hollow political debates” and “in search of meaning and purpose in my work and life.”
Ratigan said that it was meeting a Marine combat veteran war protester and his wife who appeared on “The Dylan Ratigan Show” in June that inspired him. The couple explained to him a technique for hydroponic farming that reportedly uses 90 percent less water than a conventional farm, but produces three times as much food.
100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope and the end of his hope. In the mirror he saw a 310lb man whose gut was bigger than a beach ball and a path laid out before him that wouldn’t end well- with one foot already in the grave, the other wasn’t far behind. FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD is an inspiring film that chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health. With doctors and conventional medicines unable to help long-term, Joe turns to the only option left, the body’s ability to heal itself. He trades in the junk food and hits the road with juicer and generator in tow, vowing only to drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for the next 60 days. Across 3,000 miles Joe has one goal in mind: To get off his pills and achieve a balanced lifestyle. While talking to more than 500 Americans about food, health and longevity, it’s at a truck stop in Arizona where Joe meets a truck driver who suffers from the same rare condition. Phil Staples is morbidly obese weighing in at 429 lbs; a cheeseburger away from a heart-attack. As Joe is recovering his health, Phil begins his own epic journey to get well. What emerges is nothing short of amazing – an inspiring tale of healing and human connection. Part road trip, part self-help manifesto, FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD defies the traditional documentary format to present an unconventional and uplifting story of two men from different worlds who each realize that the only person who can save them is themselves.
You need a slow juicer to get all the benefits from juicing! (Normal juicers destroy all enzymes and heat sensitive vitamins.)
A 14-year-old New York student was named “America’s Top Young Scientist” for inventing a solar-powered water jug that changes dirty water into purified drinking water. Deepika Kurup not only surpassed 9 finalists with her science and math skills to win $25,000 from Discovery Education and 3M, she persuaded the judges with a dynamic five-minute LIVE presentation about the plight of a billion poor people who have no access to clean drinking water.
California innovation experts counseling Malaysia’s development drive
An innovative, high-tech “smart village” built in Malaysia provides a potential global template for addressing rural poverty in a sustainable environment, say international experts meeting in California’s Silicon Valley.
Rimbunan Kaseh, a model community built north-east of Kuala Lumpur, consists of 100 affordable homes, high-tech educational, training and recreational facilities, and a creative, closed-loop agricultural system designed to provide both food and supplementary income for villagers.
Malaysian Dato’ Tan Say Jim detailed the project Monday at a special meeting in San Jose of the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) — a unique assembly of all-star international and Malaysian experts and leaders created to guide sustainable Malaysian development.
The “smart village,” located on 12 hectares in the Malaysian state of Pahang, includes a four-level aquaculture system whereby water cascades through a series of tanks to raise, first, fish sensitive to water quality, then tilapia (“the world’s answer to affordable protein,” says Mr. Tan), then guppies and finally algae. The latter two products are used to feed the larger fish.