Collaboration not Competition

An Innovation, Technology & Design Summit recently took place in Sydney, with the goal of businesses sharing their efforts and contributions towards sustainability. A lot came out of the many sessions which took place with a range of topics including fashion, technology, medicine and health care, food, packaging, transport, circularity and manufacturing. Understanding further about the capacity for businesses to make contributions to a sustainable future was really valuable and is something which should be promoted more. A key finding which came out of the summit, which was reflected in many sessions and topics, was the concept of having collaborators and not competitors. Typically, a lot of development within communities and around the world is often associated with the not-for-profit sector and with charities. Whilst it’s good to have the work that’s being done with many development organisations, I think it can be limiting to have it exclusive to just these spaces. With a growing awareness about climate change, global warming, pollution and waste now is the time to innovate and share the responsibility of a sustainable planet and future, beyond the not-for-profit sector. A panellist at one of the sessions at the summit highlighted their thoughts around business models and shared their belief of approaching work with the mindset of “we don’t have competitors, we have collaborators”. Rethinking development in this way is a conscious shift from a model of aggression and rivalry to partnership and team work. It’s great to encourage businesses to support and align themselves with charities or important causes however, increasing awareness as to how businesses can make modifications and reduce things like their carbon footprint, with the goods or services which they produce, may make more of an impact. For example, the summit was informative of enhancing awareness about the detrimental impact which food packaging has on the planet. I was surprised to hear that food packaging can cause more harm to the environment than animal production for consumption and travelling by aeroplane. Whilst today I feel that people are generally quite informed about environmental degradation, being informed across a wider range of things which harm the planet and people, which have the most harmful affect like food packaging, can highlight areas where businesses can be more involved in making modifications to their outputs. In terms of greater individual responsibility fashion and waste was brought up. Today there are increased rates of consumption and production of clothes. The concept of how something can be reused and what people now are calling “preloved” clothes was discussed. How people can learn about proper care for their clothes so that countless items don’t continue to end up in landfill each year is the goal; or when clothes no longer serve a purpose to ensure that they are donated and not thrown away. Overall, whether there is work done at the individual or organisational level to contribute to a more sustainable world, success will be achieved through more collaborative action; where the outputs are focused on sustainability directly.

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Meet meat

Today there is a different level of consciousness when it comes to food consumption and our food chain. Even though we are more removed from seeing how meat and animal products are produced, there is a greater movement towards veganism and more plant-based diets. Throughout history, and in some areas today, how people produce animals and animal products for consumption has and is treated with much more care and ethics. I believe that the more we tried to produce animals and animal products for consumption to cater to such a mass audience and at a low cost, is when many people started to see the negative circumstances and detrimental results of doing this. By this I mean the inhumane conditions which animals are confined to, the outcome of having such a high number of animals alive for consumption impacting the environment and the health impacts of consuming as much meat and animal products as many of us do today. I understand that many people argue that we have consumed animals for centuries, protest about their need for specific nutrients and protein or say “it is just the food chain and the way things are done”; which I generally think is a lazy argument. As I mentioned, there have been recent changes in the production of meat and animal products increasing the amount of antibiotics and harmful additives pumped into meat and animal products and changes to the way animals are held and treated at mass producing farms. So, it is not the way things have always been done. I think as humans many of us have a fractured relationship with animals, which is why some of these contradicting behaviours and opinions occur. In certain instances some people will go to the ends of the earth to defend meat eating and in other instances when there are animals in our care the same people will show extreme affection and love towards them; sometimes even going the extra mile and show better care to the animals than they would to humans. I watched an episode of a TV show on SBS called ‘Insight’ which explored the topic of meat and animal product consumption. There was a chef on the episode who was part of the discussion. He mainly discussed that from his perspective, in the Western world, there is so much waste when it comes to food. He continued to argue that if anything we should focus on being more conscious of this waste and be educated and encouraged to make use of the whole animal. What I generally take away from the meat vs no meat debate is to be more conscious and change the way we consume and grow animals and animal products, and work towards consuming more of the animal and savouring it. How I generally consume meat and animal products is by choosing providers which source from organic and genuine free-range farmers. I believe that by reverting to previous forms of meat and animal product production, there will be reduced environmental degradation, enhanced ethics in the way we treat animals and improved health. I believe in veganism and I also believe in significantly reducing the amount of meat and animal product consumption.

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