Interested in applying to PGC Finals? The application process will begin on Day 26, so be sure to log in and read the Day 26 challenge!
“The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.”
– Gaylord Nelson, activist, politician and founder of Earth Day
When you think about the economics of a healthy, just and thriving planet, there is quite a bit to consider, learn and understand.
The terms “capital” and “value” typically have one association: money. But a truer reflection of the market would include natural capital. Natural capital is the “world’s stock” of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water, and all living things. The economy relies heavily on natural capital, yet all too often the economy is still seen as separate from the environment. Take a few minutes to watch this video by environmentalist and actor Adrian Grenier simplifying this tricky concept.
Unfortunately, our current market system subsidizes environmentally-destructive practices and restricts ethics and conservation efforts in business. Concepts like true cost accounting address this by looking at impacts on the environment, soil, climate, biodiversity, and public health when determining an item’s cost. Here is a short filmfrom Lexicon of Sustainability illustrating just that.
One key framework through which to view sustainable economics is a circular economy. Our standard economy follows a linear model; we create, use, then dispose of products. This causes staggering amounts of pollution, emits vast quantities of greenhouse gases, and necessitates unsustainable natural resource extraction. Conversely, circular economies have three core principles: designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. A 2019 UN study found that switching to a circular economy will be a critical part of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
While a worldwide transition to a sustainable economy is vital, every individual choice plays a role in the global system. Nearly everything we buy comes from natural resources: trees, water, coal, minerals, and so on. Our dollar has more power over the fate of our planet than we may believe. Every choice we make as consumers matters!
So how can we be consumers and still care for the planet? Conscious consumption! Making decisions that have a net positive impact on the planet takes many forms:
Conservation. First and foremost, buy fewer things. Consuming less means you are conserving natural resources and preserving them for generations to come. This may mean spending a bit more when you do make smart, quality purchases that will last (since many cheaply-made products come at an artificially low price; think true cost accounting). Remember, less is always more when supporting our planet.
Vote with your dollar. Wherever possible, purchase ethically and sustainably made products. Luckily, there are plenty of businesses working to create a global benefit. Check out the B Corp Declarationor One Percent for the Planet for an idea of how business can be forces for good. See these principles in action with B Corp companies like our partner, Everyone, which prioritizes people, planet, and profit: the “triple bottom line.”
Divest. It’s not only about how you use your dollar, but also where you put your dollar. Banks invest money, so when you put your money in a bank, you are funding what they choose to support. Consider banks with ethics that align with your values. Check out what your bank is funding here. Divest from banks that support environmental harm and put your money into funds that support people, communities, and planet. That change is easily doable!
Prioritizing sustainability in daily life is possible with planning, intention and smart budgeting. If we use less, consume less, reuse, and shift behavior, we will see that individual action leads to massive collective impact.
Thousands of corporations and businesses with significant power to make a difference are using for-profit enterprises for positive global impact. One way businesses are committing to reducing inequality, lowering levels of poverty, working toward a healthier environment, strengthening communities, and creating more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose is by becoming a Certified B Corp. B Corps use profit and growth as a means to place people and planet before profit, equaling positive impact for employees, communities, and the environment, a trio commonly referred to as the triple bottom line.
To get started, watch these videos here and here to help understand the positive impact businesses can have. Then browse the B Corps website to become familiar with companies that stand for change.
Research one B Corp and how that business integrates a triple bottom line into the business model.
Upload a PDF Document your response. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
Part of what makes our current economic system so unsustainable is its linear model. Products are created, serve a purpose for a short amount of time, and are then disposed of. We perpetuate this wasteful consumerism when we throw away items, whether because broken, no longer serving a purpose, or simply out of style. A shift away from this toward a circular mindset can help support a thriving future.
First, watch today’s video explaining the basics of the circular economy and its potential for creating a sustainable future. Then, read this article about how to implement circular economic principles into your everyday life.
Time to get creative! One of the coolest ways to think circularly is to repurpose old items into something new, beautiful, and useful AKA upcycling. Upcycle something in your life! Check out ideas here and here or be entirely unique. There is no wrong way to upcycle!
Take a photo of your creation and post it to social media, along with a caption describing your upcycled creation, what the circular economy is, and how consumers can implement ways to ‘close the loop’ in their own lives. Tag @TurningGreenOrg and #PGC2019.
Upload a PDF Document with your response. Include a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
How can you live within your budget in a sustainable way? This challenge will test problem-solving skills and innovation to benefit yourself and the planet.
Develop a budget of what you spend weekly or monthly. Two helpful resources are Mint or YNAB. Think about where most discretionary spending goes. Could any of this be eliminated if, for example, you bring a reusable water bottle instead of buying a drink in a single-use container? Or other simple shifts?
Upload a PDF Document with your responses. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
Up to 10 Greener and 10 Greenest of the most outstanding submissions will be chosen as winners and awarded prize points to redeem in the PGC Prize Store. Greener wins = 75 prize points, Greenest wins = 100 prize points. Check the Winners page to see if you’re selected!
5 submissions will be randomly selected to receive:
Everyone 3-in-1 Citrus Mint Soap
Everyone Face Cleanser
Everyone Face Moisturizer
Everyone Face Exfoliator & Mask
Everyone Face Hydrating Toner
Everyone Hand Sanitizer Spray
Each time you submit a challenge, you get an entry. Complete Green, Greener, and Greenest to triple your chances!
Extended deadlines and extra credits do not apply.