Day 9

Economics

 

SPONSORED BY EVERYONE

 

OVERVIEW

“In nature’s economy the currency is not money, it is life.” ~Vandana Shiva, Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace

When most people think about “capital,” their first association is money. We speak of economic status, costs, stocks and bonds, but capital is more than a numbers game. It encompasses all of the earth’s natural resources: food, land, air, water, oil, minerals, people, and much more. That’s what we’re referring to when talking about “natural capital” and how all resources have economic value.

Our choices and actions play a role in the global economy. Every day, we choose how to manage our finite resources in order to satisfy needs and wants. Those choices, and the intention and motivations behind them, matter.

How can we live sustainably within a budget and the global economy, in a way that allows for the earth and its species to thrive?

Conservation. Consuming less of vital natural resources allows for preservation for generations to come.

Vote with your dollar to purchase products made sustainably and ethically. We spend billions each year, and millions every minute, on goods and services. Our collective choices have the power to affect change and to transform world markets in a way that supports both people and planet. Many businesses aspire to not only do no harm, but also benefit all, like the principles articulated in the B Corp Declaration. Companies, like Everyone, consider people and planet, as well as profit, a trio that is commonly referred to as a triple bottom line.

Problem-solve. As you become more aware of how you use the earth’s resources, you will also become more sensitive to important economic issues like global warming and just wages for laborers. Coffee is one example. Small-scale farmers produce much of the high-end coffee we drink and get paid very little for their work. Buying fair trade coffee is one option, but it might not always be the best for your budget. There are other ways to inspire human-centered problem solving if we all just stop and think with intention.

Sustainability is described as having three pillars: social, environmental, and economic. Today we want to focus on the pillar that often gets overlooked when thinking about sustainable living: economics. Before we dive into the economics of sustainability, there are a couple terms that are helpful to know:

Natural Capital: this refers to the economic value of all of the earth’s natural resources: lands, air, water, oil, minerals, and much more. The economy relies heavily on natural capital assets, yet all too often the economy is still seen as separate from the environment. Economic activities today are extracting natural capital faster than the earth is able to replenish these key resources, putting the environment, and thus our health and livelihoods, at risk.

Ecosystem Services: this term is used to describe the many different services that the natural world provides society, often taken for granted. Trees absorb CO2 and provide oxygen, plant extractions are used for traditional and modern medicine, and we can’t survive without clean, accessible freshwater. According to the World Conservation Union, the monetary value of goods and services provided by natural capital is estimated to be US$33 trillion per year. Yet nature provides everything free of charge.

When asking people about the obstacles to sustainable living, we often hear that they can’t afford to do so. Goods produced ethically are too expensive. While it is true that ethical products appear to cost more initially, there are true costs of “fast and cheap” goods that aren’t represented on the price tag – but are much larger than the extra dollars for fair trade coffee or an organic t-shirt! With a shift in mindset and purchasing power, you can actually save money while investing in a healthy and thriving future.

Unfortunately, we exist in a broken system that subsidizes environmentally-destructive practices and restricts ethical intentions. Companies who deplete natural resources, pollute the environment and exploit slave-like working conditions are able to put products on the shelf at cheaper prices than brands who instill environmentally sustainable and socially responsible values into their business practices. That’s why it’s important to think about your purchases as investments, not spendings.

Our partner Green America talks about the importance of social investing, and how your financial choices today can influence a more equitable world tomorrow. The discussion of “environmental economics” is a relatively recent phenomenon, and plenty of organizations are working to transform economic systems to fit a more sustainable global framework. Friends of the Earth has developed an entire Economics for the Earth program to help advocate for policies and consumer habits that “fund a brighter future.”

Living sustainably on a budget is possible; it just requires planning and smart budgeting. That is, saving in one area to spend more in another. By spending less on goods that were designed for the dump, you save more to invest in high-quality products that will last a lifetime. By planning ahead and overcoming the temptations of “use and throw away” convenience, we can create a more conscious consumer community.

CHALLENGE

Green

20 POINTS

 

THINK

The economy is made up of producers (corporations, businesses, etc.) and consumers (you!). While our collective choices as consumers have the power to transform world markets, the power of corporations to shift the paradigm is infinite! Luckily, many businesses aspire to do no harm and benefit all, like the principles articulated in the B Corp Declaration. B Corps place people and planet before profit, a trio that is commonly referred to as the triple bottom line.

 

CHALLENGE

  • Browse through the B Corps website to become familiar with the different companies that are “being the change” in the world
  • Research 3 different B Corp companies (hint: our corporate partner of the day, Everyone, is one) and how they are integrating the idea of a triple bottom line into their business model
  • For each company that you researched, share at least two ways in which they are benefiting people, the planet, and/or the economy

 

DELIVERABLES

Upload a PDF Document with your responses. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.

Submission Guidelines

  • Please submit all entries as PDFs – no word or pages docs.
  • Please save filenames using the following format: firstname_lastname_challengeday_challengelevel.pdf (ex: kasie_shils_day1_greener.pdf)
  • Do not include # in filenames
  • Please be sure to include all content for your submission in one doc
  • Do not upload a file bigger than 5 MB
  • Link images if possible
  • You will get a confirmation that your submission uploaded correctly. If you did not get a confirmation, please try again.
  • If your total points do not change, your submission did not load correctly and you will have to try again.
  • Send any questions you have to info@turninggreen.org
  • Don’t forget to post about the challenge and your learnings/doings on social media and tag us on Facebook @TurningGreen, on Twitter @TurningGreenOrg, and on Instagram @TurningGreenOrg and use #PGC2016.
The deadline for entering this challenge has past.

Greener

40 POINTS

THINK

How can you live sustainably within your budget in a way that allows for the earth and its species to thrive? Consuming less “stuff” and voting with your dollar are good places to start! While actions like stopping by your local Starbucks to buy a cup of coffee are seemingly inexpensive on a day-to-day basis, these costs really add up in the long run.

CHALLENGE

  • Read through our blog post about Conscious Shopping on a College Budget
  • Put together an assessment of your weekly or monthly expenditures and share it. Where does most of your discretionary spending go? Could any of this be eliminated if you had say a reusable alternative? For example, buying water every day vs. using a reusable bottle.
  • Do a cost-saving analysis of your assessment. How can you save in one area to invest more in another? In addition to the savings in dollars, would your purchases also lessen environmental impact?
  • Share three benefits of managing your budget in this way and investing in goods made with integrity.

 

Deliverables

Upload a PDF Document with your responses. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.

Submission Guidelines

  • Please submit all entries as PDFs – no word or pages docs.
  • Please save filenames using the following format: firstname_lastname_challengeday_challengelevel.pdf (ex: kasie_shils_day1_greener.pdf)
  • Do not include # in filenames
  • Please be sure to include all content for your submission in one doc
  • Do not upload a file bigger than 5 MB
  • Link images if possible
  • You will get a confirmation that your submission uploaded correctly. If you did not get a confirmation, please try again.
  • If your total points do not change, your submission did not load correctly and you will have to try again.
  • Send any questions you have to info@turninggreen.org
  • Don’t forget to post about the challenge and your learnings/doings on social media and tag us on Facebook @TurningGreen, on Twitter @TurningGreenOrg, and on Instagram @TurningGreenOrg and use #PGC2016.
The deadline for entering this challenge has past.

Greenest

60 POINTS

THINK

As a conscious consumer, you’ll quickly realize that when it comes to “stuff”, less truly is more. Consuming less material goods and valuing quality over quantity will make more room in your life for experiences (i.e. the moments, relationships, and events that create genuine, long-lasting happiness). So now that you’ve learned how to budget for a conscious lifestyle, it’s time to put your math to the test.

CHALLENGE

Imagine yourself moving into a new dorm, house or your first apartment and purchasing a first set of everyday items: small appliances, cleaning items, food staples, etc. What would you include?

  • Curate a shopping list that contains all of the things you would need to start a life in your new place. Find the most ethical product in each category to stock your space. Consider both the environmental and social impact of the items you will purchase.
  • Check out these tips for living sustainably without breaking the bank and create a realistic budget for yourself
  • Create a Pinterest board or creative visual with a minimum of 15 thoughtfully selected items. Include descriptions and prices for each.
  • Maximize budget and minimize impact; consider DIY options for things like cleaning or personal care products
  • Based on your Pinterest board or visual, create a side-by-side comparison shopping list that shows conventional products and their generic price on one side and your conscious alternative with its price on the other (keep in mind what you have learned about ingredients and verified labels, social and environmental impact)
  • Add up both budgets and share the total costs for each
  • Is it easier or harder than you thought to shop sustainably and affordably?

 

DELIVERABLES

Upload a PDF Document with your responses. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.

Submission Guidelines

  • Please submit all entries as PDFs – no word or pages docs.
  • Please save filenames using the following format: firstname_lastname_challengeday_challengelevel.pdf (ex: kasie_shils_day1_greener.pdf)
  • Do not include # in filenames
  • Please be sure to include all content for your submission in one doc
  • Do not upload a file bigger than 5 MB
  • Link images if possible
  • You will get a confirmation that your submission uploaded correctly. If you did not get a confirmation, please try again.
  • If your total points do not change, your submission did not load correctly and you will have to try again.
  • Send any questions you have to info@turninggreen.org
  • Don’t forget to post about the challenge and your learnings/doings on social media and tag us on Facebook @TurningGreen, on Twitter @TurningGreenOrg, and on Instagram @TurningGreenOrg and use #PGC2016.
The deadline for entering this challenge has past.