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Confessions of a Reluctant Environmentalist

Doing what’s right for the environment will cost you money. It’s a lost investment with no return.

Buying organic foods doesn’t matter…it’s a scam. Taking your money.

Don’t give to charity—they spend too much money on overhead instead of their programs.

Environmental activist? You’re just another tree hugger…an illogical extremist without common sense.

For the most part, I’m proud of the actions I’ve taken to support our planet, and I’m able to quiet the naysayers. I buy organic food and happily support this burgeoning industry because the environmental cost of the alternative is too high. I know most charities are run efficiently because I’ve spent time running a charity. I know leaders in our communities and in business who are powerful, intelligent, sophisticated, and who have a strong environmentalist voice.

But I wasn’t always this committed to our precious planet.

From Pacifist to Activist

I am a pacifist in many ways and have a fundamental belief that every being has the right to set their own course. Since we reap what we sew, we will ultimately be the beneficiary of the results of our actions…for good or bad. This is the way we truly learn from our actions. Now, some of those unskillful actions will have an impact on others and the environment, but if I believe in the above, I must accept the consequences.

There came a tipping point, however, where I couldn’t stand by and simply ignore the issues. A point at which I was compelled to act against unskillful actions.

And that point for me was visiting beautiful places I had been before and finding significant negative environmental change…change caused by humans. On a recent trip to the Cook Islands, I found it almost unrecognizable from when I’d been there in the early 80s due to continuous development. My trips to India and Thailand over the last 30 years linger in my mind because of the extensive deforestation and development that has occurred there. Right here, in our own backyard, we are watching the devastation of the fish stocks—stocks that were incredibly abundant less than a hundred years ago.

I realized that in my desire to live a happier life, I needed to reduce the harm that I was having on myself and others…including our environment.

A Change of Attitude

So, how did I come to grips with my own personal preferences and change my attitude? The process is simple, but—like many simple things—it was not necessarily easy.

First, I had to determine what brought real and lasting value into my life and decide to increase those things.

Second, I had to become aware of the things I did that caused harm that did not bring lasting value into my life and decide to reduce those things.

Once I had a taste of how invigorating the process was, I was motivated to do more. Yes, I had to abandon some of my personal preferences, but so far I have not regretted it one bit.

A New Place

After many years of adjusting, I have now arrived at a new place in my life. I realize that expedience doesn’t have a place when it compromises ideals (or, as I like to refer to them, skillful actions).

My new place is one that is at peace with the circumstances that challenge our globe and people. One that is committed to do what I can to reduce the harm and negative impact that I have as I walk on this earth. It has a focus on building a lasting happiness in my life in order to inspire others to follow suit.

I am not an environmentalist to impress others and gain fame.

I am not an environmentalist to gain popularity, to join a movement, or to feel a sense of belonging.

I am an environmentalist because it is the right thing to do in building a better life for me, which just happens to benefit others.

That approach is selfish.

I am actually okay with being selfish in this instance. For what greater gift can I give than nurturing our greatest common resource—our world?

With this change of direction comes the daunting task of coming to grips with all of the things I do that are harmful. Even now, in spite of my current efforts, there is so much more that I can do that I am not doing.

You are a hypocrite. An imposter.

And that’s okay because it is about taking the first step and walking with confidence. There are naysayers, just like in every other aspect of life, when we choose to challenge the status quo.

I am prepared to listen and learn and grow my happiness through being true to that other, louder voice inside that seeks something greater than the mundane satisfactions offered by the entrapments of everyday life

I now ask myself whether acquiring something will add value to my life in a meaningful way. If it does not, I refuse to buy it. This not only saves money, but it also reduces the impact that my consumerism has on the environment. I no longer buy just because I can.

So, how can we make a difference?

How can we use our business to affect positive change? At Cove, we’ve expanded our goal to include ways we can help our community’s well-being in addition to just the physical environment in which we live.

  • We vet our suppliers for environmental responsibility. We have a checklist that we go through with our suppliers to see how they score on that front.
  • We support other B Corps and 1% For The Planet members by steering our business towards them. In some cases, it cost us more, but we are proud to support them and their causes.
  • We use only 100% recycled paper; we went paperless in terms of our communication as data storage several years ago.
  • We all live close to our office to reduce our impact on travelling to and from work.
  • We became a B Corp to enshrine our environmental and social activism principles into our corporate DNA.
  • We reach out to local schools to engage students in environmentally focused activities (e.g., beach clean ups).
  • Above all else, our engagement at the corporate level in supporting environmental activism has positively influenced our Cove team on a personal basis.
  • Business engagement in environmentalism gives it legitimacy that has a far-reaching effect. With this in mind, we engage with individuals and business leaders with an aim to inspire them to join us on our journey.

We believe that everyone has a right to earn profits and thrive financially, but we also believe there is more to life than just how much money we have. When we reach out to help the environment, we are making a statement that we have enough to share, tying into our philosophy that generosity is an expression of freedom.

Generosity comes from a sense of abundance.

It comes from confidence that we are not limited and from having faith in our future. We cannot give unless we are free from the fear of scarcity. When we give, we experience a deep satisfaction within ourselves that we acted skillfully. We act from an understanding that we are free to let something go without being diminished ourselves.

Generosity is a virtue that is foundational to our personal growth and by extension is something that we can leverage into our corporate goals and objectives. By realizing the importance of the environment as individuals, it becomes clear how our desire to act skillfully (both personally and corporately) can translate into giving to support environmental causes.

Once we have tamed the voices that keep us from acting, giving to the environment for everyone’s benefit becomes easy.

If you are interested in planning to be intentional in your giving, whether it is for the environment or any other cause, give us a call. We love to plan.

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