• Impact Revolution Podcast

    024 Masaaki Hasegawa: Unleashing creativity for sustainability and happiness

    Meet Masaaki, a designer, artist, consultant – and expert on creativity!

    Masaaki Hasegawa art calligraphy sustainability happiness happy sustainability creativity

    Unleash your own creative potential

    In this podcast episode, we talk about the importance of education and empowerment of individuals so they can unleash the potential they already have inside of them.

    Masaaki believes that everyone is creative and that each of us can use their own creativity to create something great. As author of several books about creativity, he never had a background in practcing arts himself – until someone challenged him to do so. Only two years ago, he decided to demonstrate, that anyone can become an artist, and has been extremely successful with it since. His calligraphy paintings have been featured in more than 10 exhibitions in the past year, and has already been honoured as the global ambassador of the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy.

    Masaaki Hasegawa art calligraphy sustainability happiness happy sustainability creativity impact revolution podcast Masaaki Hasegawa art calligraphy sustainability happiness happy sustainability creativity impact revolution podcast Masaaki Hasegawa art calligraphy sustainability happiness happy sustainability creativity impact revolution podcast

    (Copyright to: Masaaki Hasegawa, www.masaakih.com)

    What role do you play in society?

    It’s important we all reflect on the different roles each of us play in society, and what the impact is that you leave behind – does it make you happy and reflect your values? Masaaki reminds us that the roles are not given or fixed, and up to us to modify in the way that truly represents the change we want to see. Masaaki himself sees that his role in society, no matter if related to art, design or education is always about empowering others to see their potential, recognise their role and and make a positive difference.

    Sustainability as force for innovation

    He believes that sustainability allows us to higher our perspective and make new connections that we otherwise would not have seen. It is a way to innovate, find new approaches and create progress. Like this, sustainability can make us more successful both personally and professionally.

    Sustainability is something that can accompany you in the longer time and get rid of short-term, narrow-minded thinking. It helps us to be aware of the things in our „blind spot“ and see beyond what we are used to.

    Create your own happiness

    Lastly, we speak about the moment when what you think, say and do are in harmony: happiness. Masaaki shares how he believes we all can lead a happier life, and share that happiness with those around us. We already have everything it takes to be happy and creative inside of us, so let’s live fully, love and do what we believe in, we only have one life after all!

     

    More on Masaaki: 

    https://www.masaakih.com/

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/masaaki-hasegawa-2a863153/

    https://www.creativida.org/about

     

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    023 The Circular Economy

    The circular economy is a fascinating concept: it is a way to reorganise our society in a more sustainable way that creates a win-win-win situation for consumers, producers and the environment. I’m a huge fan myself and believe that everyone interested on sustainability topics should know something about the circular transformation. And that’s why this episode is dedicated to circularity! 

    So what is this circular economy?

    As it’s name suggests, the circular economy reorganises our economic system in continuous circles, or loops. It is built on Michael Braungart and William McDonough’s principle of “cradle to cradle”, the understanding that all resources shall be used and reused over and over again. By seeing waste as food for new things, the circular economy eliminates the idea of trash as we know it, and sees every component as valuable even after the life cycle of its original use is over. And of course, the circualr economy uses renewable energy sources of greener production, too.

    The circular ecocnomy uses a methodology called biomimicry, which basically means imitating nature. Think about it: in nature, waste simply doesnt exist, everyhing is one ecosystem. If a tree produces an apple, it gets eaten and digested by an animal, then pooped out somewhere else where a new plant can grow. Each leave that falls down or animal that dies will naturally decompose into healthy soil. Landfills, and the accumulation of resources that find no further use are a fairly stupid invention of human beings that have never before existed in the natural environment.

    Why do we need a circular system? 

    There is a strong connection between globalization, our spike in consumption and climate change: In the last century, the world population has quadrupled and our economic output was multiplied by twenty, and we’re now stretching far beyond what our planet can naturally provide.

    Last year, human production and consumption already needed 1.7 earths to recover all the resources we used – this means we are irreversibly damaging the natural ecosystem. On top, our waste generation is getting out of hand, household trash alone is expected to double and reach 3,000 million tons per year in 2030.

    And as the population keeps rising, so does the amount of people entering the middle class and aspriring the western lifestyle – so increasing the demand for cars, meat, devices, clothes and so on, or to put it simply: stretching our resource extraction and waste generation even more.

    It’s not only the amount of resources and products we consume and the trash we generate,  it is also the way we do it.

    We buy, use, and throw away, we make, take and dispose. Every few months, it seems, we need a new cellphone, every few weeks new clothes. And what happens with our stuff after we use it is something we barely think about – all that matters is to be always up to date.

    Global supply chains make us forget where our products even come from, how they work and how we could repair them. On top, products are often engineered in a way that is neither made to last nor to repair, a strategy called built-in obsolescence

    The cost for the environment of our linear economy is huge: Just the electronic waste we produce in Europe per year amount to 1.500 million tons of co2, as much as the energy production in Germany, the UK and Poland together, as the European Environmental Buerau calculates.

    As Ken Webster, one of the leading economists of the Ellen McArthur foundation, points out, the linear „take, make dispose“ model is based on on short-term profitability and dependent on the abundance of materials, easy credit, low-priced energy and cheap labour. However, all of these factors are becoming more and more expensive due to legislations, economic development, increasing labour right awareness and learnings from the global financial crisis.

    Changing the way we make things

    The circular economy on the other hand frees itself from the dependency of such factors by redesigning production and consumption. 

    As Hawken, Lovens and Lovens describe in their book  Natural Capitalism, increasing natural productivity and moving from a product- to a service based economy are some ways to realise the circular economy. It provides us with an opportunity to source from materials that are already available and engage in new sorts of innovation. This way, we can alleviate many of the previously mentioned pressures on the natural environment: it reduces virgin resource usage, carbon emissions, waste creation and the release of toxins.

    Creating a win-win-win situation

    he fantastic news is that the circular economy  can provide a win-win-win situation: companies can grow their profits, customers save costs and the environment become more sustainable. McKinsey has calculated that  circular economy has the potential to generate annual economic benefits of €1.8 trillion by 2030 in Europe alone.  Even though you might think that we Europeans are not doing not such a bad job in recycling, research shows that we currently capture only 5% of raw materials this way – that leaves a 95% opportunity for improvement and value creation!

    Also, the circular economy can provide new jobs and improve the overall wellbeing of everyone in society.  They further estimate that each of us Europeans could save 60-80% in mobility expenses, reduce our food spending by 25-40% and also decrease our housing costs by 25-35%. In this way, fighting climate change could not only improve the water and air around us, but also give us more money to spend on things we really like. Isn’t that good news?

    How to make it happen

    One of the main barriers of implementing the circular economy are high economic investments from the public sector to guarantee necessary research, design, subsidies, asset investment as well as digital and physical infrastructure. The British government has calculated that on a european level, a fully efficient reuse and recycling system would require costs of €108 billion. Reality looks different: the European Commission only commits to around 6 billion euro for this program.

    And apart from sufficient financing, both business and policy leaders must adopt a different mentality to think about production, product lifecycles and material usage and shift their focus from short-term profitability (or election periods) to sustainability and success in the long term. We as customers must understand and demand circular products, make switches and refuse the comfort of their current disposable lifestyle .

    Furthermore, business and policy must show willingness to collaborate rather than compete, as knowledge sharing is one of the key elements of the circular economy: there needs to be an active exchange of skills, technologies and research in order to create system-wide loops and facilitate the composition, decomposition and new assembly of a variety of products. I’ve spoken about the benefits of an open source circular economy with economist and artist Lars Zimmerman, in an earlier episode of Impact Revolution.

    Also, states must provide necessary infrastructure to facilitate the flow of materials, such as recycling facilities, sorting and collection systems and give access to all actors along the supply chain, including the end-user. That means that it should become easy for you as a consumer to get rid of the things you no longer use and disassemble them into their reusable components.

    Circular solutions already exist

    Let me give you some examples of circular solutions that area already out there!

    1) Recycle and recover

    These are business models based on recyclable materials which we usually see as waste. Its a very important step for greener production, as the extraction of raw resources can take around 75% of the whole energy necessary in the manufacturing process. Examples here are streets built out of plastic waste and a British brewery that uses old bread to make delicious beer. What a solution to food waste!    

    2) Replace materials

    The Circular supply chain tries to find alternatives for rare or environmentally harmful resources, such as smartphone components or water-intense cotton and replace them with renewable, reusable materials. These are companies that make rain jackets out of pet bottles or grow vegan leather out of mushrooms.

    3) Make it last

    Here it is imporatant to increase the lifetime of each product. We usually throw things away becasue they break, they become out of fashion or we simply do’t need them anymore. In each of those cases, there is still some value in the product, so we need to find ways to make it easier to reuse, repair, sell second hand and update products that are already there. Secondly, companies should take the end of the product life into account by making decomposion of products as easy as possible.

    4) Share   

    Sharing platforms are a big deal in the circular economy – and something our generation loves! I probably won’t have to tell anyone how airbnb or carsharing works and in which way it improves our resource consumption, but have you ever heard of a library of things where you can rent electric drills or lawnmowers? The digitalisation makes it so much easier to connect and share with others, especially since we use 80% of the things we own less than once a month.

    5) Services, not products

    Connected to the sharing economy are models where the producers remain the owner of what they make, and merely rent it out to the end users. Philips now sells light as service to buildings instead of light bulbs, which drastically shifts the objectives of their engineers and sales people. Instead of focusing at high quantity and lower quality, engineers now have to create the best and most durable bulbs, and suddenly energy efficiency of their products reflects directly on the company’s balance sheet. And even if  a product fails, it goes back directly to the producer, becomes his responsibility and available for repair or reuse. See the difference?

    There is hope

    This podcast episode should be able to give you the basics of the circular economy, make you learn why it makes so much sense and in which way it would be possible to realise. One of the most powerful characteristics of this model is the win-win-win situation it describes, and to me the fact that both governments and corporations, as well as many entrepreneurs are already working on creating circular products and processes is a clear symbol that we’re on the right way. Let’s use the power we have through our purchasing decisions and support anyone in transition to this model!

    If you have any further questions on this, please get in touch! You can reach me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/theimpactrevolution/) and Instagram (instagram.com/impact_revolution/) – I’m excited to read your messages.

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    022 Dhruv Boruah: Rivercycling against plastic pollution

    Adventures for a purpose

    Dhurv Boruah is an adventurer and entrepreneur who loves challenges out of the ordinary. He steps out of his comfort zone and embarks on journeys with a purpose, such as driving an ambulance from Madrid to Mongolia, sailing the Atlantic ocean against plastic pollution or crossing ice to raise awareness for climate change.

    One special thing about most of his adventures is the fact that Dhruv never shies back before anything if he lacks a skill. He leaned how to swim while sailing on the ocean and skied the first time when crossing the ice in the High Arctic. He really lives what it means that nothing is impossible!

    Cycling against plastic

    For his most recent campaign, The Thames Project, Dhruv built a floating bike to cycle on the river and collect plastic in the meantime. This way, he was able to talk to citizens, members of parliament, news broadcasters and corporate actors and inspire action against plastic pollution.

    However, Dhruv believes that cleaning up the plastic is not a solution: We need to start at the source and rethink the way we design, produce and consume. We need to transition to more sustainable economic models.

    Traveling for peace

    Besides the Thames Project, Dhruv is currently also planning a bike trip from North to South Korea in order to promote international peace. He wants to showcase that no matter which side of the border, humans are unique, special and united by their desire for a peaceful and safe future free of nuclear threats.

    Advice for your campaign

    To finish the interview, I asked Dhruv about his three core tips for anyone that wants to start their own for-purpose campaign and raise awareness. Here they are:

    1. Be passionate about your cause and know your facts
    2. Make it different
    3. Find the right team to do it

    You want to hear more from Dhruv?

    Visit his websites www.boruah.com and http://forpurposeadventures.org/ as well as the Thames Project https://www.thethamesproject.org/ or check out his twitter @dhruvboruah and instagram page @AdventureAccelerator

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    021 Mikel Garcia-Prieto Arrabal: Money makes a difference

    It’s time to talk about money. Money matters so more than we recognise in our daily life, and it really is the of the main ways of expressing our preferences in how we want the world to look like.

    Mikel García-Prieto Triodos Bank Impact Revolution sustainable finance bank money

    Mikel Garcia Prieto Arrabal is an expert on the matter, he works as Spanish CEO of Triodos, that commits to only use and invest customers‘ money for programs of sustainability or social impact.

    The real price of things

    Mikel explains why the market prices of products often fail to represent the true costs inflicted in their production, transportation and usage. Externalities on the environment, as well as social costs are not counted toward the prices we pay, and yet they have to be covered by the whole of society. Think of organic vegetables: Even though you pay more at the supermarket cashier, their cost for your personal health and the one of farm workers is smaller and they do not contribute to the erosion of soil, the pollution of air and groundwater and the reduction in biodiversity. Consumers need to see the whole story behind the product.

    From ideas to practice

    Mikel has hope: he speaks about the variety of great ideas that already exist to transform our wold into a fairer and more sustainable place: Taking the example of the circular economy, he shows how businesses, governments and academia alike are already working to promote the same progress in our society. His criticism? We need to start moving faster from theory to reality, from talking to doing.

    Real commitments to sustainability

    Although there is a growing trend of greener and more socially responsible programs in business, Mikel reminds us to look at the whole picture and distinguish between those corporations investing some money in charity programs and those putting the social / environmental good at the heart of their operation, something that Harvard economist Michael Porter calls „shared value“. Triodos core promise is to only invest in businesses, startups and programs that make the world better on the environmental or social side, and gives full transparency about their investments to their customers. Their long-term vision has allowed them to support many great initiatives, and also survive the global financial crisis in a much smoother way than most of the risk-taking commercial banks of the world have.

    Our money, our responsibility

    All of us use money, and we should manage our budget in a way that reflects our own values in life. Mikel reminds us of the three functions of money that we should consider as individual bankers: Consumption, savings and giving. Just as we look at companies progress in becoming more sustainable, we should ask ourselves how much of our consumption/saving/donation money goes towards sustainable and social causes, and try to improve that number year by year.

     

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    020 My month without Plastic

    How does it feel like to completely eliminate plastic from your life? Is that even possible in the 21st century?

    Well, I tried. For 30 days at the end of 2017, I refused to buy or use any single-use plastic, and looked out for alternatives. In this episode, I speak openly about the struggles, experience and learnings of that month.

    ZeroWaste Clara Bütow Plastic Challenge Alternatives Survive without Plastic Impact Revolution 

    What’s the matter with plastic?

    Also, I share some facts about plastic, so you understand the background why anyone would ever be so crazy to eliminate it from their life. Today, there are already 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic on the planet, and the numbers are growing steadily. If we don’t change anything, there will be as much as 34 billion tons in 2050.

    500 times more plastic than stars

    Plastic harms the environment, damages human health and impacts wildlife in many forms. And it’s so omnipresent that you can find plastic particles on the most untouched places on earth already. Scientists warn of the toxic characteristics of plastics, and yet they are the base of most of the products we use every day.

    We all got three choices

    When we hear all these stats and facts, there are three things we can do: Ignore the problem, put the blame corporations, governments and organisations or look at our own lifestyle and start with small changes. I’ve decided to go for the latter, and live that decision to the extreme for these 30 days.

     

    Bulk food, festivals and shampoo experiments

    The first things I looked for were all food-related: Am I gonna be able to eat anything besides bananas in this month? Oh yes! Needless to say you have the whole variety of fruits and veggies available, if you just skip the unnecessary produce bag and put the sticker directly on the fruit after weighting it. And even though my diet got pretty clean without potato chips and processed foods, I still got to live on the whole awesomeness of pastas, grains, legumes, nuts, dried fruit, flours and even cornflakes and chocolate I found at the bulk store. Seriously, these are total game changers, and I keep going back with my jars aaaall the time. Google it, or check here, if there are any stores available in your city!

      

    Next stop, bathroom: How can I replace shampoo, shower gel, disposable razor blades, toothpaste and co? The magic solution is DIY: I found amazing recipes for making my own toothpaste, deodorant and co, and shared them all on my instagram page, check them out! Then, I experimented around with all sorts of shampoo alternatives like baking soda, apple cider vinegar, medicinal clay, rye flour. Listen and hear how it went… 😉 The easiest change of all? Soap bars instead of liquid dispensers! One more thing I can recommend is switching to safety razors (much cheaper anyways!), wooden toothbrushes and, to all ladies out here, the lunar cup! All of these changes have literally zero effect on your daily life and make you feel better and healthier, too.

    What about the household, darling? Home, that was a tough one. I read online about washing nuts to clean your clothes and recipes for own detergents, but somehow wasn’t really happy with the stuff I made (please, if you have any recipes, send them to me). I went and asked around, and finally found a store that sells ecological clothes, dishwasher and cleaning detergents in bulk, you just bring your own containers, add a scent of your choice and that’s it. Super cool, cheap, healthy and good for the planet.

      

    Around the city. My friends always make fun of the amount of things that I plan in one day, and I do indeed have a very active lifestyle. From sports over parties and organising all sorts of events, to this podcast, art exhibitions and uni life, there’s a lot I do and I spend quite a lot of time on the streets. So how to mix that with the plastic challenge? One thing I learned is to be creative and adaptable: For the lack of a reusable coffee cup, I was carrying around an old mason jar to fill up with fresh hot coffee, or just had my cup to stay whenever I was craving it. My water bottle still is an old tomato sauce bottle, and works perfectly for me like that. Food-wise, I sometimes took bags or my own containers when I wanted to get bread or takeaways, and consequently said no to chocolate bars or other guilty pleasures. And of course, I learned quickly to order any drink without straw. I even went to a four day music festival, and with a bit of preparation, smart drink choices and my reusable cup, plate and cutlery didn’t have any problem either – anything is possible if you just want it enough.

    Would I do it again?

    I am super grateful for the experience, it really opened my eyes towards the incredible amounts of plastic that usually is in our daily life. At some point I went into a normal supermarket and suddenly felt like I was walking on a landfill. Our world has become super disposable, and I’m very happy about all the changes that I’ve learned about! Although I’m not 100% plastic free anymore, I still haven’t bought a single plastic bottle, bag or straw and kept most of the habits I learned during those 30 days. If you want a summary of all the changes, here it is. Feel free to share the picture, just please tag me for the credit.

    ZeroWaste Clara Bütow Plastic Challenge Alternatives Survive without Plastic Impact Revolution

    Thank you for your support and for writing me a review on Facebook or iTunes!! 

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