Interview with Jarvis Smith, My Green Pod and the PEA Awards

Ethical living pioneer Jarvis Smith, founder of the PEA Awards and co-founder of My Green Pod, discusses how the pandemic has created an opportunity to change how we think and behave.

‘A global opportunity to stop’

I didn’t think I’d see this in my lifetime. Covid has been devastating in many ways, but it’s also been the biggest gift humanity could have had.

When people say to me, ‘what’s the first thing you would do if you were the leader of the planet?’ I always say ‘to get people to stop’. Until they’ve stopped the treadmill it’s very difficult to understand that there are other ways of doing things.

In the West, most people drive themselves into a state of illness, because they don’t ever stop – they just keep going and going.

The pandemic has given us a global opportunity to stop. On a conscious level that’s very important. When you stop, you get to be with yourself and think about all the things you don’t like in your life. You begin to re-evaluate them.

‘The pandemic has given us a real opportunity’

It may be that we need to go through the climate crisis to really shake things up. To realize that we can’t go back to our old ways.

The pandemic has given us a real opportunity to do that. But only if the human psyche is prepared to take this first hurdle of opportunity.

The push over the cliff has happened – to either fly or die. And it’s very unlikely that we will die; human beings are very spirited in times of immense crisis.

I think we’re evolving as a species because of the pandemic.

‘Amazing connections with the natural world’

We’ve also seen the positive effect that it’s had on our local environments.

People began to hear the birds sing. Nature came back into our rivers and canals that hadn’t been seen for years. People were able to experience these amazing connections with the natural world.

It’s the first time in recent history when people have been able to join the dots between the way we’re living and the negative effect it’s having on our planet.

It’s created a positive effect. Once we’re aware of something we’re able to respond and can choose to act accordingly.

‘We need an uprising of people ‘

We’ve got this sweet spot. Businesses are beginning to realize their purpose and their values. To align much more harmoniously with the climate crisis.

Which is great, because if we continue with the existing economic model, we’re going to drive ourselves into the sixth mass extinction.

During the pandemic, businesses were also able to get off the treadmill.

They had to re-evaluate their business models and connections with the natural world. It could be with their supply chains, or the lower carbon footprint of people working from home. Nearly 80% of the world’s travel was related to business – that disappeared completely.

So we’ve got this fantastic movement within businesses. There’s lots of discussions now about businesses being much more human. But it’s humans that run businesses, not employees.

We need an uprising of people. To say, okay we did change, we quite like it, we want to stay with this change.

‘We’ve got to give profit a purpose’

Gone are the days of profit for profits sake. Yes, it funds people’s lifestyles, but what about giving it a purpose tied to those business values.

In the future, it will be part of an equal balance: people, planet and profit. In fact, we change the order: planet, people, purpose, profit.

Because without the planet, you can’t have the people. And without people you can’t have purpose. We’ve got to give profit a purpose. Then the energy will have a different characteristic.

‘A big reduction in the number of brands’

I believe that we’re going to see a big reduction in the number of brands, services and products.

In 10 years time, if people are still drinking Coca Cola, then we haven’t succeeded. This is a nasty company that happens to be one of the biggest brands this planet’s ever seen.

‘The way we currently use technology is quite harmful’

Working from home is going to stick around. Even if it’s just two days a week, that’s a 40% reduction in carbon emissions.

And there’s great technology available now, great organizations like Citrix, letting people work seamlessly from home on any device.

The way we currently use some technology is quite harmful. It consumes all our time and keeps us tied to working. But it could be a solution.

Digitization will play a vital role in the future. There’s no doubt that robots and AI are clever enough to do a lot of the work that we currently do.

We can elevate it to do these things and actually free up our time. Then we might start enjoying our planet in a different way.

‘We must see the pandemic as a blip’

I do believe that consciousness has evolved enough for us to never ever go back to the catastrophic way we were living.

We must see the pandemic as a blip. The most serious issues on our planet are the climate crisis and poverty. Until we fix those two very basic equalities, we’re never going to succeed at being human.

It’s nature that needs to rebuild better, not us. We might begin to realise how easy it could be to resolve the climate crisis, simply by letting nature rebuild – do its thing. Nature’s very good at that. It has its values and it lives its purpose.

‘We could solve the climate crisis in just a few years’

This is about building a whole new way of living on the earth. That respects nature and includes it in our decision-making.

Step one is about reconnecting. When you realize how important your family are to you, you’re much more likely to want to try and help mitigate the climate crisis. By becoming a solution and not a problem.

Step two is about taking action. About understanding what you’re really good at and what you love doing. How can you commit these skills to mitigate the climate crisis?

Then you’ll find step three – living your purpose. I believe in Eastern philosophy, that everything has a reason, a purpose and a mission.

If every human being were able to live their purpose and commit to it, we could solve the climate crisis in a few years.

‘It’s for every child on the planet’

We’re working with businesses now that can really drive home long term solutions to the biggest issue of humanities time, organisations like Deloitte, Natwest and Citrix who have a huge ecosystem.

Huge corporations that are open to sharing a pedigree of knowledge to disruptive business models like ours. We will only mitigate the climate crisis by working together and learning from the depth of wisdom and making it available to all.

If we can influence things in a tiny way,  then together we are building a better world for our children’s future.

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