Hurrah for the sustainability doers!
An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher.
It resonated with me as we have a tendency in the sustainability field to lionise the thinkers well above the doers.
Years ago, I started a ‘Green Gurus’ blog with the intention of turning the text into a book once I had gathered enough material, but I started noticing a trend. Many of the those I held in high regard – William McDonough and Amory Lovins to name but two – were very good at condensing sustainability down to some easy to grasp principles, but had left a trail of failed projects in their wake. Others simply did nothing but write books, give speeches and react to the efforts of others. I started to lose interest in the project as I had to fight to keep it from going in a rather negative direction.
On the flipside, many of those who were getting stuff done such as the late Ray Anderson of Interface (full disclosure: Interface is a client of Terra Infirma), were using some relatively clunky analogies (eg Interface are climbing the seven faces of Mount Sustainability – to climb a real mountain you only have to climb one), but they demonstrated that step changes in sustainability could be used to drive business success.
Thinking doesn’t cut carbon, doing does.
Maybe for sustainability we should re-write Gardner’s maxim:
An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than a competent philosopher.