Having just read something on the degradations of the oceans I am inspired to get a little Wonka-ish to make a point.
It seems that how we consume life especially in, around and out of the oceans are going to return those oceans to the primordial soup we climbed out of but a few million years ago.
What we do and how we live affects the oceans and seas in some way or another immediately or eventually, chronically or acutely, directly or indirectly.
So, whoever we are: the lady in a diner in Boise Idaho chowing down on Big Lite Ceasar Salad with anchovies; the bloke in the Birmingham café eating pilchards on toast; the dad flushing cotton Buds down the loo; the farmer slooshing phosphates into the Yangtze; the African 8 year old re-skinning 2nd hand rubber tyres; the skateboarder in Berlin dumping his cola bottle in the Spree; the turkish fisherman using dodgy nets – its our business.
But who’s going to tell us that. And more importantly who’s going to help us act upon our new-found responsibility even if we accept it.
We need to find a way to democratise the oceans – give even the deepest most distant point of them as much meaning to every one of those people as the small bit they might have paddled or swam through on their last holiday – give them meaning to every person in their everyday lives.
So I say hands up global brands.
According to CSIS’s 7 Revolutions & HBR – “A well-run businesses that applies its vast resources expertise and management talent to problems that it understands and in which it has a stake can have a greater impact on social good than any other institution or philanthropic organization”
Which in my world makes the Oceans every global brand and corporation’s business.
Global brands can help us in closing the gap and popularizing the plight of the oceans and seas but for them to do so we need to demonstrate the value to them; and the value and stickiness to their customers of any partnership.
The most important thing we need to do first is to make people feel the ‘pull of it’ and we need them to feel responsible for the health and vigour of that emotion and the source of it – we need to frame the oceans in such a way as to be both emotionally and physically relevant and important again to the people on our planet – especially those in the first world in a position to have the luxury of being to do something about it in so many simple ways. Global brands have the voice the reach and the channels to make those connections.
But which ones? Again I have a childishly over simplified answer.
Take a photo of the trash washed up on an un-tended beach on the weather side of a pacific island and look at what’s on it.
Plastic bottles. Millions and millions of plastic bottles – so I say, if leadership goes to the biggest fish in this pond and we’re rummaging in the plastic bottle department – stand up the Happiness factory and join the mission. Because, even if those bottles aren’t the property of those busy teaching the world to sing out there and being an arms length from everyone on the planet, they are manufactured by ‘wannabee thems’. So biggest fish, step up.
And ooh look: Trainers – so we’re walking on water it seems. Again, I apply my biggest fish in the global pond metric here? Tick. You’ve got it. Stand up Nike. Say nothing – just do it.
Oh, and a few car tyres. Fabulous. Bridgestone? Michelin? Continental? Who’s the real player here? Roll up roll up. Your name is on the boat.
Which brings me to my other super childish starter for ten. And this is in the ‘what do we ask those brands to do?’ department.
I say lets start with something big; big enough to be seen from space – the huge islands of plastic and debris floating in a couple of the oceans. (And, please; scientists, oceanographers, marine biologists and engineers; tell me the following idea is impossible because if it isn’t, that no one has started developing these already almost constitutes a global act of aggression against the human race.)
If we can build super tankers to traverse the oceans – and we can engineer deep sea wells and deep tide dredgers – how come it is so far beyond us to develop an open mouth surface dredger to start hoovering up these islands of crap?
Funding? Well I point us back to the logos on the debris on that weather-side beach.
We know that the Happiness Factory feels that a global CSR play has to be BIG! Nike are the Just Do It kids. And every tyre company is about mitigating risk in the wet
And right now, from where I’m standing, suffocating oceans and the death of the living seas will soon overtake fat kids, heart disease from lack of exercise and substandard stopping distances on the world agenda of “whoops this isn’t going to end well” biggies.
So I say, get in a room, get your cheque book out and, I don’t know, build a very big dredging boat or something; and at least start to do something. I know that it is not the answer to the highly complex problems facing the oceans. But draw that kind of big brand attention to this kind of problem and the democratisation of the oceans will begin. Start the conversation and the journey. It will be worth it.
Part 2. Coming soon.