A fable for the future: Learning from The Lorax

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“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

The Lorax’s call for us to care about the world we live in is as poignant a message now as it was when first published in 1971, if not more so.

Dr Seuss’s fable about the danger that corporate greed poses to nature was also the most prominent message from last night’s panel discussion that formed part of Old Vic Voices Off, a new programme of events at The Old Vic Theatre. The topic up for grabs: how can Entrepreneurialism and Environmental Sustainability co-exist?

The panel for the evening included a variety of sustainability’s best movers and shakers: Alicia Lawson of Rubies in the Rubble; a chutney and jam company aiming to tackle food wastage by making products out of fruit and veg that would otherwise go to landfill. Carlos Saba, founder of The Happy Startup School, a growing global community of change makers who believe that there is more to life and business then making money.

The panel also featured Alison Tickell the CEO of Julie’s Bicycle, a leading global charity bridging the gap between environmental sustainability and the creative industries. The event was chaired by Jeremy Leggett, one of the biggest names in renewable energy and founder and director of Solarcentury and SolarAid, chairman of Carbon Tracker, and author of The Winning of the Carbon War.

The esteemed panel passed on their pearls of wisdom to fifty of the entrepreneurs of tomorrow in an hour-long discussion to coincide with the theatre’s new live production of Dr Seuss’ text.

The timing could not have been better. Taking place only a month after the COP21 agreement in Paris, topics surrounding environmental sustainability have never packed such a punch. The conversation ranged from the future of sustainability, how to motivate positive investment and how to inspire others to make a call for better business practices and a focus on climate change.

As the evening’s discussion kicked off Jeremy Leggett played the part of the Lorax’s faceless, greedy industrialist villain, the Once-ler. Donning a red hardhat, Mr Leggett confronted the dangers, the lies and tactics used by the big energy providers to pursue their fight for continued investment and mining of fossil fuels.

The debate then turned to the subject of how as businesses and individuals we win the fight for more sustainable business practices. The prevailing answer to this question was best outlined by Alison tickle:

“I believe deeply that the issue of climate change and environmental sustainability is the big issue of the day. Tackling these issues is fundamentally all about culture; it is all about doing, not about talking. One of the biggest challenges is how you actually inspire and encourage people to act on climate change.

“We need to ‘love-bomb’ renewable energy – for that’s where investors will see their return.”

The overall message then from last night’s discussion was the need for us to fight against climate change collectively, and to adopt more sustainable business practices – we need to be the momentum behind the change and the voice that calls for it. In short, we need to follow the example set by the Lorax:

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. And I’m asking you sir, at the top of my lungs – that thing! That horrible thing that I see! What’s that thing you’ve made out of my truffula tree?” – The Lorax

 

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Photo credit: Mike Bitzenhofer from Flickr

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