Inventing a new, sustainable future
After the earth has had some relief from our polluting ways, it looks like we are slowly on track to go back to “normal”. However, pre Covid-19 was not normal! This is our chance to be able to change, to become more sustainable, and to turn our social and environmental catastrophes around. Can we become a more socially and environmentally responsible society post Covid?
A lot of people have been able to work from home. Working from home is more sustainable and has less overheads for the business than having to go into an office somewhere every day. It would be fantastic if companies can keep their employees working from home! Then they can use the overhead savings and their existing office space as accommodation and soup kitchens for the homeless or as shelters for victims of domestic abuse. They can even encourage their employees to come in once a week for any necessary face to face work and to volunteer in the soup kitchen. This will make the companies and employees more socially responsible, and it will create a social environment for the givers and receivers of the help on offer.
Companies are going to have to start moving away from the shareholder system and start moving towards a co-op or employee owned system. To be more socially equatable and not so driven by the need for more profit every year, a co-op (community owned) or employee owned business results in better working conditions, better employee commitment, better productivity and better products. It is empowering for the employees. After company expenses, profits are divided up equally between all employees. This also means that employees can have a say in wages, including wages for CEOs, meaning that absurdly excessive pay for executives will be a thing of the past.
With employees working from home and companies becoming more community based, there will be a pride in the community itself. From there it will follow on that people will support local products and produce. There is more realisation now that we need to become more self sufficient within our local communities in order to be resilient. The only way we can be resilient in the case of another outbreak is if we ensure we can survive without trucks bringing everything in and don’t rely on so many manufactured items. This will then reduce pollution (no fossil fuels needed for manufacturing or transport) and support local farmers, growers, small manufacturers, artists and creators. This is a win win win for the environment, social cohesion and support, and resilience. If anything, Covid-19 has shown us that we need to become more resilient in our own space and within our communities.
Because we are then more community based, use local products and have a stake in the companies we work for, we can look at shorter working weeks so that more people can be employed. How does a 30 hour working week sound? Plenty of time for social activities and hobbies, plus for every 3 people that work a 30 hour week, another person can be employed. This will allow unemployment to decrease and employees to ultimately have more job satisfaction as they have time for other pursuits. It will alleviate stress on the public system and, as companies distribute the profits to their employees, it will not causes financial stress on anyone.
As we are buying local produce and producing more locally, we must encourage small, diverse local farms. Community gardens will be more common in populated areas, and we can encourage everyone to grow at least some food, so that everyone is fed. Councils will need to lift bans on growing food on verges and people can grow in containers and pots in smaller spaces. Nobody will need to go hungry. People can trade and exchange foods as well, but food should be only a neighbour away. We will realise then as a community that our environment is what sustains us and our community is what sustains the environment. We need to become growers of soil, growers of forests and growers of healthy ecosystems. We need to be in tune with natural processes, nature and the environment again. We need to become whole again. Communities and villages must self govern, as their needs will all differ due to local social and economic practices.
A utopian view, but I have to be optimistic and believe that it is something that can be achieved. As long as we can stop our own greed and our own wants, and start focusing on our needs. Healthy food, clean water, clean air, shelter and community are the needs of human beings. If we can focus on that we can become a better species. Truth is that we will all die in the end. Do we want to leave behind a legacy of destruction due to the accumulation of stuff or do we want to create a better world for ourselves and those who come after us? It is our decision, more so now than ever…