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Giving it All Away

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Last week I attended the United Nations Social Innovation Summit in New York City. As always at such conferences, there were many brilliant speakers, innovators and giant conglomerates talking about their sustainability agenda in an era when to not to do so would be a sign of immoral capitalism.

Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Seventh Generation, was a moderator on a panel consisting of the sustainability directors of Coca-Cola, Intel, and Verizon. He questioned what limited their commitment to sustainability. Their answers, for the most part, dealt with balancing shareholder value against sustainability.


And so it went as the day wore on -- until something wonderful happened. A middle-aged , long-haired movie director named Tom Shadyac turned the conference on its head. The very successful director of movies such as Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, and Bruce Almighty, challenged us with the question, "Why do we need so much?" So much money, so much stuff, so much desire to possess material goods which comes at such a cost to the environment? He spoke of the natural world, of how the redwoods take only the water they need from the earth, how the lion kills only what he needs to eat. Shadyac was very passionate about the notion that taking more than we need from the environment can only lead to a devastating end for humankind.


Shadyac's movie, I Am, tackles the issues that we, as a society, need to consider if we want to continue on. We lucky ones have enough. It's time to share it with the homeless, jobless, penniless members of our beautiful planet.

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Sheila Hollender likes to blog about the environment and health issues.