How to work

It's not just business.

Businesses are not just a part of an economy, they are an investment of people’s time, effort and resources on this earth.  A business is personal – it is the embodiment of people’s decisions, actions and impact.  And interconnected with every aspect of life on this planet.

To align with the planet a business needs to look at who it is – what values do the people that work there have?  Nurturing people and planet needs to be a fundamental and non-compromising part of how it operates.  Anything less means its people are ok with indifference or neglect.  Commit to nurturing our planet – it’ll be the best thing your business ever did.


He waka eke noa.
Whakataukī (Maori Proverb): We are all in this (boat) together.

If you own or lead a business...

Pay attention to and embrace the four 'A's. These are four areas that are key to taking action that will make a difference for our planet.

The difference that a business can make day-to-day is largely influenced by its awareness of environmental needs, its impact in reality, and how it can most meaningfully contribute.

It means taking time to be completely honest about every aspect of the business – it means being ready to face up to the reality of the decision-making. Finding out if you are a three-strike* business; facing up to the possibilities of major change.  It is challenging, however, the rewards are huge. People feel proud about being part of the business, motivated to do the best job, feel connected to something meaningful, and most of all – people will be making a positive difference on this planet, not a destructive one.

How do you become aware?

1. Know who you are as a business. Who are your people, what values do you hold in decision-making positions – are these the same for everyone in the company?  Remember, values are not written on a piece of paper – they are what drive decisions and practice day-to-day, in reality.  To find out you will need people to be honest – you’ll need to be honest with yourself… when it comes down to it, what drives your business?  The answer is never just money…

2. Know your product or service – every bit of it. Know where your resources are sourced, know who the people are – right through the supply chain. If you can’t find out or knowledge is slim – change that immediately – ignorance is never an excuse. Identify the tools required to make your product or service – this may include a variety of vehicles such as heavy lifting equipment, container ships, computers, servers… map everything. Know your product, know your service end to end.

3. Know your workplace. From the building/s you occupy to the equipment you use, to the vehicles your staff use to get to the workplace, the food you eat there, the furniture you have, the utilities you use, to the products and tools used day-to-day – cleaning/ablutions, printing, shredding, flyers, business cards, online advertising… map everything. Know your workplace inside out.

4. Estimate the likely impact.  Work out what is probably having a negative impact, little impact or a positive impact – this does not have to be a detailed analysis at this stage. But be prepared – it is likely it will be far worse than one would like to admit, but go for it. Once you’ve set it out, you’ve taken the most important step to make a meaningful contribution – and the most critical to helping this planet.

5. Identify the most influential parts of your product/service and your workplace.  What is critical to the business?  For example, it may be the key sources, the place of production, transportation, point of sale – and the people at each point.

6. Go back to your values – work out the strengths and influence of your organisation.  Ask the question – what can you change through the power of your business; the collective potential of your people?  This is likely to be far more than you imagine… Values drive change – they ensure real commitment and genuine connection.  Your strengths and influence will come from here – and it is here that your biggest contribution to the planet will be made.

And be aware – if you say one thing and do another, everyone knows – greenwashing or anything like it is a hollow existence. By contrast, committing to genuine, aligned action will not only feel substantial – it will provide purpose and meaning for everyone involved.


*Three-strike business = a business that is not fit for earth in three fundamental ways. We have an article coming that will explain in further detail.


What does alignment to the planet mean when it comes to business?  It means you are connected as a group of humans to the environment in which you operate and have an impact on, and work in balance with it.

Exploitation is the opposite of this, yet has become the norm.  It is therefore no small thing to be aligned with the planet – there must be understanding about how it works in reality (biospheres, ecosystems, underground, on land, air and water), how it is changing, why it is changing.  This goes far beyond conversations about carbon – carbon is the symptom of rapid change – human behaviour is the cause.  We must change how we behave.

There’s good news and bad news on this front.  The bad news is as a species we are not known for making good decisions for our survival, in fact the collective ‘we’ has been exploiting our resources (including ourselves!) at a crazy rate of knots.

The good news is the same collective ‘we’ can stop, redress and nurture our planet at a rate of knots… however, the current priorities of insatiable profit, continual growth (in size), exploitation of people and environments, will have to be put in check.  This is counter to our current goals – at the very least we want to live comfortably, to have a ‘good’ life – but in reality, we need to live with purpose.  Materialistic things will never get us there and are doing so much damage it is at times incomprehensible. The old adage that no one on their deathbed wishes they’d made more money… we shouldn’t have to get there to work this out.

In practice, alignment means connection – it is not just knowing figures on a page, it is understanding ourselves as a species and the environment in which we live. Earth is an extraordinary place; our backyards are incredible if we take time to see and understand them.

There is no need to travel the globe to see its wonders – where you live, the ground under your feet, the water, the air – get to know them.  Spend time with them – stop and consider – ‘our business, what is it literally built on?’  ‘What is our land?’  ‘What is our water?’  ‘What is our air?’ Acknowledge, connect and align with these first.


The biggest contribution a business can make is by taking action that is meaningful.

Action that is superficial or added on to feel better about the planet’s decline or to market your appeal to the market, will not only feel tokenistic, it will not fill the void as the future unravels. Imagine asking the question in 10 years time – what could I have done? The answer will be a lot. There will be no convincing yourself at that point.

In the past people weren’t always aware of their impact or there was a lack information… now is different.  People not taking action are doing so willfully.  There is simply no excuse for ignorance at this point.  Every flood, every fire, every poisoned river, every polluted sky and space, every point of a degree increase in temperature – are reminders that we know action is required.

Businesses, the collectives of people around the world, are well poised to take action – we have the ingredients, we just need to decide whether we are we going to make a deathly concoction or a life-giving elixir.

Start taking fundamental action. 

1. Work out the areas of your business that have the greatest negative impact.  This is where you’ll have the biggest impact. If you have carried out a proper review of each bit of your business you will know what these are. Try to avoid slipping into old narratives like ‘…but we cannot do anything here, it’s out of our control’.   Replace it with ‘how can we run a business that stops exploitation and nurtures our people and planet’.  Empower action – there is always a way.

2. Change your mantra from ‘end to end’ to ‘tend to tend’. Know the people, know your environments and nurture them. Bring everyone in the business into play – they are likely to surprise you with their ideas and drive for action.

3. Engage in your local environments.  Get connected.  And identify those helping to protect, redress and nurture effectively.  Often these will be non-profits – support them, their expertise and know-how – see them as part of your extended family and in doing so support your business.

4. Commit to your actions on paper – your intended impact and the action that will take you there. Share it, update it regularly, refer to it constantly – drive your action like you’ve never done before.  Avoid jargon and great oratory – say it how it is – tell the truth and commit.  This will be the most powerful thing your business will do for its future – make sure you honour the gravity of it.


There are many ways to be accountable – to yourselves as an organisation, to your shareholders and stakeholders, to your community, to your country/countries, to your planet. Most businesses prioritise their financial accountability over everything else – this is usually to the owners/shareholders and to the financial systems in which they operate and are answerable to, particularly by law. Some businesses prioritise social and environmental accountability, however, this is usually an internal exercise and the accountability taken is usually based on financial review, with an emphasis on quantitative analysis, with little emphasis placed on changes in behaviour – the key to environmental change.

To be accountable to the environment, to our planet, we must measure changes in behaviour.  This goes far beyond numbers.  Accountability must include the commitment, the action and the impact you’ve had to the key causes of rapid decline of our ecosystems.  As a starter…

Key Environmental Accountability Areas:

1. Reduction of production and consumption

Critical to the survival of our earth and us – how are you ensuring your business is making better not bigger.

2. The degree to which a product/service addresses the needs of people and planet

In contrast to encouraging our insatiable wants – or creating more wants.

3. The way a product/service is made

Ensuring your supply chain enables ‘Tend to Tend’, and deep dives into the impact of materials used, types of labour, ethical practice, energy consumption, type and volume of waste, influence on people/business/systems to get your product/service – and, how your business impacts on local/regional/national environments (land, water/ocean, air/space).

4. Product/service lifetime

Taking responsibility for the whole lifetime, not just to the consumer – e.g. are products built to last or to throwaway, built to nurture earth or to pollute it, built to encourage future consumption or to enable needs to be met.

5. Elimination of exploitation

The degree to which your organisation addresses exploitation in all parts of its operations, given its ‘business as usual’ prevalence now.  Particularly in sourcing, production and transport.


We can help with getting you started but the key is your commitment as a collective group of people, a business, to being aligned with the planet. Shy away from ‘nice-to-do’ actions or quick wins and go all in.  Your business will shine as a result and every living being on this planet will be grateful.


If you're an employee...

Start with who you are and the opportunities your role might bring. The action you take as an employee needs to embrace the following four areas:
In the workplace

The workplace will be different for every person.  The physical place, the people that share it and culture that is being held within it.  For those of you working from home it becomes even more tricky as the merging of your living and working space starts to blur.  So what can you do no matter where you are and what your role is?  First start with the areas you can make decisions on, where you can empower yourself.

1. Your personal work area.  The first question to ask is – what do I need? What is the minimum you need in your workplace for it to be functional?  What is in your workplace that is a ‘nice to have’?  Reducing consumption is our number one priority, so list your needs and wants.  (There may be some things that you need that are not in your workplace – add these to your list!).

Then ask – how many of the items that you need are aligned with the planet?  It is likely that most of your immediate work things are not aligned, so determine – can they be modified?  Once used up/broken can they be fixed or replaced with a planet nurturing option? Find out if the item can be recycled.

Now determine which are the parts of your personal work area that you have direct control over.  There may be some things that are provided by company policy e.g. stationery, computers, lockers.  For the things you have control over, call them ‘my workplace items’, make a list and commit to modifying or replacing with planet aligned alternatives.  E.g. if you can select the chair that you use – identify chairs that are the best options for the planet, such as a second-hand wooden chair or a genuinely sustainably made chair.

2. Shared work area. Encourage your colleagues to review the shared work areas and determine what is needed and what is unnecessary.  Then work out what has to change for items to be aligned with the planet.  For example, the small products bought for staff such as cleaners, toilet paper, dish washing liquid, computer cleaning equipment, or bigger items such as appliances, phones, computers.  Often these purchasing decisions are given little consideration so see it as an opportunity to up your impact by putting forward ideas and encouraging genuine commitment to the planet.

3. Food and drink – Personal. Our consumption of food and drink is a big problem for our planet – we must reduce the amount, the type and the waste. What do you eat and drink in your workplace? We need to shift our daily habits to one that nurtures us and our environment.  In practice this means 3 key things – knowing what you’re eating, where it is from, and how it was produced. This is easy if you’ve grown the food or it is provided locally.  This is very difficult if it is processed food, without full labelling, and/or made in another country. Being organised is key to helping our planet – make food or do your research to know what is the best option to buy if you need to buy.

Food and Drink – Shared.  If you can access shared food and drink at work it is not only more cost effective, it is more likely to support others to have food that doesn’t harm the planet.  For example, your workplace could order a food box for the office each week. That means at the very least you and your colleagues can have fruit and salad readily available. It is a small cost for a workplace for the value it brings to everyone.  Sometimes workplaces order food and drink for meetings or events – put forward options for going local, organic and/or a local cafe/caterer who clearly upholds planet friendly food and drink.

4. Garden. Does your workplace have a garden?  Is there a place for a garden?  Get involved in creating a garden that encourages a flourishing ecosystem, with insects, thriving soil, plants, trees. Look at often ignored spaces such as balconies, rooftops, car parks – these can all thrive with wildlife if you let them.  These spaces can be doubly, triply or more beneficial when mixed with other consumption reducing action.  For example, reducing your carpark space as shared/public transport increases and making each carpark a garden space. Grow herbs, vegetables, fruit and contribute to the weekly shared food for the organisation.

Make time to connect with your immediate environment and encourage others to be outside and connect – it is so important to everyone and everything’s wellbeing.


This is just a beginning list – review your workplace and work out other areas that you can create alignment with the planet.  It may surprise you how much you can change in just your immediate environment.

Getting to + from work

The way we get to and from work may be an area where we can be super aligned with our planet, but it can also be an area we cause significant harm to our planet, on multiple levels.  However, it may be that your ability to change how you get to and from is limited. The important thing is to consider – whether you have options and taking the best one you can.

If it is possible, walking, cycling, skateboarding and other human powered options are great – they don’t use fuels beyond your own body’s, require little equipment, and your own personal health and wellbeing can be enhanced through the exercise. However, if any of these are compromised it may not be an option for you e.g. the safety of getting to work this way, the degree of air pollution, or a personal health issue is put at risk.  If the issue can be changed e.g. by local government, city planning – make sure you have your say and support action to change this. Alternatively, help address your issue e.g. walking with someone or creating a walking bus, or linking up with a skateboarding group to work out a safe/smooth way to get to where you are going.

If human powered options are not possible, the next option is to select the most planetary aligned options.  This will vary from place to place, however, the most commonly accessible options are usually shared transport e.g. a carpool with colleagues/local residents, public transport, local business transport.

Ask colleagues, bosses, neighbours, people in your community, to see what is out there. Be proactive and get organised so that it can work for you.  Driving a car may be the easiest and most efficient in time but it is far from being aligned with the planet. Try and resist taking the easy path – it is the easy, efficient, most comfortable path that has got us to the current state of this planet.

Consider also, whether working from home is an option.  This has the shortest journey (zero!) and can be a very good option for some people.  With the onset of Covid19, businesses have become far more adaptable to home working for their employees – see if it is possible and right for you.  Even working one day from home will potentially reduce your transport impact by up to 1/5 each year – that is not nothing.

If you must take a vehicle to work and you have the option, choose the most aligned with the planet.  This will generally be the smallest vehicle you can choose – it will be made using less resources and less plastic and be more economical.  If you are able, choose an energy source for your car that is arguably less harmful to the planet e.g. electric, hydrogen.

The degree of change you can make will really depend on your circumstances and the access you have to options.  If you have limited options, seize opportunities to increase your options e.g. demanding safe public transport uses less harmful energy sources or requesting shared business transport options.  Work out what you can do and go for the best option.   

In your work role

How can you take action in your work role? What are your options for action day-to-day in the work you undertake?  This will of course depend on what your role is and the capacity and influence you have.

For many people their job is all encompassing, leaving little time to think or do anything beyond the job description.  Others are in their role to pay the bills and survive, day in, day out.  In these instances it can be hard to take action.  However, if you have a role in which you have some capacity, some influence, some space, you can make a huge difference.  Consider the following:

Purpose of Role. How does your role impact on the environment?  If your role is in alignment with the planet, what you do would not only be part of producing a good or service, it would also nurture the earth. Find ways to embrace your purpose in the context of this planet – how could your role contribute, how could you take action within the context of your role? It might be in a small way or a big way.  Take time to think of your role in the context of this planet – get your job description out and add that context e.g. a teacher might have a line like ‘Responsibility for young people’ – add ‘in our collective living environment’ or ‘as guardians for the planet’s future’.  Give your role context and meaning – and if possible, share this with your manager/leadership team/boss.

Bring you to your role. Reconnect with who you are, your home, your environment, and work out what contribution you can make. Bring your best self to the fore and contribute positively and strongly, acknowledging the role that you play and the impact that could have for our planet.

Influence.  If you manage resources or people or can influence the impact of these, work out the most meaningful way to do that. Try not to get caught up in superficial calls to action that do little – go to the most critical actions e.g. getting people connected to nature, reducing consumption, goods/services made without exploitation, stopping pollution, taking responsibility for waste. There are many things that can be done to contribute to these areas – consider what your sphere of influence is and go for it.

With colleagues

Collective action can have far reaching effects – going well beyond the workplace.

Working with other people in your place of business to identify the impact of your work day-to-day and determining the best action to take can also be energising and add significant value to the business. Here are some tips for taking collective action.

1. Get to know each other.  Who you are, what your motivations are, the difference that can be made through action.

2. Put the obvious on the table.  Set out what the key planetary issues are e.g. loss of connection, consumption, exploitation, pollution and so forth. Avoid making assumptions and general statements – set out clearly what the key issues are and what others feel are critical.

3. Identify the most critical action that you can carry out collectively. This will depend on where you are, what resources you have (time, money, expertise, tools, equipment), and what challenges you already face.  Try to avoid picking the easiest, most popular action – along with telling yourself it is good just to start; it is not. There is no room for ‘nice to do’s’ now.  From the beginning, decide how best to spend your resources in a way that will maximise the impact you make. What does the collective ‘you’ look like?  What special characteristics or super powers does your planet action team have?

4. Make a clear plan.  Not a lengthy one with loads of jargon. Write a plan that has key actions – and have responsibilities for them being done and deadlines for completion.  Keep it simple and meaningful.  And be ambitious!

5. Start taking action!  Too often groups can spend so much time talking that a good chunk of their resources (especially time) are taken up before any action has begun. Get going quickly – after your first meet up agree what will happen by the next meet-up, making sure you next meet-up isn’t far away.  A year can easily slip away, however, so does our planet’s wellbeing – and as a result so does our own. The time is now – go for it!

Step by step, change the world.

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