As we navigate these times of profound challenge and change, resilience is quickly becoming important when it comes to our well-being and survival. It is, therefore, worthy of some exploration.
What is resilience and how do we build it feels like an important question. The Oxford English Dictionary defines resilience as "the ability of people or things to recover quickly after something unpleasant, such as shock, injury, etc." In Western culture, there is a perception that this ability means pushing through, toughening up and fighting our way to recovery; it's a quality born out of physical strength. At TreeSisters, however, we always look to nature to show us the way and, in so doing, find resilience to be something quite different.
In nature, we see that resilience is born out of the capacity to respond to change by embracing the support of the whole ecosystem; that resilience comes through harnessing the diversity of the whole community through a collaborative approach, through tending to the basic nutrients required for growth towards a thriving world.
We see that nature is resilient when the natural ecosystems are intact. Sadly many human activities have led to destruction, and nature's resilience has been greatly impacted. The barren and deforested landscapes, degraded soils and farmlands caused by our extractive and chemically-driven actions are perhaps a mirror for our struggles as we see increasing health issues and the spread of zoonotic diseases on a global scale.
So how do we build resilience in the face of this? How do we create collaborative networks that can increase nutrient levels? What is the role of the business sector in this? A number of our partners are showing us the way, demonstrating business resilience is linked to restoration and restorative action. When we focus on supporting nature to thrive, our businesses can thrive.
Resilience comes from nurturing the roots.
Sepixa is one such partner working to restore the Earth from the roots up through a pioneering product in soil probiotics. CEO and co-founder Peter Saavedra is an expert microbiologist who has spent many years studying the health of the soil and understanding the vital link between that and the health of humanity.
"Nature is able to restore balance to the soil, which then produces healthier, more resilient plants, including trees and those grown for food. But we haven't left her alone, and, simply put, we cannot produce enough compost to improve and restore the acres that need repair. At the same time, the modern-day migration towards organically grown foods requires healthy farmlands and forests. And so we have a collective responsibility to help restore what we've destroyed.
At SEPIXA, we have developed a probiotic for plants called Soil Balance which utilizes a special and important type of soil microbe called a "saprophyte." Saprophytes are front-line workers in the world of soil health and directly impact nutrient density through their ability to turn carbon and dead roots into mineral-rich humus. Not only does this result in the soil's ability to grow more nutritious food, but it also helps lower atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by locking carbon into the soil.
We believe that our role is to help restore nature's balance, and our business focus has been to expand awareness and usage of Soil Balance across multiple sectors. Its benefits have been far-reaching through large-scale organic growing operations. We are now offering it in a format suitable for home gardeners and are looking to offer it to reforestation organisations.
It is an honour to be part of a "new day" of cultivating food that supports our collective efforts towards balance and good health. We are also helping Nature find her way back to balance because, as we have learned – it all matters. Healthy soil, Healthy you.”
Resilience comes through tending the whole ecosystem.
Another of our treasured partners thriving right now is Pukka Herbs and their organic herbal tea business. Again it is a focus on restoration proving to be a key driver of their growth. Since our partnership began in 2017, Pukka has funded planting 1 million trees through their 1% for the Planet commitment.
“Pukka's purpose is to nurture healthier, happier lives through powerful organic plants. We choose to operate in a regenerative way to benefit people, plants and the planet. Put into action. This goal has increasingly meant collaborating with our organic growers and wild harvesters to mitigate the impact of climate change on their work and their lives." - CEO, Karel Vandamme
Natalie Sluggett, Sustainability Specialist, explains further: "We support farmers' efforts with a data-driven approach, gathering information directly from the farm communities from whom we source the ingredients for our products. In 2019, we developed a new risk modelling tool to analyse 56 sourcing locations to respond to and prepare for climate change impacts.
One area analysed using the risk modelling tool is Karnataka, a state in the Southwest region of India. Based on the modelling, Karnataka is already at risk of soil erosion and, by 2040, will be at high risk for water scarcity. This will directly impact farmers who grow organic turmeric in Pukka's Fair for Life. While we can't change the weather, we can try to help the farmers in their value chain find natural and regenerative solutions as the climate changes.
In response to the water scarcity threat, Karnataka farmers decided to draw on our Fair for Life premiums, a community support fund used on projects as the community sees fit. In 2019, the growers used premiums to plant 19,800 specific plant species - such as jackfruit, cinnamon trees, vanilla vines and roses on farms across the region. These plants reduce soil erosion, improve the soil's ability to hold water, increase nutrient cycling and provide additional income.”
Pukka's commitment to regeneration doesn't just apply to the raw ingredients aspect of their business, however, but is applied to every step in their supply chain, from packaging and waste to energy and employee engagement. Their sustainability model is pioneering, and as they work to fully embrace "Business as a force for good," their resilience and business are growing.
Resilience comes through radical collaboration.
My Green Pod, the UK's largest ethical lifestyle media company and online ethical marketplace, is one of our earliest partnerships and is rooted in mutual support as a pathway to growth. Building resilience is at the heart of their business through a focus on collaboration and network building. Founder Jarvis Smith and his wife Katie Hill are thought leaders and pioneers within the ethical retail sector and care deeply about planetary restoration.
Jarvis explains, “Resilience to the My Green Pod platform and movement is offering as many everyday lifestyle products as we can that dance with and support Nature instead of raping her. TreeSisters founder Clare Dubois and I have been friends for a long time and recently reconnected at the climate change conference at Findhorn. When she talked to me about embedding restoration into every transaction, it hit my heart and added the dimension missing from our marketplace. We now plant a tree for every transaction made through our site, which is an ethical alternative to Amazon.
Our mission is to offer the best available options for everyday products. If we have to buy new, the least we can do is buy the best available. Products that have the least toxicity help everyone to lean into clean. We meet the people behind the brands and can tell very quickly if people are jumping on the Green Rush or doing it for genuine reasons and in meaningful ways. We will never sell our souls to the dark side; we will never support brands that contribute to deforestation and fossil fuels, and we will only ever offer the best. There is no such thing as perfect when it comes to shopping; perfection is using what you already have and growing your own organically, so we will always bring you the next best thing.
Our long-term plan is ambitious and still in the making. One thing I can share is that we're building a way that will allow people to choose ethical products that are locally delivered, cutting out the shipping and transport emissions to further build resilience. Watch this space! For now, we're excited to share our brand new NatureTv campaign, which helps everyone to reconnect to nature whilst working at home, and we'd love you to have a watch."
Resilience comes through restoration.
It is a privilege to partner with conscious businesses putting Earth restoration at the heart of what they do and growing forests. It's hugely inspiring, and what they are showing us is that restoration embedded into a company's mission leads to resilience and a healthy bottom line. As our network of business partners grows, it becomes increasingly clear that when we work to support life, life works to support us. Business resilience comes through restorative action.