Symbiosis is a scientific term used in biology to describe the relationship between two different species. There are three types of symbiotic relationships: Mutualism, a relationship where both species benefit; think birds and flowers. Commensalism, where one species obtains a benefit, like food, from another species without harm or benefit to the latter; think lampreys and sharks. And Parasitism, a relationship in which one organism benefits at the expense of another; think humans and the Earth.
The fact that we don’t consider the Earth a living organism is probably our greatest misconception. For much of our history on this planet, we would have been considered commensalist in our relationship with our planet. Our earliest agricultural efforts may have even tilted us into the mutualist column. Then came the industrial revolution and “boom” there went the neighborhood. A warp speed race to technological advancement guided almost entirely by unbridled capitalism and of course the financial profits that came with it.
We can blame ignorance for our blind disregard of the damage and harm we were causing the planet. But, we know better now. We know what we are doing is harming our planet, and we do it anyway. We have fallen into the third column of symbiosis. We have become parasites to our planet.
We must change our ways. We must alter this symbiotic relationship with the planet that gives us life.
There is a movement afoot in America and all over the world. Businesses and organizations are becoming conscious of this role we have fallen into. They are changing their ways, their methods, their business practices. The bottom line is no longer their driving force. They are operating under a triple-bottom-line. One that weighs equally the profits of their actions socially, environmentally and economically. They have found a way to create healthy jobs, build infrastructure, combat poverty and offer better healthier products to consumers while replenishing what they take form the Earth. They have created industry that betters not only the lives of consumers but workers at every step of the value chain. They have created programs to benefit human beings who are not even involved in the production or purchase of their products. They haven’t just filled in their footprint, they’ve left a little mound on top of it, giving back more to the Earth than they took away. And, they’ve been able to do all this while growing and earning profits.
So, if handfuls of companies can operate and succeed in industry while adding benefit to our planet and our people, why can’t all?
It is because of us.
We the people, control the actions of industry. Not just as CEO’s and Managers, but as consumers. A capitalist society dictates that it is the people who in fact have the power to move mountains. By purchasing or ceasing to purchase the products of any company, we are actively forcing their direction and therefore their actions. It is the people that control this relationship we have with our Mother Earth. It is the people, and only the people, that control the fate of our planet.
So why aren’t we? Because we are sleeping in a sea of unconsciousness, and it’s time to wake up. Next time you go to the store, “demand more change”.
If someone called you a parasite, you’d probably be offended. If it was true, you’d probably try to change.
Well, “you’re a parasite.” We are all parasites.
To find out more about some of the businesses leading our migration back to symbiosis, see our partners pages: