Hunting for change

G Magazine

From the foothills of Colorado, USA, Hunter Lovins is a woman convincing big businesses globally to become more sustainable.


Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism Inc.

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Despite saying that she doesn’t think of herself as an environmentalist, for more than 50 years, Lovins has been an unstoppable crusader creating positive environmental change. To be ‘in’ with the commerce crowd, she learnt that you’ve got to talk the lingo. Now, Lovins challenges businesses and governments – and she’s beating them at their own game.

Natural Capitalism Inc. is your business name – what does it mean?

“Natural capitalism is an approach to doing business that is more profitable than what we do now and solves most of the problems facing us. Nature has no waste, the output of any process in nature is food for some other. Companies that are using this approach as the basis for their design are finding that they can make products cheaper, better and with much less harm to the environment.”

What incentives do businesses have to move towards a more sustainable approach?

“The biggest incentive is that it is what their customers want. Very few of us get up in the morning saying to ourselves ‘I’m going to end life on Earth’, and yet that’s what the business community collectively, and now our way of life, is doing. When you survey customers, they say they’d prefer to buy a green product – overwhelmingly. This is an enormous opportunity for businesses to innovate, and the companies that get there first will do very well.”

Do you tend to get involved in politics?

“Yes, but I don’t think much of most leaders. Although yours just recently showed some amazing backbone in putting in place a carbon emissions scheme. So, good on her! What the world needs right now is strong leadership.”

What helps you to recharge and keep going?

“A bottle of good scotch whisky! Seriously, sitting down with friends and regaining my perspective. I also go into nature, I’ll saddle up the horse and ride up into the high country, realising that nature has it’s own amazing restorative capacity. However bad it may look right now, if we give nature half a chance, it can restore things in ways that we never thought of. Even if it is as bad as we think – and the science is pretty grim right now – life is amazingly restorative. Myself, I’d rather keep around the kind of life we have now, retain life as we know it on this planet, and so that’s what I’ve devoted my life to.”

Are there some climate sceptic arguments that really irk you?

“Yeah, the ‘I don’t believe in climate change’. Frankly, the Earth doesn’t give a damn what you believe, climate change isn’t something you believe in or not, it is scientific fact. The way I approach them is to say, fine, call it a hoax, but don’t go to the casino on the odds of that being true. But if all you care about is being a profit-maximising capitalist, you’ll do exactly what you were doing if you were scared to death of climate change, so lets go. If it turns out it’s a hoax, we’ll make a lot of money. If it turns out it’s real, we’ll make a lot of money. So, the science just became ‘bar talk’; let’s solve the problem and make money, then we can argue about whether or not it’s real.”