“Our oceans are dying. Australia is on fire. The ice caps are melting. Global temperatures are rising. And everyone is going about business as usual. ”
Words: Lex Weinstein
Images: Leia Vita Marasovich, Sarah Lee and Tahnei Roy
A couple of years ago, Lex Weinstein asked herself one simple question: “How could I live one way in my personal life yet another in business and expect to live a fulfilled and purpose-driven life?” Since that day, she made a point of aligning her business with her core values. Despite the challenges she had to face, she never gave up in “making a massive change”. She explains.
Enough is enough.
We all hit a breaking point, mine happened to be in December of 2017. Approaching the new year and a return to the U.S after living five years abroad, a grappling frustration was sinking my soul like an anchor to the pit of my stomach on a daily basis.
We’re all a bunch of hypocrites. Our oceans are dying. Australia is on fire. The ice caps are melting. Global temperatures are rising. And everyone is going about business as usual.
I’m a lifelong surfer, in love with the ocean and the billowing expression of life she has granted me for my loyalty. The scraps of life experience I’d collected over the years, from intentional living in Australia, to farming on Hawai’i, to minimalist travel all over the world, had collaged into a sacred scroll that guided the trajectory of my every move. I couldn’t abandon that no matter how the social climate around me may have shifted.
“How could I live one way in my personal life yet another in business and expect to live a fulfilled and purpose-driven life?”
I knew what was right and what wasn’t. I prided myself in that, in being conscious and living in alignment with my values. Yet the way I scrutinized my own footprint was far more intense than the way I scrutinized my clients’ and the way I engaged in a business setting. How could I live one way in my personal life yet another in business and expect to live a fulfilled and purpose-driven life? No amount of money could justify that. So I decided to make a change, a massive change. But how could I do so in a way that focused on the positives, the solutions, the aspects we CAN control? Because no progress can truly be made in the shadows of shame. We must be the light.
“Rather than keep it to myself, I shared the list, made a public commitment to our oceans, and offered an open invitation to my clients to take on these practices.”
So I made a list. I nailed down the dream qualities and the ethical/environmentally focused practices that I felt should be the bare minimum of any business existing in the modern world. Rather than keep it to myself, I shared the list, made a public commitment to our oceans, and offered an open invitation to my clients to take on these practices. I called it the “Conscious Collab Checklist” and made a minimum of three boxes checked as the criteria for collaboration. “As a creative director, producer, storyteller, ambassador – let me share your journey of conscious creativity,” I wrote.
The response: crickets. Only one person replied to my manifesto – Séréna Lutton, now part of Warm Collective’s founding team. She was so impressed, but I thought maybe I’d just made a huge mistake. I walked away from money, contacts, experience, opportunities…all the things that matter when climbing the hierarchical career ladder of the United States. I was scared. But I wasn’t a hypocrite, and that felt better. So I stuck with it.
Within a month or two, a shift began to occur. People and businesses began using my list and asking questions: What could they do? How could they be better? How could they achieve some of the goals I presented? “Purchase Power” as activism became a central theme of my work. Businesses who actually were striving for better but didn’t want to brag about it asked me to do so for them. And I agreed, happily.
“My attention was now on celebrating the limitless opportunities we have to improve our day to day practices as well as our large scale impact.”
From a conversation to reality.
Not only was the conversation shifting, but my reality was. All of a sudden, I went from focusing on what was wrong with industry and our hypocritical habits to seeing how much progress was available to us. My attention was now on celebrating the limitless opportunities we have to improve our day to day practices as well as our large scale impact, and how eager people are to learn and do more. I felt hope, I felt inspired, and most importantly, I felt aligned.
In raising our standards and pressuring the status quo, we might have a shot at turning things around. But the bar must always be lifted, and we must always be brave enough to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Can I do better?” In our communities, at work and at home, we must never be scared to ask others to do the same. We must evolve from tactics of exclusion or shame, rather extending an invitation that holds us all in reverence to our reliance on a healthy planet.
With every second breath we take coming from our oceans, it’s safe to say we need her. And when it comes down to it, I just want to live in a world where my future daughter can fall in love with the sea, too.