Editor’s note: We have lots of talented and interesting eco-conscious readers from across the globe. In this new feature, we want to share their stories, in their words to inspire you to be better, to do better, to help you reach your unique version of ‘eco’ brilliance. If you are a loyal reader and have a story that you would love to share with the rest of the community, please get in touch!
“We’ve all been given a gift, the gift of life. What we do with our lives is our gift back” – Edo
I was born and raised in southern Sweden, and I was a happy kid. I remember how much I loved school and my friends there, who I had endless laugh breakouts with more or less on a daily basis. I was also surrounded by animals and brought up by equally animal-loving parents. My parents also taught me that I could basically become whatever I wanted, I had all the potential. My life was a gift, and I was embracing it and all the goodies that came with it. I grew up with a great portion of self-confidence, which I am sure has also helped out a lot in various situations throughout life.
As an adolescent, my goal in life was to be successful. Simple as that. To earn a lot of money so that I could go wherever I want, buy whatever I want, do whatever I want. I graduated with a bachelor in Business Administration from a well-renowned uni in Gothenburg, which also included studies from additional universities in Hawaii and Tenerife. Amazing locations, boosting my self-confidence even further. On top of that, I, later on, got a dream job at a fancy office in Melbourne, Australia, as a Building Coordinator for one of the most prestigious builders in Victoria.
I was at my peak, I was conquering the world. But I was not happy. I hadn’t recognized who I really was. I had created this role of being some fancy-pants person which was actually quite the opposite of who I really was at heart. I didn’t expect to be a total loser at my job, I didn’t expect to fail in more or less every single task that I tried to do there. It came over me that I wasn’t able to do this! Why?!
I just couldn’t manage to play this role of being someone that I am not, doing things that I didn’t see a greater purpose in doing. So my heart eventually won this battle (which I am super grateful for now).
Then I realized, what if all these achieving-what-I-wanted-situations was an important life lesson that I needed to learn? What if I needed to be this successful fancy-pants person only to discover that this is not the true purpose in life?
It was obvious that I had been given a gift, the gift of life. Something that I first thought was a gift of being able to do whatever I wanted in order to fulfill my own self. But the truth is, that what I do with my life is my gift back to no other than planet Earth and all living species on it.
I was born loving the Earth. Then, my ego kind of took over and I was just playing around with all the abundance of gift that I had access to, without even thinking about what the true cost for those items were. Then, something in me snapped. I started to investigate the true costs of these material privileges. I started to realize that every little thing I had just taken for granted in life, actually had a price other than lowering the number on my bank account.
So I was falling in love with Earth again. I was seeing things, products, materials, animals and other humans in a different way – like something that are connected to one and each other in an enormous collaborative ecosystem, rather than separate selves.
In the midst of this “awakening”, I came across a little video called “Sacred Economics with Charles Eisenstein” (embedded below). And with that, I realized for the first time ever that I was not alone. Everything fell in place and made total sense! I am highly grateful to Charles and to my friend Jenny who handed this over to me when I needed it the most, just when I started to seriously believe that I was a big failure and that my life was a mess. When all I just needed to know was that I was not alone and that the definition of success is not what you have got on your bank account or how many square feet your home is.
This video made me realize that people all over the world are going through the exact same thing, people all over the world are also starting to fall in love with planet Earth again. I went from feeling 100% alone – to feeling part of this beautiful collaborative system with many other like-minded people all over the world. You don’t have to physically be at the same place, you feel connected anyway. So, all over sudden, it came up to me that I actually had millions of peers out there, a feeling that is obviously very motivating.
I think one of the biggest problems that we as a humanity is facing today, is how we look at money. We use it as separate selves to boost our ego and fulfill, what we think are, our dreams. We look at money as a measure of how successful a person is, without reflecting about what the true cost is for those achievements.
I personally think that money is a smart tool when exchanging goods, just like a hammer is a smart tool when hitting a nail. But when people, startups, and enterprises are using money for continuous growth and profit maximising, I frankly think that money is crap. And the reason for this is that when you look at the money that way – you are hurting the planet.
What bothers me a lot though, is that continuous growth and profit maximising is exactly what the schools teach the kids today, still. It was the foundation of everything that I and my fellow student compadres learned in those business classes we attended.
When I, years after graduation, realized how unsustainable our economy is, it wasn’t very hard to implement gift economy as a payment model for my clients in my previous photo studio business. However, obviously, my clients and society as a whole, didn’t have this very same comprehension of how money and our economy is destroying the planet. Which is why the Gift Economy didn’t work. I was not able to pay my rent in images. However, I refused to give up and created something that I call Flexonomy instead – which is a twist from the Gift Economy fundamentals and basically means that the price for my services is flexible. I expect the client to pay, but they can adjust the price accordingly to how happy they are with the service (i.e. the images delivered).
It worked out so well in fact that we decided to implement Flexonomy within our platform at Fair Photo Agency in the sense that all clients can adjust the price +/- 20%. This is our way to contribute to the important questioning about money, that we humans need to start doing in order for us to be able to change our money system and make it more sustainable.
I sincerely hope that the we will start using “money for meaning”, rather than “money for status”.
I now live in the deep forests in Sweden again with my beloved spouse Peter, surrounded by both wild and domestic animals, in the most beautiful scenery.
And I am now on my biggest mission ever: giving back to Mother Earth through the power of imagery and photography, trying to empower the areas that need to be more visible in order for humankind to fall in love with planet Earth again. At Fair Photo Agency, we believe that those areas are within the organic, fair trade, animal rights, vegan and the circular economy field.
We strongly trust that, by increasing the visibility for all incentives that are working towards those areas, consumers will (consciously or unconsciously) fall in love with the planet again and as an effect also start using money for meaning.
Tomorrow, I will be heading off to San Francisco in an attempt to implement money for meaning further, by getting connected with like-minded people at an event called Nordic Impact Week. As I am of course being bothered about my travel carbon footprint, I am dedicated to making up for it in the long run by being able to support as many sustainable brands in their imagery and visibility as possible. Unfortunately, the number of potential collaborations with the same mindset of a sustainable money-for-meaning-system is scarce in Sweden.
I would love to connect with people who share the same values. Feel free to reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org