Fantasy World Transcript


1. Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer:
If you look at the definitions of sustainability, they are all about trying to find a formula by which we can keep on taking. If you take from the earth, in order for balance to occur, you have to give back.

2. Brian Wellard, Team Leader, Tesco:
It's all groceries. You got the beer and wine section down there. All groceries that way. As you can see all the crisps and all that, everything.

3. Professor Tim Lang:
You can eat what you like all the time, when you like, doesn't matter, how it got to how much it costs. It's all getting cheaper and more plentiful. The entire second half of the 20th century unleashed a fantasy world. One of the biggest fantasies that we consumers have is that consumers as chooses. It's the most powerful, successful model that after the Second World War was offered, a better world would be one of more choice.
But all the evidence is that now, that's the problem.

4. Anna Bertmark:
So do you know where these are from?

5. Amy Godliman:
No, I've actually got no idea. Sorry.

6. Zita Cobb, CEO, Shorefast Foundation:
We should never allow an anonymous object in our home. If we don't know where it came from, who made it, where the money went, it's actually a form of pollution in our lives because objects can help us make meaning. We just have to ask them.

The illusion of choice and true cost

7. Presenter, Factory City: EUPA:
Chances are you own something built right here, factories like these don't exist in north America or Europe, but they're not uncommon in China where labor is cheap. Workers make one grill every 12 seconds. By next year, managers expect workers to crank out $500 million worth of grills. UPIS profits have to rise to out-muscle the competition.

8. Garrette E. Clark, Sustainable Lifestyles Officer, UNEP One Planet Network:
We know that every day there are millions of decisions that are taken. And for the lucky amongst us, it's around what we eat, where we live, how to get around what to wear, what we do for fun. And no matter how we make these choices, it will determine our quality of life, how we reach our aspirations. It will influence the aspirations of others and it will, it will also have impacts on the planet as well as people around us.

9. Jason Pelz, Vice President of Sustainability, Tetra Pak, Americas:
We make great packaging.

10. Heather Clancy, Editorial Director, GreenBiz Group:
How challenging would it be for Tetra Pak to collect and recycle or better reuse their packaging?

9. Jason Pelz, Vice President of Sustainability, Tetra Pak, Americas:
Uh, <laugh> we're, we're not set up to do. I mean, Tetra Pak. This there's a, a term that we use and, and we're, we don't recycle, but we're here to motivate recycling. There is no recycled content yet in our primary packaging. Um, there's a few reasons for that. And the primary one is that we need to make sure that it is safe.

11. Dr. Holly Kaufman:
Almost every piece of plastic that's ever been made still exists. So there is a mismatch between the life of a product, the nature of the material, and the length of time that you use a product and we have to rework that ratio. So we really have to get away from this notion that there is someplace on a map called away because there's not. And we're about to see where away really is.

12. Cat Fletcher, Freegle:
This t-shirt I'm wearing now required the same amount of water that I'm going to drink in the next three years, just to make one single t-shirt. We're not exposed to it. We don't see it every day, but the only reason that we can consume so much and have it so cheap, is that something, or somebody has been exploited along the way to enable you to be able to buy something so cheaply . The true value and the true cost of making that item is not reflected in the slashed prices that we can buy things at in the Western world.
I think if we understand where things come from, then we value them and we have more respect for them. It's only the Western world, around 15% of the world's population, get most of that stuff.

13. Lyrebird mimicking sounds of human made objects, Australia.

14. Pamela Gordon, Technology Forecasters Inc.:
What do customers want? We are all customers. What do we really want? Do we want more stuff? I think many of us, it's not that we want more stuff. We don't wanna be laden down in our pockets, purses, briefcase. What we really want is a better lifestyle. We want health. We want social interaction. We want education. We want creative and rewarding careers. We want family, we want adventure. We want friends. This is what we really want.

Our complex world

15. Trewin Restorick, CEO, Hubbub:
So I think consumers always and quite understandably focus on the things they can see. They focus on things they can touch and hold. So they focus on the thing that goes in their bin. Consequently, that has driven a desire to have a war on plastic. And really what we need is a war on carbon. But it's very hard for companies to message carbon because it's abstract. We actually need it in the atmosphere. So it's quite a hard piece of messaging to get across that, that, you know, if we're truly gonna tackle climate change, carbon is the, is the absolute key focus with plastics sort of important, but less so in the global context.

16. Rich Lesser, Global Chair, BCG:
We're making it so hard for consumers right now. There's no consistent labelling the messages of what it means to be green aren't clear because the measurements aren't fully transparent. We need to make it easy for people to make those choices.

17. Hugh Jones, Managing Director, The Carbon Trust:
The complications ultimately come from the many different ways the products can be made, consumed and used. The whole life cycle needs to be taken into account. And there are just so many variables to make it affordable. There's certain assumptions need to be made. It is pretty hard to convey those meaningfully on a single label when they're all measure on different scales.

18. Barry Clavin, Ethics and Sustainability Reporting Manager, Co-Op:
If I'm buying a mango, how much time do I want to spend understanding what's going into that mango? Or do I just want to know that that's come from a reliable source that I can trust. If somebody came to our store to buy a vegan product, but drove up in a gas-guzzling vehicle, you know, as opposed to somebody walk there for the steak, how do we have a broader appreciation of where our impacts are?

19. Emma Keller, Head of Sustainability UK & Ireland, Nestle:
Carbon is just one metric. We know that the lowest carbon eggs are when they're in cages, but that's absolutely not what we know we need to be doing in society. It's got to be about cage free, free range eggs. If you were to just focus on carbon, you might stick your hens back in cages, which is not, not what we want. So of course the answer to “What's the footprint of any product at any given time is?” it depends. And that's what makes this so complicated for us as Nestle. We depend on agricultural ingredients to make all of our products and between 70 and 90% of our entire carbon footprint comes from agriculture.

17. Hugh Jones, Managing Director, The Carbon Trust:
To make something carbon neutral, you are actually allowed to have emissions, but you then effectively compensate for those with high quality offsets.

18. Barry Clavin, Ethics and Sustainability Reporting Manager, Co-Op:
Carbon neutrality in itself, higher offsetting, doesn't get us anywhere. A business, having a net zero ambition as well, still needs to do something about all the carbon that will be put out over the next 20 to 30 years. It will take some time and it will take some trial and error. But the primary reason that we should be doing that is to reduce our impacts and labelling is secondary to that. We have to be mindful of how do we do this in a fair way for everybody? How do we transition for both individuals, for farmers, producers, manufacturers?

20. Nicole Battefeld, Barista (Ann-Catrin Malessa, translator):
With any other product. We always want to know every detail. We don't have that option with coffee at all because 95% of the market is dominated by a very opaque trading system. Consumers don't even know that world coffee prices in 2019 were at rock bottom for farmers. They go to the supermarket buy their beans and think that everything is normal. You have to tell them more, check what you're buying, ask questions, look at the package. If there's no information on it, how do you know what you're buying?

21. Allan Mubiru, Founder, Kaffe Kooperative:
Many of the young people are losing interest, in going into coffee business because the incomes in the coffee business are too low. So it's our goal are to make sure that, you know, coffee farmers have better incomes and that will attract young people to come back into coffee business.

Caring consumption

3. Professor Tim Lang:
More equal societies are better societies, more equal food systems, feed people better. A different model of food progress is doable. For the West to eat simpler diets, more plant-based diets, would be a huge change that would be for the good. In the poor world, it's a totally different picture. They've gotta eat more. They need more range, more food, more quantity. So we've got very different directions. Uh, according to who the we is. Bangladesh, we in London: it's a different planet. It's a, we, I don't blame it. It's we. I'm it. Am I entitled to a low impact food system? It's a systemic crisis. So we have to have systems change.

Computer phone voice sound effect:
"Hopeful life helpline, connecting. Please hold."

8. Garrette E. Clark, Sustainable Lifestyles Officer, UNEP One Planet Network:
People don't change their behavior just because they should. The average person doesn't wake up to save the planet. Now the good news is they don't wake up to hurt it either, but we need to keep that in mind. Evidence is showing us that household decisions are associated with more than 70% plus of GHG emissions. So households are where it is happening. There's a huge potential to harness household decision making. Sustainable living is not just about individual choice. It's also about governments and businesses looking at policies and practices, which will make sustainable living the default option. Living sustainably needs to be easy, accessible, affordable, and attractive. We need to make sustainable living irresistible to make change happen.

11. Dr. Holly Kaufman:
We have tremendous influence over the organizations and municipalities of which we are a part.

22. Mariana Mazzucato:
We should as society, pause and ask, what value are we even creating? We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. This required the public sector, the private sector, to invest and innovate. There was lots of actual mistakes that were done along the way, but are failures part of value creation? Are they just mistakes, or how do we actually also nurture the experimentation, the trial and error and error and error.

1. Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer:
How are we to move away from this exploitative worldview? From our view of ourselves solely as consumers, if we can't even conceive of a mutualism with the earth and it starts by asking ourselves, what will I give in return for the gifts of the earth? What are our gifts as human people? We can't fly. We can't breathe underwater and we can't even photosynthesise. But we do have the gift of choice. We have the gift of story. We have the gift of gratitude, of love. I don't think honestly that what we need today is more data, more studies, new technology, or even more money. What is needed is an ethical shift, a change in the story that we tell ourselves about our relationship to the living world. We need a restoration of honour. An honour, that we can all choose in the daily way that we live; ethics that are made in daily decisions so that when we walk through the world, we don't have to avert our eyes with shame, but hold our heads up high and receive the respectful acknowledgement of all of the rest of the beings.
And the reward is not just a good sense of responsibility. It could save our lives.

Sainsbury's checkout machine:
Thank you, goodbye!

Fantasy World Audio references in order of appearance:
  1. Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, “The Honourable Harvest”,”
  2. Brian Wellard, "BBC Shopping the Supermarkets Shop Smart,” v=VGPQoN8VJyY
  3. Professor Tim Lang, “Tim Lang at EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2017,” v=-2Vn2HldJxk
  4. Anna Bertmark
  5. Amy Godliman (friend of author)
  6. Zita Cobb, “What Art has to do with the Price of Fish - Community Economics,” https:// v=6RWnbKHT6lg.
  7. “Factory City: EUPA . Documentary China labors and the largest factory in the world,” https://
  8. Garrette E. Clark, “Fostering 1.5 degrees lifestyles with urban partnerships - Workshop Session”, ICELIGlobal,
  9. Jason Pelz, “Supporting Business in the Race to Create the World’s Most Sustainable Package,“ https://
  10. Heather Clancy, “Supporting Business in the Race to Create the World’s Most Sustainable Package,”
  11. Dr.HollyKaufman,“HollyKaufman-NoSuchPlaceAs"Away"-SunValleyForum2019,”https://
  12. Cat Fletcher, “How to rethink your relationship with 'stuff' | Cat Fletcher | TEDxBrighton,” https://
  13. Lyrebird.Australia,
  14. Pamela Gordon, “Recall: How Outsourcing Obscures the Global Supply Chain,” https://
  15. Trewin Restorick, “Supporting Business in the Race to Create the World’s Most Sustainable Package,“
  16. Rich Lesser, “Rich Lesser on Climate, Hard Truths, and Hope,” what/climate-hope-and-the-hard-truths-with-rich-lesser
  17. Hugh Jones, “The Bottom Line -Carbon labelling,”
  18. Barry Calvin, “The Bottom Line -Carbon labelling,”
  19. Emma Keller, “The Bottom Line -Carbon labelling,”
  20. Nicole Battefeld (Ann-Catrin Malessa, translator), “Guilt-free Brew - Fair Trade, Sustainable Coffee,”
  21. Allan Mubiru, Founder, Kaffe, “Guilt-free Brew - Fair Trade, Sustainable Coffee,” https://
  22. Mariana Mazzucato, “What is economic value, and who creates it? | TED | Mariana Mazzucato,” https://
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