In 2007, Canadian John Hardy sold his successful jewellery business and moved to Bali. There, driven by a passion for sustainability, green education and bamboo, he and his wife Cynthia co-founded the Green School and initiated other environmentally friendly enterprises. The sustainability advocate was in Singapore recently to share his vision of a greener world – which, he suggests, starts with you and me.
You’ve achieved remarkable success in Bali, but tell us about your larger-scale vision of a greener world.
I see the lessons and deeds in Bali as a model for island achievement. And I see things that are happening in Bali – because it’s such an attractive, incredibly energised place – that can be scaled to other islands in the world. Education and design are so important. At Green School we’re creating a green leader “vortex”, because we really need green leaders. We have enough of the regular kind of leaders. Humans have designed a world that doesn’t work – and now we have to design a world that does work.
Is Bali your full-time home?
Yes. I love Bali and I wouldn’t live anywhere else. I travel a lot because there are many people who dream of having a Green School, or a greener island, so I spread the word.
What steps can we take to practise sustainable living every day?
Start with the basic questions. Think about your children asking you these questions: “Mum and Dad, is what you do every day making a better world for me?” Then do something very basic: figure out where your poop goes, and where your energy comes from. Ask the people you buy your clothing from, “Is this compostable or recyclable?” – and don’t take no for an answer. Some things are stupidly simple: carry a water bottle, and don’t ever accept another plastic cup. Go further and compost everything in your house, or take it to the local compost station. Become part of the future. As little difference as you make, it’s a signal and a sign for many others.
Change starts with children, so what would you like to see taught in schools around the world in regards to the environment and living sustainability?
We have seen over many years – and continue to see – the “talking head” system, where some smart guy with the facts is standing in front of the room, guarding those facts and dispensing them judiciously. The only thing that that produces is more smart guys. Education has to be dynamic; it’s about doing and learning, not about facts being dispensed by smart guys at the front of the room. Environment is everything. Kids who live in schoolrooms that are off the grid and practise sustainability will be different kids. That’s because it’s not about teaching and talking, it’s about doing and experiencing. Kids need to be encouraged to find causes; maybe recycling, or finding out where their poop goes and what happens to it.
On a personal note, one of your children, Elora, is living and working in Bali; are any of your other children doing so?
My son Orin was upset that I didn’t insist that he study in school so he could get a job in America. When Uncle Sam sent him packing because he’s a Canadian, I said to him, “Orin, it’s not about getting a job, it’s about making jobs and making the world a better world.” And that’s exactly what he and Maria Farrugia are doing at Kulkul Farm, a permaculture farm near Green School.
This is an article that first appeared in the November 2016 edition of Expat Living. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!
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