Tuesday, November 7, 2017

“Creating Good: Entrepreneurs for the Environment” Mini-Course at the HNC

If you’ve never thought about soda cans sitting on the ocean floor, or how the fish you may have eaten yesterday used to feed on small, toxic plastic pieces that float throughout oceanic water columns, neither did most of us attending Doug Woodring’s three-day ERE mini-course at Hopkins-Nanjing Center, “Creating Good: Entrepreneurs for the Environment”. A SAIS/Wharton graduate and a resident of Hong Kong for the last 20 years, Doug shared with us his past successes, present endeavors, and future aspirations regarding the monumental task of reducing global plastic pollution -- and how we, as potential entrepreneurs, could do the same.

 Director and Co-Founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance, Mr. Woodring inspired us to think about how plastic products and related services can be changed to reduce plastic footprints through design alterations and publicity, and how by imagining areas of constructive conflict between brands and creatively challenging businesses to embrace social responsibility, we can realize positive change. Some of the current projects that he and the Ocean Recovery Alliance have partnered with, such as the My Little Plastic Footprint app (beta now available) and the Plastic Soup Foundation (see thought-provoking video) served as tangible and provocative examples of how to stimulate action and awareness regarding the plastic problem we all are facing.

Despite the severity of the pollution tragedy that is unfolding upon our land, rivers, and seas, Mr. Woodring’s mini-course drove home the optimistic idea that there is still much work that must and can be done to expand human economic activity into the realms of environmental rehabilitation and recovery. Though there were only three days to explore the problems and solutions surrounding plastic, the weekend was one of productive engagement and reflection that informed the environmentalist and business-minded alike, even breaking down the barrier between the two and showing how both outlooks are essential for a healthy ecology of future entrepreneurship.

Written by Nick Manthey, MAIS '19