Environmental thought leader and former monk Satish Kumar is the founder of Schumacher College in Devon and the Editor Emeritus of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine, which are both dedicated to ecology and sustainability. His latest book, Elegant Simplicity distills five decades of reflection and wisdom into a guide for everyone on how to live well.
One word that describes you?
What project are you most proud of when it comes to sustainability?
Schumacher College, which has been training young people to live sustainably and promote sustainability.
Which is your favourite part of your job?
Teaching. I love to interact with young people, particularly at Schumacher College.
Which is the part that you enjoy the least?
Unfortunately, I live around two hours drive from Schumacher College, and there is no easy public transport to it, so I enjoy driving the least.
Who is your greatest influence?
Mahatma Gandhi. His message was to live simply so others may simply live. In my view living simply is a prerequisite for sustainability.
The latest IPCC Report noted that our planet will reach 1.5C by 2030 (not 2050 as was originally suggested). How would you suggest we get people to ‘do more’ to help this situation?
The best way to mitigate the impact of climate crisis is to plant trillions of trees. Every citizen in the world should plant at least five trees and take care of them.
What are you, your family and/or your company doing to reduce and offset your carbon footprint and inspire others to do the same?
My family and my staff live much closer to their work than many in big cities, and either walk or cycle to work to reduce their carbon footprint.
What is your personal favourite company that’s inspiring others to be sustainable?
My favourite travel-related company is Green Tourism who are genuinely inspiring hotels and guest houses to become sustainable.
What other steps do you take to make your daily life more committed to sustainability?
I shop locally, promote the local economy, and grow my own vegetables.
What do you think must happen now to help make our planet, people and profit more committed to sustainability?
Instead of being mere consumers we must become growers, builders and makers. Consumerism and sustainability are like chalk and cheese.
If you could have one hour with a world leader, what would you say?
I would say that, rather than focusing on economic growth, your focus should be on the growth of wellbeing. To do this you have to be a statesman rather than a mere politician.