On 31st October, Sir Nicholas Stern, working for the UK Government, released the Stern Review. This review looked at the potential economic costs for global warming with a headline that global warming could shrink the global economy by 20% and up to 200 million people could become refugees as their homes are hit by drought or flood.

This is grim news and it worries me. We appear to be heading for a catastrophic disaster and there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it.

Let me tell you what else happened on 31st October. The tradition of Halloween’s trick or treat is one of the many things we have imported from the US. We had a Halloween party and took a gang of kids out. We loved it. I will use Halloween here as a microcosm of a much wider issue.

Before Halloween, the supermarkets had aisles dedicated to products. There were dressing-up clothes, scary masks, make-up, balloons, and every type of plastic thingamajig you can think of. Around the globe, similar scenes were duplicated in thousands of supermarkets.

Lets look at the value-chain here. A Halloween product is designed and commissioned. Raw materials are gathered from around the world and shipped to a manufacturing plant possibly in China. The product is assembled andshipped, possibly by airplane, into the UK. The product is shipped by road to the supermarket for sale. The product is used for one evening. The product goes into a landfill.

The annual Halloween value-chain produces a lot of CO2. I would imagine mainly from transportation. In a world that is looking to dramatically reduce CO2 production, this value-chain may become unsustainable. It may be that we need to re-evaluate our true needs as consumers?

So what’s this got to do with Lean Six Sigma? Or to put it another way, how can Lean Six Sigma be applied here? I don’t know, but it’s worrying me.

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