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Commitment is at the heart of their business. These men and women are inspired by the world to act differently and sustainably, making their environment a channel for expression, creativity, innovation and solidarity. Finance, culture, crafts, industry and the media are just some of the fields embodied by these personalities, who agreed to take part in the Proust questionnaire in La Mèche mode. What are their enduring secrets? As far as you’re concerned, they’re spilling the beans.

Production: Cornland Studio

After founding, among other things, an online news site, producing a TV show and imposing his style as an authentic host who “useless anyway“and “who is not on television as he is on stage, but as he is in life “In 2017, Jonas Schneiter moved from the Swiss public radio station Couleur 3 to La 1.reto host a new show. He is now at the helm of the program Premier Rendez-Vous, broadcast from 2 to 3 pm on RTS La Première.
In summer 2017, together with environmentalist Marc Muller, he completed a tour of French-speaking Switzerland highlighting positive initiatives for sustainable development. This will give rise to the “Aujourd’hui” program, broadcast on RTS Un for two months. The program achieved very high audience ratings and won the Audience Award at the Swiss Web Festival.
Since January 2018, he has been at the helm of the debate and humor program Les Beaux Parleurs broadcast every Sunday morning on RTS La Première.
At the same time, since 2014, he has been involved as an ambassador for the Swiss Terre des Hommes Foundation.
In August 2018, he published
Ecolo à profit
published by Helvetiq. This 136-page book recounts the journalist’s experiences in reducing his carbon footprint while making his savings grow.

Transcription

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jonas, I’m 30 years old and I’m a journalist and producer for radio and television.

What’s your current state of mind?

I’m in a rather positive frame of mind, I find this period rather euphoric, so I’m rather euphoric and I find that there are quite a few opportunities, new ideas, there’s a rather fresh current and I like to let myself be carried along by this current that’s a bit fresh at the moment.

How did your desire to get involved come about? What triggered it?

I don’t have a real desire for commitment because I’m rather lazy and selfish, but I was taught certain things that revolted me and forced me to get moving. When I hear things that are radically untrue, for example, it irritates me and I can’t remain passive, so I’m obliged to get involved to set the record straight. I find it hard to let people say things that are absurd, stupid or untrue.

How does this commitment play out in everyday life?
on a daily basis?

This commitment takes up a lot of my time, it’s close to my job and I have to be careful because I’m in a job where it’s not good to be committed. A committed journalist is half a journalist, whereas a committed doctor is a doctor squared. I’m an ambassador for Terre des Hommes too, and I’m careful not to let it interfere with my professional hours. I’m not a journalist when I’m an ambassador for Terre des Hommes, and when I’m a journalist I’m not an ambassador for this or that NGO.

What does it mean to be green today?

Being an ecologist today means taking a long, hard look at things and paying close attention to a lot of things. Being green certainly doesn’t mean going with the pack, it certainly doesn’t mean taking the easy way out, it certainly doesn’t mean trying to please yourself first. And we have to be extremely careful about this because there are a lot of false friends in ecology today and we tend to think that being green is very simple, you just have to buy this or that, do this or that and in fact being green is often much more complicated than it seems at first sight.

What personalities or people inspire you?

People who inspire me in part rarely inspire me completely. I can’t have someone I idolize from A to Z, so I’m always a bit ashamed of the people who inspire me, because there are things I hate in the people who inspire me too. I’m very embarrassed to say in a video that this person inspires me, because afterwards people will say that it’s this person who inspires them totally. I can give two examples like that, they’re two antagonistic examples from the world of ecology. Dominique Bourg inspires me, he’s a philosopher who’s sometimes a bit extreme, sometimes a bit militant, sometimes in my opinion really wrong, so I don’t totally assume that Dominique Bourg inspires me, but on certain things he inspires me. And at the other extreme, I’m inspired by Elon Musk, but he has his excesses, he’s a neoliberal, and so on many points I’m a little ashamed to be inspired by Elon Musk, so it’s difficult to say that these people inspire me, but let’s say it anyway, and that shows the problem I have in my life, which is that I’m inspired by both a Dominique Bourg and an Elon Musk.

How do you integrate the notion of sustainability into your work?

In my profession, which is that of journalist, I integrate sustainability into the heart of the investigations I carry out, the work I do, the energy I put in, and for me, being a sustainable journalist doesn’t mean sorting your waste, working on a wooden table, or turning off the light in the next room….When you go to a big company and ask someone what they do sustainably, they’ll often mention lighting, travel, in short, the little things they do for sustainability. Being a sustainable journalist today isn’t about doing little things, not necessarily sorting your waste, it’s about informing the public so that we can reduce the millions of tonnes of CO2 we emit every year. A committed and sustainable journalist is one who seeks the truth specifically on ecological issues.

What are the biggest challenges you face in this area?

There’s a lot of misinformation about ecology and we tend to think that it’s always the oil lobby that’s misinforming us. It’s true that the oil lobby misinforms enormously, but it’s not just the oil lobby; there are also false friends, there are also people who claim to be ecologists and who aren’t, who do a lot of misinformation and who are seen as absolutely pure from an ecological point of view, and there are a lot of activists who campaign for something other than ecology, so I campaign for ecology and something else, I campaign for ecology and against America, I campaign for ecology and for Russia, well I’m taking examples like that but we realize that. So you have to be very careful about that, and the difficulty is that there are a lot of pitfalls on the road to ecological truth.

What solutions have you put in place to meet these challenges?

The solutions lie in hard work and refusing to take the easy way out. When people tell me it’s simple, that’s how it is or ah you didn’t understand, it’s much simpler than you think, I’m very wary of that, so you really have to reject simplicity at all costs, and that’s extremely difficult. But I think that’s the only tool we can use, is to refuse when someone tells us it’s simple or when something looks totally simple, to say to ourselves that if it’s so simple, it’s probably not true…

How do we integrate the human element into this process?

I’m not an extremely social guy, and I tend to make fun, or maybe I used to make fun, of people who hug trees, for example. I was thinking yes, well, they’re not ecologists, they’re people who hug trees, it’s got nothing to do with ecology. And that’s the human question, so when we set up a greener world, would we take advantage of it to set up a more humane world? Does one necessarily go with the other, and there are a lot of false friends in there too, because we’d like to pass off a lot of things that are totally noble, like equal pay for example, with ecology, when there’s no real link between ecology and equal pay. There are plenty of people who will tell you yes, but it will be scientifically difficult to prove, yet both ideas are noble. So, of course, we need to be more human in ecology etc., but on certain points, such as the way we travel, the way we work, the way we live, of course we can please both humans and the planet, but there are also points where it’s antagonistic.

What, if anything, has the pandemic changed in your relationship with the world?

Yes, the pandemic has changed my relationship with the world for sure. It used to seem almost offensive not to come to an appointment, but now I feel it’s almost a nuisance to come to the appointment. We all know that it’s simpler and more pleasant to do it by videoconference: no need to make coffee for the other person, no need to clean up at home or at the office, and so on. I mean, it’s four times better, so there are things like that that are a bit easy to do. I’ve also seen some giants having a bit of a hard time in this pandemic, and some very small ones doing very well, and this may have brought back a bit of humility, not in everyone, but there are some who have taken a good dose of humility in this story, who have learned agility, who have learned to adapt, and this will be very useful even beyond the pandemic.

Tell me about your most beautiful nature memory…

Unfortunately, these are foreign memories, memories that involve flying, and therefore destroying a bit of nature, which I took the opportunity to tell you about. For example, Tanzania, an incredible natural environment, the island of Zanzibar with its luxuriant vegetation. You feel as if you’re getting close to the plants – they make you feel good straight away, and you don’t really know why – and these succulent plants, the humidity… These are my memories of nature, which are often linked to wildlife. In Tanzania, for example, I appreciate wildlife more than flora, so seeing incredible animals and so on. Those are my great memories of nature. But if I wanted to enjoy it a lot, talk about it a lot and look like an ecologist fascinated by nature, I’d have to destroy it by flying several times a year, another paradox.

If you had to be a tree, which one would you be and why? A bush is ok too!

Yes, I could be a bush, no, but definitely not those bushes…no no no no those bushes in villa areas where dogs pee on them definitely not. No, no, it’s a big, impressive tree in the middle of the forest that everyone comes to hug all day long to feel green before driving their 4x4s back to their oil-heated homes.

What natural ability or skill would you like to have?

Resilience, and this also goes against the grain of the green movement, but nature always pulls through, so even when you put a disgusting mine on nature, in the end it’s going to take time, it’s going to suffer, but in the end it’s resilient and there’s always a little plant that’s going to come out, that’s going to allow this or that, so that’s what I’d like to have from nature, I’d like to be resilient like a forest.

If you were an energy source, what would you be?

I’m learning more these days about earth energy, about geothermal energy, and it’s interesting to think that there are actually lots of energies that can come from the heart of the earth. Maybe that’s it, the energy of the earth.

Your favourite season?

My favorite season is summer, of course! I’m some kind of idiot who puts me on a deckchair, who wants to face the sun to get all red, to peel… That’s how happy I am, only summer makes me happy 😉

What’s your favourite landscape?

The view of the lake. Since I’m looking for a new apartment, a new house, I’m a bit obsessed with the view of the lake, so yes, I think this is my favorite landscape. We’re in a country where people are prepared to pay fortunes for a view of the lake, whatever the lake, whatever the end of the lake.

What does preserving the planet mean to you?

Preserving the planet isn’t easy, I’d say. And preserving the planet means being extremely clever, preserving the planet means innovating, preserving the planet means finding incredible things. I speak like Elon Musk, but to speak like Dominique Bourg, who also inspires me, I have to say that preserving the planet also means calming down, preserving the planet means refusing, giving up… and it’s true that it’s also a bit of that.

What kind of pollution do you dislike?

Ah well, it’s the loose pollution that doesn’t do much, but it’s the chewing gum dropped on the freeway, the cigarette lying around, etc. I sometimes participate in this pollution too, I give myself good excuses, “oh yeah I threw this away because there’s no dustbin, it’s scandalous these villages where there’s no dustbins!” But no, the scandal is that I’m the one who threw this or that away. So yes, it’s this cowardly, easy, idiotic pollution, these morons who throw their rubbish into the forest, that can only make us angry. It’s not a real problem for the planet, this little loose pollution, but it’s a bit discouraging, because you think, okay, if he can’t even find a dustbin, is he going to be able to save the planet, this moron, it’s not certain…

What solution for the planet are you looking forward to?

It’s a question of energy, so I’m waiting for a solution that will create sufficient energy without creating CO2. Basically, if we find it today, we’re saved, we’ve saved a good part, we’ve solved a good part of the problem. So that’s what we need to find, so there are bits and pieces of solutions: solar, wind, geothermal, etc., but they’re always bits and pieces. So the miracle solution that would create energy without CO2 and nuclear waste is what we’re waiting for now.

What’s the one anti-sustainable gesture you’re having trouble giving up?

Individual mobility. I have an electric car, so it’s not as bad as a petrol car, but it’s still individual mobility. I came to this interview on my own, I’m going to go back to my office on my own, that’s it. I’m looking forward to a weekend of individual mobility. That’s something from the old world, I have to learn to live without it and it’s a bit of a shame, I sometimes go to appointments and take care to park far away, to arrive on foot. If I’m late in a traffic jam sometimes I’ll say I’m sorry I missed the train. I’m that kind of mythomaniac who doesn’t accept my individual mobility.

The anti-environmental sin that inspires your indulgence?

Individual mobility. We must be indulgent towards all those people who keep their cars 😉

What can’t you find in your kitchen anymore?

Already, I don’t find my cooking at all appealing. I mostly eat out or order in. Unfortunately, meat is available. Perhaps what we don’t find are the products of caricature, the fruit that’s really radically out of season, the cheap meat from the other side of the world that has made everyone suffer, starting with those who had to kill the animal, then the animal, then there it is, finally, horrible. So these products are a bit of a caricature, but you can find meat, you can find lots of things that you wouldn’t find in an ecologist’s kitchen in my kitchen.

What sustainable gesture makes you feel good?

Accommodation. I live in a home that is not totally sustainable, but which I have tried to make as sustainable as possible. I’m looking for another home that will be even more durable, and in fact I’ve noticed that anything that’s durable in a home brings a great deal of comfort, pleasure and happiness. So yes, I would say everything that is sustainable in housing. It brings me happiness, it feels good.

What green prejudice have you abandoned?

The ecologist is a guy or gal with greasy hair and an itchy sweater, but I’ve given up on that. I’ve often told this story: the first year we did this green show with Marc Muller in 2017 for RTS, we took this solar bus and then did this show called Aujourd’hui and then the first four or five guests we met were millionaires. Then I said to Marc, “What’s all this green stuff you’re letting us meet?” I’d never met an eco-millionaire before, because for me, an eco-lover lived in the forest. And here I really had this stupid idea of the ecologist who is inevitably decreasing, greasy hair… Which also exists and is honorable, but it doesn’t represent the whole of ecology, and just because you’ve got a sweater that stings doesn’t mean you’re more ecological than the guy or gal in the shirt or blouse.

Your biggest contradiction?

My biggest contradiction is to draw theories on ecology, driving a car, taking a plane, that’s it. I’m a journalist with a passion for ecology, and I work mainly on this theme, but I don’t do everything right, not by a long shot. That’s a contradiction that’s hard to accept.

If you had to have a sustainable or green currency, what would it be? Or maybe you have an hour for that matter?

It’s all about make-believe so it would be “think, think some more”, something like that. But that would be more than taking care of each other.

I think you’ll like my next question… What’s your idea of happiness?

My idea of happiness? Alone in front of the TV in the living room!… No, my idea of happiness is… I don’t know, happiness would be a totally clear conscience. And I don’t think there are many of us today in this country or on this planet with a completely clear conscience. There can’t be many of us who are completely happy. I’m not in ecstasy from morning to night.

And your idea of pleasure?

My idea of pleasure? Oh, that’s terrible, because for me it’s a real guilty pleasure. So I love doing something outrageous! So it’s difficult. Perhaps pleasure is the greatest obstacle to my happiness.

How do you think we can make a difference as individuals?

We have a lot to do. First of all, we have to stop blaming the collective or companies for the cliché. On an individual level, we have a huge amount to do: the idea that it’s only the individual who has to change is obviously false, but it’s true that in recent years companies have made efforts, even if we continue to find some of their actions scandalous. States have made efforts, and individuals have continued to increase their CO2 emissions. So individuals now have to do something, yes.

And at the collective level?

And on a collective level, we also need to do something. The collective is first and foremost the sum of individuals, so the collective behaves as individuals behave. If everyone became extremely green, we’d be in an extremely green state, with only companies selling extremely green products, so we’d have an extremely green collective too.

What’s your utopia?

My utopia is that we stop talking about ecology, that the problem is solved. That’s what we’re going to be experiencing over the next few months with the pandemic, it would be like saying ok we’ve had a hard time with ecology, but now we can talk about something else.

More realistically, what do you think are the three things needed to change the world?

We need to know the truth about a lot of things. More truth. Courage, we have to dare, we have to show courage on things that may seem silly, but moving from individual mobility to collective mobility, selling your car, taking the general subscription, in fact that takes courage! We need courage and kindness. We shouldn’t judge those who haven’t made the transition yet. To stigmatize them and mock them is to make them even more climate sceptical and polluters, so we need to be benevolent.

What should tomorrow’s community look like?

If the new world were made up of a single community with identical rules everywhere, it would be hell. A kind of giant global “coloc” would be horrible, so I hope that there will be several communities, that there will be a good place for the individual, that there will be corners where we can get away with doing outrageous things. Then I hope there won’t just be some big, right-thinking community that does everything right – that would be hell.

Thank you very much!

Thank you!


We’d love to hear your inspiring stories! If you’d like to try your hand at the Proust questionnaire, or share your experience, commitment, tips or gripes, go to the “Share with us” discussion forum on the La Mèche platform, here:

Questionnaire de Proust

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