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Episode 568
The Doctor's Farmacy

How A Near-Death Experience Led To Reimagining Our Plastic & Energy Consumption

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

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Near-death experiences aren’t that uncommon for the world’s most technical mountaineers. 

Summiting Mt. Everest is sure to leave anyone feeling truly awe-inspired. Completing the climb and getting home safely after nearly dying creates a whole different level of reflection.

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I talk to Hakan Bulgurlu about turning his near-death experience into a force for positive change in his personal life, the climate crisis, business leadership, and more. 

Hakan and I dive into this episode with an account of his harrowing journey to summit Everest. He says it made him truly understand that family, friends, and his legacy are what matter most. Not only did Hakan become more conscious of how present he was with his children, but he also reimagined how to be more conscious in how he does business. That awakening has led him to be an incredible environmental steward and example for others in doing business sustainably. 

Two of Hakan’s most impactful initiatives are addressing the issue of microplastics in oceans and improving the energy efficiency of refrigerators. We talk about the importance of building the climate cost into goods to account for their true cost to humans and the environment. 

Many conversations around climate change can feel hopeless, but my discussion with Hakan is just the opposite. It’s uplifting to learn what kinds of positive interventions are already helping and what the future holds. 

I know you’ll find this episode as inspiring as I did.

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I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

Here are more details from our interview (audio version / Apple Subscriber version):

  1. How Hakan’s preparation for climbing Mt. Everest led to business solutions to the climate crisis
    (6:26)
  2. Hakan’s aha moment that shifted his approach to business
    (11:25)
  3. A profitable business solution to the issue of microplatics in the oceans
    (13:50)
  4. The two types of CEOs
    (20:09)
  5. Improving the energy efficiency of refridgerators
    (20:50)
  6. Hakan’s early influential life experiences
    (26:27)
  7. Hakan’s Mt. Everest climb, his near death experiences, and how it affected him
    (29:20)
  8. Building in the price of climate issues into market cost
    (41:22)
  9. Humans’ relationship to nature
    (48:49)
  10. Responding to our depression about the state of the climate
    (50:55)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Hakan Bulgurlu

At a young age, Hakan Bulgurlu learned the craft of trade at the historic Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. He completed his BA in economics and mechanical engineering at Texas University, followed by an MBA at Northwestern University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. 

Hakan is a global business leader and a climate activist. As the CEO of Arçelik, a home appliances manufacturer that operates in 150 countries, he is a thought leader on sustainable and purpose-driven business. In a bid to raise awareness of the climate crisis, Hakan climbed Everest in 2019. He wrote A Mountain to Climb; a retelling of his journey to Everest, accompanied by his research into the possible solutions to the climate crisis.

Get your copy of Hakan’s book, A Mountain to Climb: The Climate Crisis: A Summit Beyond Everest, here.

Transcript

Introduction:

Coming up on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I remember this intense pain in my belly, almost like I’ve gone to the bathroom on myself, that weird feeling, but then suddenly, I could hear people talking from 100 meters away. I was looking. I felt like I had the vision of a hawk and this insane amount of strength just came to me.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman. That’s farmacy with an F, a place for conversations that matter. If you ever wondered what you can do about dealing with the crisis of climate change, this is going to be an interesting podcast for you because we have a very unusual guest today who is a CEO of a very large company that’s creating solutions in the space where many solutions have not existed and gives an opportunity to talk about why it’s so important to change how we do business in order to solve the climate crisis.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Our guest today is a good friend of mine, Hakan Bulgurlu, who’s from Turkey, who is of both Turkish and Norwegian origin. He learned the trade a business at the grand bizarre in Istanbul, which is quite a place to learn business, and we’re going to hear that story. He also has become quite a leader in the field of business innovations that drive solutions for climate change as opposed to businesses that drive climate change, which is mostly what we see in the world today.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

He’s a global business leader. He’s a CEO of a company called Arçelik, which is a home appliances manufacturer that operates in 150 countries. He’s a thought leader on sustainable and purpose-driven businesses. In order to raise awareness for climate change, because I don’t think people really listen to people unless they’ve done something crazy, he climbed Mount Everest in 2019 after climbing a number of other mountains around the world, and he’s written a book about it called A Mountain to Climb, which is a fabulous book, an inspiring story, that talks about his vision of how we can begin to solve the climate crisis and about his journey to Mount Everest. So welcome to the podcast, Hakan.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Thank you, Mark. It’s such an honor to be here. It’s been a long journey for me writing the book, Everest. Again, as you said, people often ask me why I climbed, and quite literally, it was I had difficulty getting people to listen to me when I was talking about the climate and the crisis that earth is in. I thought, “What could I do that would get people’s attention?” and literally, Everest did happen. When I spoke, people would look at their phones every five minutes or so, start yawning. When I start talking about Everest, everything stops, everyone’s fully focused, but yeah, the whole mission was to raise awareness and then talk about the solutions as you phrased it.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I love the introduction phase. You said as a business or a business leader, we were trying to create solutions to the problem as opposed to feeding the problem. I think that really describes everything in one sentence.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I think there’s a lot of conversation. We’re going to get into the Mount Everest story in a minute and your grand bizarre origins as a business leader.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I thought you might forget that one, but, okay, great.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

To me, it’s so striking what you’re doing because there are narratives that are emerging in business around being a positive impact on creating climate solutions, but very few companies are actually doing the work, and that is because a lot of the motives that drive businesses are shareholder value and profit, and you found a way within that framework to actually drive the right types of solutions. So what led you to reimagine what you were doing or what led you to first realize that this was something that you as a business leader and CEO could actually impact?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. Well, I realized early on that it actually makes good business sense as well. If you think of appliances and you have 14 brands, they’re pretty much the same. It’s a commoditizing industry. You go into a shop, there’s endless choice, it’s just price differences, option differences, but if you were presented with one that is completely sustainable, it’s coming from a carbon neutral company that’s recycling its appliances, that has the most energy-efficient appliances, naturally, consumers are tending to choose those now because there is this great anxiety out there.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

For me, the big realization came actually through the preparation for the expedition to Everest because it was eight months of intense planning, learning, obviously, physical, mental preparation, but in that process, we also were quite prolific with the social media, letting people know every day what is happening to the planet and what they can do.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

The initial intent there was to draw attention to the melting glaciers. Nobody talks about the glaciers. Well, some people do, but not many know about what’s happening. If you think of this whole geography from China, Pakistan, the whole of the ASEAN region, essentially, India, Bangladesh, they depend on glacial water coming from Himachal Pradesh, the Himalayas, and 50% of those glaciers are gone.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

50%.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

50% are gone. This is science.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Melted in the last decades?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

This is in the past 50, 60 years.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Wow.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

The acceleration, of course, is in the past 10 years. We’ve had seven of the warmest years in the past 100 years or ever actually recorded has been in the past 10 years. What’s happening is, you see, when you look at the Syrian problem, for example, five million refugees, you got one million in Europe. Governments changed in Europe because there was one million refugees. I mean, Hungary got 10 or something and they ended up with Orbán, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

So you look at Turkey with four million refugees. It’s real, and that was caused by water. Water simply ran out and people in the countryside moved to the cities and that usually causes war.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

War?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

War, yeah. If you look at the what’s going to happen in the whole basin where these people depend on Himalayan glacial melt, you’re talking about two billion people moving onto other people’s land.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Not a million, two billion.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Not a billion, two billion, two billion, and they depended on-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

That’s not going to go well.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

It’s not going to go well. Everyone thinks it’s the monsoon. The monsoon comes, it runs off. It’s actually the glacial water they depend on. Scientists say, this varies, that the rest of the ice will disappear in the next 30, 50 years. I want to talk about solutions as well and the solution to that, of course is, stopping putting carbon in the atmosphere, decarbonizing, because that’s what’s causing the melt.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Now, I got here because that was part of the reason I climbed Everest, but in that preparation phase, I’m, with the videos I was producing, trying to help people along the way of what they can do differently every day to impact. There are so many things. They’re very simple, but people started following what I was doing because they were curious, “Why is this guy doing this? He’s got three young children. He’s CEO of one of the biggest companies globally in the appliance industry. It looks like a great job, although it’s quite problematic and difficult.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Why would you put yourself at risk?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

“Why would you put yourself at risk? It doesn’t make any sense.” So people got curious and started following, and they started really eating up the sustainability I was actually putting out there, the methodology behind it, and I saw that, and then through-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

The methodology behind what your company was doing to solve the problem.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Well, that, but also what they could do every day, eat less meat, turn the lights off, very simple, electrify everything. There’s so many solutions that we in our lives can adapt and implement, which will have an impact at scale. What happened was, unexpectedly, when I came back from Everest is, inadvertently would really strengthen the purpose of the company, what happened is everybody, through the risk taking I had done and maybe through the awareness of the preparation process, everybody started believing that this was really what we need to do.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Our vision statement, our mission, everything reflects that. So an engineer in every corner of the company started thinking, “How can I do what I’m doing more sustainably?” Use less plastic or use more recycled plastic, conserve water, energy. What technology can I work on that will reduce the consumption of energy, hence, reduce the carbon emissions.” It snowballed, and the company suddenly became a purposeful business. I mean, of course, this is a journey. When I say suddenly, I mean, I realized it at that moment, and it’s a team effort. I’m very, very proud.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

What was your aha moment that got you to go, “Oh, I need to change what we’re doing as a company”?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

The aha moment was when I took my children … I’m a sailor. I love sailing, and I’ve lived in Hong Kong for many years, sailed around Asia quite a lot, but in Thailand, there was this particular Maya Beach. Everybody knows about it because of the movie. I love that beach. I’d stopped by. I took my children to share-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Was that from the movie of Leonardo DiCaprio The Beach?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yes, it is, it is, it is. Do you know they had to shut it down for a year or two years or something. Then COVID came along, so it’s been stage shut for four years. So hopefully now it looks better, but I took my children there over a Christmas vacation, and it was shocking. I had prepped the children saying, “We’re going to find treasure in a cave. It’s really special. This is one of my most beautiful places.” We swam ashore and I was knee deep in plastic.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Knee deep in plastic.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Knee deep in plastic. I was carrying my children. They were small. My daughter looked up at me and said, “Why?” and I couldn’t answer. I just couldn’t answer, “Why? For what?” I decided that that wasn’t going to happen again. When I’m nice and mature, a little bit older, but young because I follow what you preach, I want to be able to look my children in the eye and say, “I did everything possible. Everything possible I could do I did,” and that includes with the business platform. Yeah. So that was the aha moment, the real aha moment.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Until that moment, I really thought that it would take a huge amount of capital and resources to transform the business, but it’s not the case. There are so many low hanging fruit, and I’ll give you an example. I think it’s interesting because there’s so many business leaders out there who think that it takes a massive amount of money and effort to do this, but an engineer came up with a solution and something that I’m very proud of now because we started using instead of engineering plastics to harden the tubs of the washing machines, he figured out we could use discarded pet water bottles, and we’ve used tens of millions of them, hundreds of millions of water bottles in our washing machine drums.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Plastic water bottles?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Plastic water bottles that are discarded, that are floating around the sea. So we collect them, we buy them, we have them turn into pellets, and we use them in the drums. The end result was that actually the material cost was less than what it would’ve been, and the strength was good enough, which meant that we were making money by saving money.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

That’s profitable.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Profitable, yeah, and there’s so many things that are profitable, so many simple things people don’t think about like calibrating all the equipment on production lines. The amount of energy you save is incredible. The list is so long. I won’t go into too many details.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

No, it’s fascinating because most businesses, I think, have the view that, “If we start to invest in this way, it’s going to cost us money,” and what’s really not built into the price of goods is the true cost of the goods and its impact to the environment, to climate, to human health. One of the things you’ve done, and I really want to highlight this is you’ve figured out a way to deal with one of the big problems with washing machines, which is microplastics getting in our water supply, polluting the oceans. I mean, pretty much every fish you eat is full of microplastics, and that affects our human health.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I always joke that if we were food, if humans were food, we would not be safe to eat because of how polluted we are. You’ve figured out a way to solve that. Can you talk a little bit about the microplastics issue and how it came to your attention and why you care about it and what you’ve done to fix it?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Well, I’ve always cared about the oceans. I mean, that became pretty clear with what we were speaking about-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

The beach.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

… at the beach. The idea was actually hatched here in Kaplankaya where we are today. Essentially-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

By the way, everybody listening, you might hear birds in the background. We’re on the coast of Turkey overlooking the ocean, and there’s a bird nest right outside where we’re doing the podcast. So you might hear the birds, but that’s okay.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. I call them Mark’s babies.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

They’re little baby birds. They’re screaming all day, “Feed me, feed me.”

Hakan Bulgurlu:

What’s happening is these companies are trying to do something about it, but they’re the big offenders. It’s synthetic yarn producers. So basically, most of what we wear today is made from synthetic yarn, which is made from petrol, and that synthetic yarn, when it’s converted into fast fashion, which is designed for you to discard every couple of months, it just falls apart. Every time you wash it, it disintegrates a bit more. It’s scary, but if you wash a jumper that’s made of synthetic yarn, just one jumper, you’re dropping millions of pieces and literally measurable in grams of microfibers that are so small, there’s no municipality that can filter that. That all goes into the waterways and it goes into the oceans, and it’s been doing this as long as we’ve been producing synthetic yarn industrially, which is-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Polyester.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

… polyester, plastic. Again, we get back to plastic.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

What was that movie, The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman was like, “The future is plastic,” right?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. Exactly. It was on the cover of House magazine or something, I remember. What that means is we don’t know the amount of plastic in the oceans. We’ve worked with a lot of researchers in universities, fish taken from the Arctic, it doesn’t matter where you take the samples from, they’re contaminated with microfibers.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

The terrible detail behind that is these plastic molecules actually attract chemicals. There’s more than 80,000 man-made chemicals that are floating around as well. Somehow these molecules bind to those chemicals. They get ingested by the fish, and they go into the flesh of the fish, and then we eat this. It’s a disaster, essentially, and it’s a health crisis that’s happening.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Is the biggest source of this basically our clothes?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

It’s our clothes, yeah, it’s our clothes. I mean, there are so many sources, but clothes are a very big source of it. This is not a problem of the appliance industry, right? The washing machine has no blame in this, but we sat down and we said, “How can we solve this problem? We know it’s not our problem. Can we create a machine that can filter this out?” We came up with a filter, many patents after two years of research that filters out more than 95% of the filters, and then the filter itself is recyclable. It’s a closed box because if you go and wash it and then put it back, it doesn’t work. It all goes, right?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

So the system’s there. Then we open source the technology and we challenge all our competitors to use it. I’m very happy to say that France is regulated now. California is regulated. Soon, every washing machine you buy will have to be fitted with one of these filters. Now, initially, of course, people reacted in the company saying, “Wait a minute. This is our IP we’ve worked really hard to develop. Why don’t we make money from this?”

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I felt that and, actually, the whole leadership team felt that if we differentiate ourselves as a company that’s truly doing this for the good of the environment and we’re sharing the technology not because we think we can’t make a commercial advantage out of it, but because we think it should be universal everywhere, that we will get more credit for this, and we have, and now this washing machine-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

That’s a very, very enlightened view because I don’t think most CEOs would go, “Let’s give away our intellectual property, which we could make millions or billions of dollars on,” but it’s the right thing to do.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

It’s the right thing to do. You need to speed this up and we need to do everything we can. It’s all out. Companies that don’t transform won’t be around, Mark. It’s not like, “Let me see if I can do it in five years, 10 years.” Companies that don’t transform now in this way are simply just not going to be around because consumers are going to vote with their money, right? People are scared, they’re anxious, and as the symptoms get worse, the climate gets warmer, the seas get dirtier, we get sicker, people’s reactions will intensify.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

So how do you engage with other CEOs? Do they listen to you? Do they think you’re kind of a nut job and you’re going to lose all your shareholder value and stock price are going to crash?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. I had a lot of that. I mean, I was called an industrial anarchist.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Ah. Oh, God, I love that.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

That’s a good one. Another one is, of course, I’m always pushing for regulation everywhere because government regulation is absolutely necessary to solve this problem, and also, it doesn’t come intuitively to businesses or business leaders. When there’s regulation, they always put their hands up and say, “No, no, no, please, no.” I did not. I was not very welcomed, but now, I think the world has changed.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

At Glasgow, that was one of the biggest positive messages I can give you. At COP26, there was a big, positive moment for me at Glasgow because for the first time, I saw businesses were ready to do something about it, and it’s simple because they smell profit, right? They saw that if you differentiate yourself and you change quickly, you’re going to get an advantage.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

So CEOs are very excited now. The tune has changed. I’m part of the CEO lines at World Economic Forum. I see there’s two types of CEOs. One is the one who gets the briefing from their sustainability team and just reads what they’re given, and you can immediately tell them apart. They’re basically the breed that says, “This is not my problem. I’m going to retire in five years anyway, and the next guy can deal with it,” but that group will increasingly have a tough time.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Then there’s a group which says, “This is going to become a business advantage,” and they really start getting into it. I’m hopeful. I see businesses transforming everywhere. It just has to happen faster.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. That’s so exciting. Well, I want to loop back because you clearly have made some very impressive changes in your operations that drive climate solutions that we can all take advantage of, whether it’s the microplastic filters or recycle plastics as part of the construction of washing machines or the improvement in energy efficiency. So you’re reducing both the energy inputs to actually create the appliances, and you’re also improving the post-purchase energy use, and you’re also reducing microplastic, and you’re also recycling the machines after. So you when you throw away your washing machine or your refrigerator or your stove, it doesn’t just go in a dump, right?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Well, unfortunately, it does in most of the world, and this is what we found. So one of the things we have to do very quickly is energy efficiency.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I’ll interrupt for a sec, but I remember I had a fridge in my house. It was an old fridge. It was broken. I had to throw it out. I had to take it to the dump and I’m like, “I don’t want to take it to the dump, but I don’t where to put it.”

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. It’s a tragedy because there’s so many areas of waste around that. It’s just crazy, but what we did is, well, first thing we need to do is focus on energy efficiency. That means the fridge you buy today consumes less than half the energy of a fridge or maybe even 80% less energy than a fridge you bought 10 years ago. Now, you should use a fridge for more than 10 years. I agree with that, right? It should be durable. It should be repairable, but at the moment, the biggest urgency is to change it because the energy you’re consuming is causing carbon emissions, right? Depending on where in the world, really bad, a lot of emissions.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

So first mission is to do that, but when we started doing that, starting campaigns, giving discounts to customers to buy higher energy efficient appliances, we couldn’t find a place to recycle the old ones. So we had to build one ourselves. We built this mad max like facility, 50 meters high, that just basically chews up appliances. We’re brand agnostic. I think we’ve recycled more than a million and a half today, and what that does is because you use the recycled materials-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Really? So you don’t just take your own appliances back, you’ll take anybody’s.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

No. We’ll take anybody’s.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

General Electric or Frigerator or Frigidaire or anything.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Any, anyone, anyone, and then we will use some of that recycled material ourself, sell it or move it on to other industries, the rest, but there’s another saving there because by not using virgin materials, you’re actually saving the emissions caused by the energy used when that material’s being produced.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Again, the more energy efficient appliance in the consumer’s home is consuming less, so causing less emissions. I mean, what people need to do really is to really check the energy rating on the appliances they’re buying. This is critical.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

It’s on the appliance, right?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

It’s on the appliance. It’s not difficult, and it’s regulated everywhere. Everybody’s looking for rocket science. We’re looking for hydrogen. We’re looking for how are we going to solve this crazy problem.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Carbon capture technologies.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah, and spending billions and billions of dollars. Actually, all the technologies we need or which will have the biggest impact are here. The International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, a good friend, who leads it, calls it the first fuel. There are four groups of products, lighting, cooling and heating, cooling, and electric motors that consume 40% of all power. If you actually used all of our energy efficiency technologies available today in those four segments, you would solve basically the problem of shutting down 4,500, I think, coal-fired power plants, 4,500 around the world, and these technologies exist today. So energy efficiency has to be the first solution in this fight.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

It’s so inspiring. I think I’m going to jump back a little bit about how we solve this problem at scale and some of the challenges in the business world, but I want to loop back to your beginnings and how you got to be you because there’s not too many of you that I’ve met who haggled their way to business in the grand bizarre, climbed Mount Everest, and reimagined the way of doing business in ways that could have been disastrous for your publicly traded company, but you took that risk, and you took that risk, you took the risk of climbing Mount Everest. So what made you? Was it dealing with the-

Hakan Bulgurlu:

What was the magic sauce? I don’t know. I mean, constantly, first of all, I don’t think that highly of myself, but thank you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

That’s okay. I do.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I try. I definitely try, but yeah, very early exposure maybe to nature, I mean, I remember days when I was five or six, I’d go out with fishermen at 4:00 in the morning, go fish, and then they would have me sell their catch in the market because cute kids speaks languages, and I take fish home. That’s the pay. My parents, my grandparents would always be very proud of me. They instilled good self-confidence, I think, but the bizarre is a different story. The bizarre, it’s an incredible place. I mean, you’ve been. There’s 20,000 stores. It’s the world’s first shopping mall. It’s probably the world’s first, even though the Dutch in Amsterdam claim responsibility for that, the first stock exchange because they were trading gold there-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Oh, really?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

… forever, for hundreds and hundreds of years, thousand years at least, and the spice market. It’s where all the spice moves from the orient. So it’s really the hub of trading. There’s a system where you, apprentice system, where you start at the door, you’re not allowed to do anything, then you move in, then you can weigh the gold, then you can actually quote prices. You have to earn your way up. I just-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Oh, so you weren’t selling spices, you weren’t selling gold.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I was selling gold. I was working for a jeweler, and I learned the real trade.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Okay. It wasn’t just a little turmeric and frankincense.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah, yeah, no, it was gold chains and diamonds and that’s simple stuff, actually, but nice. What I found is that if the customer trusts you, meaning if you build trust with the person you’re dealing with, then they will actually prefer to buy from you even if you’re a little bit more expensive than the guy next door. Realizing that really is a big moment in my life because I’ve treated everything in that way, that trust is not something you can break with a customer.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Any business, whether you’re selling a service or a product, it’s a relationship built on trust, and I tried to apply that on all the businesses, but yeah, I worked in the bizarre. I remember my parents didn’t want me to work there anymore because I was making so much more than my allowance that they didn’t know what-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Than your father?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

They didn’t know how to control me anymore. I was 13, I think, 13, 14.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Amazing. 13 years old, that’s incredible. Let’s move forward to the challenges of mountain climbing because what you’ve done is something that a lot of people maybe think about but would never do. I’ve certainly thought, “It would be nice to be on the top of Mount Everest,” but I don’t know if I’m actually equipped to make that climb because it’s …

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I have no doubt that you could do anything if you put your mind to it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I probably could, but it’s one of the most treacherous mountains-

Hakan Bulgurlu:

It is.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

… in the world. What were the mental hurdles you had to overcome in order to think you could do it? Then what were the challenges you faced in actually doing it and getting to the summit?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. Well, I wrote the book around that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

A Mountain to Climb. Everybody should check it out, A Mountain to Climb: The Climate Crisis, A Summit Beyond Everest.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. The reason I actually wrote that book because what happened on Everest was life-changing for many reasons. I thought that, first of all, it’s an interesting read, and if I wove in everything that’s happening with the environment, overfishing, climate, that it would actually be something that people could read at a leisurely pace, but learn a lot and also gain a bit of hope because there’s a lot of solutions to the problems that we have. The first hurdles I had to get by was getting permission from my wife, of course.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. “You’re going to leave me a widow? What are you talking about?”

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. I mean, I won’t say it was easy, but once she saw how determined I was, and I framed it in a certain way. I first went to another mountain to really just see if I could do it. I trained very intensively and everything worked out.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Kilmanjaro, Aconcagua in South America.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yes. I mean, mainly Aconcagua was the big trial, and that was very difficult because I was arrogant. I was trained. I thought I could just-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Walk up.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

… skip the couple of days. Well, I did walk up, but I thought I could walk up faster than anybody else and just arrived late because it was Christmas and I didn’t want to leave the family. So what I should have done in four days I did in five days, I did in two base camp and, of course, I got altitude sickness, and that was my first lesson.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Then the next one was bad weather coming down the mountain. We ran down, but the porters carrying our stuff back down, they got stuck overnight on the mountain, and they had to use our stuff to actually save themselves to survive. Those were all little close, and they gave me a taste of what it was like.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

So for me, the problem was arrogance and self-confidence because I’d done everything that could be done. I hired the best organizer, who had a perfect track record, and I trust him with my life anywhere, Lucas Furtamba. Then I did all the preparation I need to do, the diet. I had all the help. I talked to mountaineers. I even, what made me most nervous was something called-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

You weren’t a mountain climber. This wasn’t something-

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I’m not a mountain climber. I always made fun of people who climbed up mountains to walk back down. I mean, I understand climbing up a mountain to ski down, but I don’t get walking up to walk down, but then once I decided that, “Okay. What’s going to be this shocking thing that I do that actually grabs attention for this cause?” and I decided, then, of course, I started learning about it. Now, I have a huge amount of respect for mountain climbers. Don’t get me wrong.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I was as prepared as one can be, essentially. So I had this overconfidence that when I got there, I would go up and come down easily. Oh, boy, is that not true. You need a lot of luck. Obviously, you need skill and experience, but you need luck. You need to mentally be prepared because it’s extremely, extremely difficult. The dangers are not subjective. They’re objective dangers. So meaning, you have no control over them.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

The weather?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

The weather, a rock may fall on you. I mean, at one instance, a gas canister fell from a higher camp and literally passed one meter in front of me. If that even hit your arm, you’re basically not coming back. I didn’t realize many things. I had this impression that as we had two Sherpas each, very strong men, we probably had the best Sherpas on the mountain, the best organization on the mountain, but it was a very unfortunate day. Many people died. 11 climbers-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

So when you were there?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

That morning is the famous morning that was on the cover of the New York Times with the lineup on the south side from Nepal. I was climbing the north side from Tibet. So there were less people, but it’s more technical, colder. There were still a lot of people and 11 climbers died, unfortunately, on that day.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

It changes you because you have to deal with people that are dying. You’re on a single rope. You have to actually unclip and step over them and clip back in. I had many, many difficult moments, and near death moments as well. I don’t know. Should I describe them or-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yes, please, please. I mean, the image you just said, I’m still digesting, which is in order to climb up the mountain, you had to unhook from the rope, walk over a dead person, and hook back in, and keep going.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yes, essentially, walking down, especially. It’s worse. It’s not a dead person, but a person that’s dying and that’s begging you for help, that’s begging you for water, for oxygen.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

You can’t stop.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

You can’t stop. This is a difficult truth that most mountain climbers won’t talk about, but essentially, you’re responsible for your own life on the mountain, and nobody’s going to help you, and you certainly shouldn’t help somebody else because that’s going to cost you your life. This becomes pretty clear to you when you’re climbing. It’s not selfishness, self-preservation. It’s just fact.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

For us, what went wrong is basically during the climb, it took much longer than expected because of the bottlenecks. When we got to the top, we were very late. So coming back down when the weather changed and we had severe gusts of wind, which actually blew off a lot of the oxygen stored on the way down, and a lot of the Sherpas left, basically. So we were left to go down on our own without any guidance.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

On the way up, you have something called a jumar, which gives you a point of reference. One the way down, you don’t have a jumar. So if you fall, essentially, and you’re immobilized, you’re going to stay there. I never understood the media report-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

So you’re not hooked into a rope on the way down?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

You are hooked in a rope, but you have to change ropes all the time, and if you fall, the rope doesn’t arrest your fall. You just fall for the length of that rope until the next point. Yeah. I mean, I never understood media reports that say, “Oh, this guy fell off the ledge at 8,300 meters on the Mushroom Rock at Everest, and there’s a search going on for him.” Nobody’s searching for anybody. If somebody falls there, they’re not coming back. It’s that simple, and everybody knows that. For some reason, for weeks you hear that he’s been searched for, and this and that.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Coming back on the third step, I’d given my sunglasses to a friend who had an issue with his and I was wearing goggles. They fogged up. My regulator froze, and I lost my footing, and I was holding onto the rope. It’s about a 35-40 meter cliff, and holding onto it. Then of course, huge exposure below that as well. So you’re looking from … Well, this is at the top of the world, right? Yeah. It’s at 8,700 meters or something like that, and I lost my grip.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

As I’m slipping with the gloves, I took out the regulator. Of course, without oxygen, you don’t have much time anyway. Pins and needles in your brain start almost instantly, and I started slipping down. I remember this intense pain in my belly, in my gut, and almost like I’ve gone to the bathroom on myself, that weird feeling, but then suddenly I could hear people talking from 100 meters away. I felt like I had the vision of a hawk and this insane amount of strength just came to me, and I pulled myself together and I managed to actually come down, get a grip, and then one of our guides from further below saw, came, changed my regulator, got a new tank and basically saved my life.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Later, my friend Andrew Huberman, who I know you know as well, mentioned that we have a nerve once fired. This is the moment that saves a child from under a car by lifting it as a mother. When that fires, you also get neuroplasticity again and you can rewire your character. I think all of those near death experiences changed me completely.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

How did it change you?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Well, it made me much more focused on this singular purpose of really using every platform and means I have to fight what’s happening to the world. We have children who are going to have children, and we need to leave them a better world than we found. We’re not going to end up leaving them a better world, unfortunately, but at least we need to leave them a world that they can live in.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I started focusing much more on the people that I care about, my children, especially. In the past, they would come, I mean, I’m a busy CEO, they’d come and say, “Dad, come, let’s play,” and I’d say, “Oh, let me finish the email. Let me finish my coffee. I’m busy now.” Now, I don’t do that. I just drop everything and I say, “Yes, time’s yours.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. Wow.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

It’s been three years now, right? It’s quite a while. So I have to remind myself because the world changes us, but I do believe that my brain got rewired on that mountain, and we’ve progressed a lot. Look at the company.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

What way that you would get rewired in your brain?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Well, I think my character changed in that I started really understanding and behaving … Easiest way to describe it, I think, I went up a boy and came down a man. I matured. I understand what’s important and what’s important is family and close friends and what matters are legacy, right? As I told you, I want to be able to look my daughter in the eyes when I’m 62 and say, “Hey, I did everything I can.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. When you now look at the way you run your business, the way you relate to your mission as a CEO, how did that change?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Well, accelerated this transformation. We’ve now become carbon neutral across our global manufacturing operations, which isn’t easy. We manufacture in South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh. These are places where there’s no regulation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

They don’t often care about that.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

They don’t care about it at all. I mean, they care about other things. They have a long way to go until they’re wealthy enough to care about that. So in places like that, we’re driving change, and it makes good business sense. We’re growing very fast, so it’s actually paying off.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Every study I see, the latest BCG study I saw indicates that 85% of consumers are now choosing, actively choosing products and services from companies that have been-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

80%?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah, 85%, and it’s still low, but it’s important. 10% are willing to pay more, and that dynamic is going to continue shifting and regulation is going to come quite aggressively. So it’s basically a winning strategy. I think everybody sees it now. We just had a head start. Staying ahead is going to be very difficult, by the way, but it’s=

Dr. Mark Hyman:

It’s interesting what you say. So you’re taking the lead on this and you’ve done the right thing and it’s been profitable for you and the company, but I think many, many business leaders, I think, imagine that it’s hard to make those choices and they don’t see the return, and that the prices that are reflected in the marketplace aren’t fair because if you do the right thing, it costs more. The other guy is actually creating all these downstream consequences that we call externalities. They’re not actually externalities. They’re problems that are built into the way we do things. How do we get regulation?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

As I see, I imagine this is not a friendly subject for you to talk about, legislation or regulation globally, to actually build into the price of the goods and services that we have, the true cost of the goods and services in terms of their full spectrum and their life cycle analysis of all the things that are impacted by them because just in terms of the food space, that’s where I am, the Rockefeller Foundation created a report called the true cost of food and found that it was basically three times the price you pay at the checkout counter in terms of its impact on climate, on health, on the economy, on social justice, on mental health, on learning, on productivity.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I mean, the consequences of doing things the way we do them are so broad, but they’re not built into the price we pay at the checkout counter. How do we create an equalization of the marketplace where you’re not out there in the lead and then going to get penalized because you’re doing the right thing, but it’s actually not good for the company’s bottom line?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

First of all, spot on. I mean, this is the problem, right? We need to put the price of carbon emissions into the products and services that we use. It’s full stop. I was on the-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Not just carbon, but everything, right?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah, everything.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Pollution, segregation, health.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Exactly. Everything, but carbon, we can actually pinpoint now. That’s why I say carbon.. it’s low hanging fruit. Again, I was on the world bank high commission for carbon pricing years ago and I saw that’s another accelerator in my own development, by the way, when I started seeing unadultered data from scientists like the IPCC report. The only way forward is basically putting a price on carbon and that price gets absorbed by the goods and services.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Europe is pretty good at regulating. By the way, I’m very much for regulation. I think it’s the quickest solution. Global regulation is difficult, but Europe has done a great job. Europe really now has mandatory carbon offsets for businesses. Forcefully, they’re going to implement a carbon tax, a carbon border tax. So if you’re importing from countries which actually don’t mitigate the carbon, you will have to pay a tax.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Like China?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Like China, but this is a great way to do it. The only problem is Europe is tiny. Europe is 8% of emissions. So Europe can only be a great example. Businesses need to do this. It’s always the case. Businesses need to lead and then governments will follow. I highlighted Europe because the green deal, as they say, I call it a good deal. It really is a good deal, but will the world follow quickly? I have my doubt. So as businesses rather than wait, you need to push the envelope yourself.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Also, look at it this way. As a business today, we’re sustainable. We’re doing well, we’re making money, we’re growing, but the risk to our future is that I will have to take on the cost of those carbon emissions, and those carbon emissions everyone talks about, I’ll get a bit technical now, scope one and two emissions. No one talks about scope three emissions, which is-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. Explain that.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Scope three emissions is what consumers, when they’re using your product, actually emit carbon, and that’s a huge percentage of the problem is actually that in the world. You need to make commitments as businesses to actually cut those today because the cost of that in the future, when there is regulation is going to be so high, you won’t be able to manage your business.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Today, it costs you carbon credit, maybe 80 in Europe, $80-$90, let’s say. There’s no saying that won’t be $2,000 in five years, 10 years or maybe even $10,000. Nobody knows or maybe 200, but the important thing to factor is that you need to take measures now to, A, cut the carbon emissions so that you don’t have that cost and, B, create credits yourself by doing things like recycling and using recycled materials and store it on your balance sheet so you’re actually hedging the future of the business.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah, but carbon offsets are problematic in a sense because, I mean, it’s like, “Well, I can be an oil company that’s creating a lot more fossil fuel problems and natural gas company producing tons of methane from fracking that’s three times the amount of methane that cows produce around the world, and I can then buy a carbon credit to offset the negative impact that I’m making.” There’s something about it that seems a little bit disingenuous. How do you think about that?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I think the first goal has to be cutting the carbon emissions everywhere you possibly can. By next year, Arçelik will have 50 megawatts of solar power on all its roofs. I mean, we’re not a power company. That’s power company scale, 50 megawatts power. Why? Because we want to cut the emissions at the source. So we will use clean power. We’ll make the power ourselves and-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Which will end up saving you money?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yes, it does. Payback is quite quick. I have to say the business sense also helps, but you need to first cut all emissions. Then I agree that buying carbon credits is a very shady market at the moment, but it’s cleaning up. Article six at COP26, again, was one of the big achievements where double counting … The infrastructure is coming in to where actually capital will flow to places like rainforest, like mangrove forest, patches of ocean to preserve kelp, coral. That kind of thing will start happening because of the capital flowing.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

In the book, I interview many people, many scientist, who are fighting really hard to preserve what we have, but somehow, capital is not flowing to them correctly. I think the system coming into place now, maybe not today, but in five, 10 years, will be an efficient way of rechanneling capital.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Meaning that by actually pricing in carbon into the marketplace, it will reshuffle the deck and allow-

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yes. It will be mandatory carbon markets.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

… companies to do the right thing and incentivize the right choices, and then same thing in healthcare. We know that the solutions for most chronic disease, which is better food and yet we have a food system that-

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Is broken.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

… is broken and is driving chronic disease that we don’t deal with through proper incentives, right? We know, for example, the cure for diabetes is eating differently, and yet we don’t pay for food as part of healthcare, right? The joke Wendell Berry says, “We have a healthcare system that pays no attention to food and a food system that pays no attention to health,” and then similar is happening in the business world.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

So what was it like being in Mount Everest and seeing the glaciers melt? I just came back from Antarctica and I haven’t talked about it a lot, but it was really striking to see the impact when we were there. We had days there that were over-

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I saw a picture of you where it’d kind of been too cold.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

No, no. It was 50 degrees above normal temperatures there.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Crazy. Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

There was a calving event of a glacier that was reported in the New York Times. It was so massive, and we witnessed it. It was really disturbing to see in realtime the impacts of climate and what’s happening and to see the impacts on the populations of mammals there. It shook me up a little bit. How did that impact you and change what you think about?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Well, on Everest, I mean, well, first of all, you don’t see the glaciers, right? Then you see the line of where they used to be on the rock and then you see where they are today, and it’s like a skyscraper, the difference, and that’s not coming back. Once you realize that, you start worrying about what can we save, really. We’ve lost about 68% since 1970s of all wildlife on earth, the biomass. We need to be fighting for what we can preserve.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

When I was on the way down from the summit and this gust happened, I remember a moment when I was looking out and you can see the curvature of the earth and you can literally see the blue of space. It’s a different blue. I felt so stupid. I was like, “Who am I to think I can challenge nature? What is this, I mean, or us humans? We’re unimportant, less important than a spec of dust. Nature will heal itself. It will go on its own cycle, but we will not.”

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I mean, you know this better than I do, but even yeast, take the most simple organism, a two-celled creature, its instinct is to adapt to survive, right? I mean, they change, they adapt to the temperature, the atmosphere, the food source, whatever, very quickly because they want to survive. What’s wrong with us humans that we’re facing this catastrophe and we’re not reacting to it? It’s the strangest thing, and we’re supposed to be the most complex, intelligent beings anywhere, if you ask some people.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

So this is a bit that I didn’t understand. On Everest, that really struck me, that how small and insignificant I was, and as a species we were, and how dare we think that we can challenge nature and win. That struck me.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. We haven’t really come into right relationship with nature. We’ve divorced ourselves and disconnected ourselves in ways that make us think we’re invincible. I remember when I was in college, I was at a talk from this guy named John Trudell, who was the head of the American Indian Movement at the time, and all of us young, idealistic college students were like, “Well, what about the earth? The earth is getting damaged.” This was back in the ’70s when it was not even bad. I don’t even think they had a word for climate change yet, and we were just talking about pollution.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

He’s like, “Look,” he says, “the earth will be fine. It’s humans we have to worry about.” I think we’re at that existential moment where we might not survive as a species, and yet the ingenuity and creativity gives me a lot of hope. So are you hopeful? Are you-

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I’m hopeful. I’m very hopeful, right? That’s-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Tell me why and tell us all why because I think a lot of people have climate depression.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. I’ll you why. I’ll tell you why. Yeah. Well, climate depression is a real thing. I’ve been meeting a lot of young climate activists, and I understand why now because it’s a problem we’ve created, let’s say middle-aged men and women, but mostly men. Unfortunately, that’s the way the world works, and that’s how business and governments have been run. You have these young people whose future is being destroyed by this, but they’re not part of the conversation. They’re not at the table. They’re labeled as climate activists, and sometimes people listen to them, but they’re not part of the solution, and they’re angry, and I understand why.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I’m hopeful because, A, I see business taking interest as a way to differentiate and create profit, and in our capitalist system, that’s the single biggest driver of change. I also know that if businesses go, governments follow. So that really brings a lot of hope, to me at least, because I now see action. In the past, everybody would talk, everybody would put on paper what they need to, but delay action. Now, I actually really see action almost everywhere.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I mean, besides you, what companies are making strides to actually solve this in a real way, not just in a greenwashing way, but in a material way?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

So many. Schneider Electric is one. They make electric motors. They’ve done a phenomenal job. There’s even companies which make paper that are, for example … Everybody’s different, by the way, right? They’re growing trees to harvest, but at the same time now, they’ve realized that they’re actually growing regenerative forest, too. So if you multiply that, it actually starts adding up. There are many, many businesses. I mean, naming a few now would be a little unfair.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah, no. I think it’s starting to happen. I mean, obviously, in the space that I’m in, which is food, I think you’ve come to very similar conclusions that I have from a different perspective, which is that we have to solve this at scale. We have to do this through business innovation. We have to do this through policy change, and it’s why I created the food fix campaign. I see businesses in the food space starting to change.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

A couple of friends of mine are on the sustainability board of Nestle, which was the big ogre in the food space, it’s the biggest food company, and they had a bad reputation for infant formula propagation in Africa, which they couldn’t afford, and they watered it down, and the babies were all malnourished. It was a whole thing in the ’70s. I don’t know if you know about that. That was bad. They have a different CEO now who’s very interested in this space and has committed 80% of its supply chain to be regenerative agriculture by 2030.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Amazing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Now, I don’t know if they can achieve that, but that really struck me as a remarkable stand because I had a conversation with the president of Nestle in America a number of years ago. He says, “I know this is necessary, but we can’t do it because we can’t get the supply chain to feed our monster.”

Hakan Bulgurlu:

To adapt, yeah. I mean, change is absolutely necessary, but scale is the keyword.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. So how do we get scale because people feel powerless? I think a lot of people listen to these stories and they feel, “God. Okay. Mark Hyman, you can do this. Hakan, you’re a CEO of a $9 billion company. You can make an impact, but I’m just Joe,” or Sally or whoever, “what can I do? How can I make a difference?”

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Okay. Well, before I get to that, I want to talk about scale just briefly, just to give one example of why it’s important. Patagonia, we all love. I really enjoy mountain stuff, and they do the great thing, and it’s good marketing for them as well. It works, but it’s small.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

It’s small, yeah.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Then you take what we do, 50 million appliances a year. You take the cuts we’re promising in emissions by 2030, 11 and a half million tons. That’s the equivalent to the country of Hungary a year. So you see what I mean?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah, and you’re just one company.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

One company. So you get enough companies behind this at scale, the tide is going to turn, but that in itself is not enough. So coming back to the individual, what we can do? We really need to make our choice. Every day, we make a thousand choices, millions of thousands of choices even sometimes. We need to make sure we’re thinking about the impact we have every choice we make, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, I mean, you know better than I do, the appliances we buy. We need to electrify everything. We need to eat less meat, for sure, because, of course-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Well, we need no feed lot meat and more regenerative meat.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah, but, I mean, to grow that much regenerative meat for the world is also a bit difficult, I think, and problematic. The whole food thing is too complex to get my head around, but-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. I’ll stick with that one. That’s my area.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah, but it’s pretty clear we have to move away from fossil fuels and consumers need to drive that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

So you feel hopeful looking at the landscape-

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I am, I am, I am.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

… of business, policymakers because you deal with government leaders, you deal with policymakers. Are they thinking about this the right way or they just … because it seems like, and America’s the worst because you’ve got Congress that turns over every two years, and all they’re thinking about is the next election. There’s no longevity of thinking the next quarter, it’s the next election, and it just creates all this shortsighted set of incentives, which actually subvert what we all need to do, and we all know we need to do to take care of ourselves and the planet.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. America, yeah, tends to reverse its policies every couple of years, which is sad. I am hopeful because I do see traction in governments. I do see traction in businesses. Is it fast enough? Not really. A couple years ago, I was saying there’s 416 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. Today, it’s 421. Now, for us to reach our goals, that should have been much lower. We’re actually increasing still. A lot needs to happen, but I’m a true believer in technology as well, and technology has to be a part of the solution here, and it is.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Capital is flowing that direction. Many believe the next 100 unicorns are going to come or decacorns, $10 billion plus valuation startups are going to come from the climate space. I believe that. In the book, I interviewed a lot of people who are working on technologies around that, carbon capture, mass planting of trees. These are all solutions that we can do today.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I really believe that they’re going to start happening, especially as we start feeling the impact of the destruction more, I think we’re really going to speed up the solutions.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I mean, obviously, I pay attention, you pay attention, and people hear the news and they hear the weather and they see the refugee crises and they hear the foods destabilization around the world and they see all these consequences, but I think it’s very scary for people and I feel people feel disempowered around it and discouraged. I think you mentioned a number of things that people can do individually, but do you think the individual changes are going to make that much of a difference-

Hakan Bulgurlu:

I really do.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

… as opposed to businesses and governments making the real change they need to make?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Businesses and governments have the responsibility, but so do we as individuals, and I think it’s going to take collective effort to push the governments as well. As people are more aware of what’s happening, the reactions will be quite strong. Yes, I do believe, I do believe it’s going to happen. It has to happen.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

It does. It absolutely does. I mean, I think it’s very inspiring for me to listen to you talk about solutions that are in the business space because they’ve been the biggest part of the problem, but they also can be the biggest part of the solution. You’re an example of how that actually can happen in an industry, which probably most people don’t think about as a climate-related industry, but every industry is, in some degree, a climate-related industry and has the potential through the visionary thinking you have and the leadership you have and the technology development you have to actually solve this problem.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Yeah. I mean, every CEO or business leader doesn’t have to climb Everest, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

No. You did that for them.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

What has to happen is we have to evolve our consciousness and really be careful about our choices. I believe it’s happening. I see it everywhere, Mark. I mean, you must see it everywhere. People are so much more focused now and aware of their health and what they’re eating and how they want to live their lives and how the medical system works. All of that kind of awareness is also happening with what you put into your body, if it’s poisoning you, what you’re putting into the air and the water is also poisoning you, and people are becoming more aware of this.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. I think it’s exciting. So your book is really a beautiful story of both your own personal journey at Mount Everest, but also your personal journey to understand how to really impact the climate crisis and actually make a difference for people in their thinking, in their actions, and the stories that are in there, the innovations that are happening, the kinds of thinking that’s happening in governments, the changes in the thinking of CEOs around the world, the consumer shifts. It’s inspiring.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

It’s a little bit slow for me. It’s not fast enough, obviously, for you, but I think this book is a great read and everybody should check it out, Mountain to Climb: The Climate Crisis, A Summit Beyond Everest. It’s a beautiful story. Thank God you did it so I didn’t have to. Any last words on how we might reimagine the future together?

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Well, I mean, thank you, Mark, for having me. It’s been a real pleasure. I think we all collectively need to just be aware of the impact we have on Mother Earth, and we need to understand that we are responsible for what happens tomorrow. If we shoulder that responsibility and we really take it seriously, we have children, even if you don’t have children, that we actually try and preserve this beautiful, incredible planet that we have.

Hakan Bulgurlu:

Some people want to go to Mars. I mean, why would you want to go to Mars? It’s a dead planet. So I heard some people say, “If you wait here long enough, that might happen.” That’s not going to happen. We’re not going to let that happen. This is just probably the biggest miracle that’s ever existed, and it’s called nature, and we need to just get into harmony with it and learn how to live well and preserve what we have.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

That’s quite a beautiful vision. I just want to share a little story I heard the other night because we’re here in Bodrum in Turkey. We’re recording this podcast. Right literally out the window, we can see off the coast of the Mediterranean sea, dozens of fish farms that are selling food to Whole Foods as sustainably farmed fish, but under the hood, it’s not really that way. In fact, every fish is shot full of antibiotics. There’s maybe only 60 meters of depth in the ocean and takes up about two-thirds of that to farm these fish. There’s millions of fish crowd in small areas. It’s polluting the oceans and it’s just bad news in terms of the quality of the fish, the impact on the environment.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

As a solution, there are innovative ways to reimagine how we do things. One of them was this thing called the fish bank, which I’d never heard about, which is the idea that our friend, Barack, shared about, which was he’d brought the president of Turkey here to actually show him this problem and he said that they solved this problem by leaving fish populations alone for long enough where literally every year the fish population will double until it starts to create an overflow of fish that if you go outside this protected area, the fish bank literally will produce dividends and these fish will get out of their protected area and create enough fish for ongoing harvesting without depleting the fish supply.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

So there’s all sorts of simple ideas like this that all across all business sectors and all society and human endeavor that we can actually start to lean into to solve these problems. It’s really the model that my friend Paul Hawkin talks about, that we had him on the podcast talk about, which is regeneration. How can we create a regenerative model of living, of business, of innovation, of technology? I think that’s where we’re going, and not fast enough, but I think you’re leading the way and I’d follow you up any mountain, Hakan.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

So thank you for being on the podcast and thank you all for listening. If you we’re inspired by what you heard here, please share this with your friends and family on social media. Subscribe wherever you get your podcast. Leave a comment about how you maybe are thinking about this and creating solutions and getting out of climate depression because I think that’s really we need to do. We need to get out of paralysis and into action, and that’s really what you’ve done at scale. I’m really honored to know you and to be part of this conversation with you. So thank you so much, and for all of you listening, we’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Closing:

Hi, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their find a practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner, and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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