Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Issues... and solutions

"Business has three basic issues to face: what it takes, what it makes, and what it wastes, and the three are intimately connected. First, business takes too much from the environment and does so in a harmful way; second, the products it makes require excessive amounts of energy, toxins, and pollutants; and finally, the method of manufacture and the very products themselves produce extraordinary waste and cause harm to present and future generations of all species including humans.
The solution for all three dilemmas are three fundamental principles that govern nature. First, waste equals food. In nature, detritus is constantly recycled to nourish other systems with a minimum of energy and inputs. We call ourselves consumers, but the problem is that we do not consume. Each person in America produces twice his weight per day in household, hazardous, and industrial waste, and an additional half-ton per week when gaseous wastes such as carbon dioxide are included. An ecological model of commerce would imply that all waste have value to other modes of production so that everything is either reclaimed, reused, or recycled. Second, nature runs off of current solar income. The only input into the closed system of the earth is the sun. Last, nature depends on diversity, thrives on differences, and perishes in the imbalance of uniformity. Healthy systems are highly varied and specific to time and place. Nature is not mass-produced."

Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce. A Declaration of Sustainability.
(Chapter "A teasing irony").