Socially Responsible Business Archive


A Mini-Festo for Earth Day – Rebuild the Foodshed

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

For the past month, author Philip Ackerman-Leist has been on a Twitter MiniFesto campaign – each day sending out a new tweet designed to spark conversation and pass along some lessons he learned whilst working on his last book, Rebuilding the Foodshed.

You might also know Philip as the author of his memoir Up Tunket Road or as Director of the Green Mountain College Farm & Food Project and the Director of the Masters in Sustainable Food Systems at Green Mountain College. Or, from his carbon offset approach to commuting to work.

We know that Philip spends some of his time answering tweets and questions from his PastureFone (a mobile phone that doubles as a cattle herding device we think), and we all know that some of our best thinking can come when we’re away from devices, and getting dirty, or frustrated, with our daily chores.

So on this Earth Day we’re offering up the full Minifesto of Ackerman-Leist below, and a link to a downloadable and printable file that you should feel free to print and download, and then put up in the nearest outhouse wall, bathroom stall, or other popular, quiet reading places.

Your Revolutionary Minifesto Friends at Chelsea Green Publishing

Minifesto: Tweets for Rebuilding the Foodshed

I. Start from the grassroots—and move all the way down to the highest levels of government.

II. Sustainable farms are run by the sun: the rest of the food system needs daylight, too.

III. When thinking about farms: management first & scale second. You figure out where location fits. (Hint: about 1.5)

IV. Fully understanding the expanse between farm to plate demands the full distance between one’s ears.

V. Local was never intended to be universal.

VI. Small successes are easier to manage than big failures.

VII. Success leads; policy follows.

VIII.Crow tastes like chicken: Be prepared to eat some.

IX. Main ingredient in a recipe for disaster: sticking to the recipe when you don’t have all of the ingredients.

X. Two ingredients not needed in a recipe for success: us and them.

XI. Leave the selfie at the door. Shift to panorama mode.

XII. All white ain’t alright.

XIII. PC quickly becomes passé: Do what’s right, not necessarily what is correct.

XIV. Get off the can (BPA, dude!) and out of the box!

XV. Change comes more from victual sharing than virtual sharing.

XVI. Food is neither left nor right of center, but in our politics we are left with the right to food question.

XVII. Food system as economic driver: A job doth not a fair wage make.

XVIII. The divide is less urban/rural than it is have/have not.

XIX. Trust the windshield view more than the dashboard indicators.

XX. Don’t just move the needle. Bend it a little bit. When all else fails, consider a new dial.

XXI. Nuance provides precision–and it’s too often the victim of well-intentioned advocacy.

XXII. Numbers & values: sometimes the same thing, sometimes in opposition.

XXIII. Behind every label lies a story…some are fairy tales.

XXIV. Fields of expertise: Farmers & fishers need to be at the table, too—not just profs, chefs, wonks, & good intentions.

XXV. Finitude sucks. Prioritization rules.

XXVI. Don’t forget to dig! (We might even require ag in school if it weren’t so complex.)

XXVII. Old dirt, same story: New horizons in soils help cultivate common ground, common sense, & uncommon potential.

XXVIII. Food system waste is nothing more than a lack of ecological imagination.

XXIX. Tomorrow is only 1/3 of the answer.

XXX. Impatience is your most important ally; patience is your best friend.

To follow Philip on Twitter go to @ackermanleistp

Anno MMXV “Twitterus rebuildum”

 

Download the Minfesto, print it and spread the revolution!

 

Minifesto-RebuildingTheFoodshed Day30 by Philip Ackerman-Leist

Chelsea Green to Revolutionize Industry with Edible Books

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Move over Gutenberg: In advance of Earth Day 2015, environmental publishing leader Chelsea Green Publishing is announcing the introduction of an entirely new type of book – the completely biodegradable, and in certain instances edible, book.

While some publishers tout the recycled content of their papers, or use of soy-based inks, Chelsea Green, which turned 30 in 2014, is embarking on a new type of book that promises to revolutionize how we think of books as objects. These books are designed to nourish the mind, and the body. Literally.

Using all-natural and organic ingredients as their base, similar to the methods used in a new line of plantable coffee cups by a California entrepreneur, and these coffee cup makers in North Dakota, our limited line of biodegradable books will allow readers to use their books to:

  • Make healing bone broth;
  • Grow mushrooms;
  • Plant heirloom squash and other select varietals;
  • Reforest areas degraded by those “other” book publishers, and much more.

Each of these limited-edition books will come with a free, companion eBook, to allow you to return to those pages you’ve now planted, or eaten. These books are designed to help do more than just put seeds of knowledge into people’s hands, but the seeds themselves.

The broth-brewing books, based on the recent top-selling book The Heal Your Gut Cookbook, will come in three flavors —Beef, Chicken or Fish. Why stand in line at Brodo waiting for a cup of broth, when you can simply make it yourself in the comfort of your kitchen.

How does it work? For the bone broth book, it’s simple: Since each page is made from a combination of finely ground bones, marrow, and a vegetable seasoning powder, when you’re done reading a section of the book, simply tear out the book’s pages at its perforated edge and drop into boiling water. Within minutes you’ll have a delicious steaming hot bone broth. The more pages you use, the stronger the broth!

Other titles to be released in our new biodegradable series include:

  • Organic Mushroom Farming: Pages from this book are inoculated with mushroom mycelium. Just place the pages on top of a growing substrate—some cardboard or an old pair of jeans— and it’ll start growing fungi! You can use those mushrooms for food, or as author Tradd Cotter points out in his book, for a variety of health and environmental mycoremediation projects.
  • The Tao of Vegetable Gardening: Grow some of Carol Deppe’s amazing heirloom varietals, including squash and corn by planting pages from her book. Select pages will help you seed an “Eat-All Greens Garden,” her revolutionary way of growing greens that can raise enough fresh, leafy greens for a small family for a year.
  • Farming the Woods: Pages from this book will help you reforest deforested northern woodlands by planting a mix of deciduous and conifer trees. Techniques in the book laid out by authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel will show you how to then add plantings of wild garlic, ginseng, and more to augment the production of food from your forest.
  • Holy Shit: With the subtitle of “Managing Manure to Save Mankind,” need we say more? This treatise on all things bowel-related and how we can harness its richness to fertilize the land—including the use of humanure. This book is edible enough to become compost after you chomp it, yet biodegradable enough for the less adventurous who merely want to toss it on the compost pile when they’re done. If neither appeals, it does make for a great bathroom read.

Unlike the creator of the K-Cup, we have no regrets about bringing books into the world, and want to ensure that no one makes a viral video accusing us of “Killing the Planet” with our hefty how-to tomes because people may have concerns about their environmental impact.

For more information about this revolutionary publishing technology, visit www.eat-this-book.com.

And … Happy April 1st!

Get More from Your Mission: The Social Profit Handbook

Monday, March 16th, 2015

For-profit institutions measure their success primarily by monetary gains. But nonprofit institutions are different; they aim for social profit, or improving the well-being of people, place, and planet.

The Social Profit Handbook draws from author David Grant’s decades of leadership in the education, foundation, and nonprofit worlds, and provides  leaders of social profit institutions with the tools they need to measure their success in entirely new ways, help clarify their visions, and better achieve their goals. Grant explains how organizations can reclaim impact assessment, making it an exercise for improving future work rather than merely judging past performance.

Written for those who lead, govern, and support mission-driven organizations—including for-profit, socially responsible businesses—The Social Profit Handbook tackles fundamental challenges facing these important change-makers.

“I think we are all aware of a big problem—a world awash in financial profit, or at least the pursuit of it, when what it needs is social profit,” writes Grant in the book’s introduction.”Yet my approach to the problem involves a relatively small change in the way staffs and boards of social sector organizations—and the new breed of socially conscious businesses—define and assess their successes in creating social profit.”

With fewer people believing that government — state, federal, or even local — can be trusted to solve problems, that trust is being placed in the cash-strapped “third sector” or “civic sector.”

“The sector is fragmented and cash-strapped, but collectively it can have enormous influence on the other sectors not only through its good work but also through its influence on voters and consumers. In short, I believe that social sector organizations can elevate the concept of social profit through the ways they define, pursue, and achieve the social benefits implicit in their missions. ”

You can read Grant’s complete introduction (including his elevator pitch speech to a prospective reader), along with Susan Kenny Stevens’ Foreword here.

Grant offers concrete strategies for achieving what matters most in the social sector: more benefits to society and stronger, more unified, more effective organizations prepared to make the world a better place. He does this by helping organizations implement “backwards planning” or starting from where you see your actions taking you, and working backward to determine the steps along the way that will help make that happen, and how to assess your progress along the way.

As you can see in this video clip below, Grant notes that most of us use this backwards planning technique on a regular basis. How? When we go on vacation. We don’t just pack our bags, show up at the airport and ask if there’s a plane leaving soon. We make a plan, an itinerary that we follow up to, and during, the vacation. Likewise, organizations need to set their sights into the future, and then define how best to reach those goals and achieve true, lasting, social benefits for society.

Buy your copy of The Social Profit Handbook today, get planning, and change the future.

Chelsea Green Publishing Turns 30!

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Explore a slideshow of cover images from some of our most iconic books over the past 30 years. Excerpts from these books and close to 100 others are all part of a new Chelsea Green anthology celebrating our 30th anniversary – The Chelsea Green Reader.

This collection offers readers a glimpse into our wide-ranging list of books and authors and to the important ideas that they express. Interesting and worth reading in their own right, the individual passages when taken as a whole trace the evolution of a highly successful small publisher—something that is almost an oxymoron in these days of corporate buyouts and multinational book groups.

Take a walk down memory lane with us and check out this selection of book covers from 1985 to the present.

Chelsea Green Celebrates 30 Years of Craft and Cutting Edge Books

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

We here at Chelsea Green have always had a nose for authors and books that are years ahead of the cultural curve. That knack is clearly on display in a new anthology that we’re making available to celebrate our first thirty years in publishing.

More than one hundred books are represented in this collection and reflect the many distinct areas in which we have published—from literature and memoirs to progressive politics, to highly practical books on green building, organic gardening and farming, food and health, and related subjects—all of which reflect our underlying philosophy: “The politics and practice of sustainable living.”

The Chelsea Green Reader offers a glimpse into our wide-ranging list of books and authors and to the important ideas that they express. Interesting and worth reading in their own right, the individual passages when taken as a whole trace the evolution of a highly successful small publisher—something that is almost an oxymoron in these days of corporate buyouts and multinational book groups.

“I like to think of these brief excerpts as individual stones in a cairn. A cairn is a landmark, a pile of rocks built by hikers high above tree line in the mountains. It grows larger and larger over the years as new hikers passing by contribute a new stone, or replace one that might have fallen. A cairn is there to confirm, even on a foggy day, that we are on the right path, and it indicates the way forward, to the summit,” writes Senior Editor Ben Watson in the book’s preface.

“Every book is a stone, or a brick in the wall, of an edifice that is always being constructed, constantly evolving, and never quite finished. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that a publishing company is colloquially referred to as a ‘house,’” Watson adds. “At Chelsea Green we continue to build, with our authors and their ideas, a great house, one that represents our deeply held values and beliefs, our hopes and our dreams.”CGP_grasshopper_olive green

From the beginning, Chelsea Green’s books were nationally recognized, garnering positive reviews, accolades, and awards. We’ve published four New York Times bestsellers, and our books have set the standard for in-depth, how-to books that remain relevant years—often decades—beyond their original publication date. Books in this volume range from ones that appeared in our very first catalog in 1985 (and remain in print today) to ones that have long since gone out of print, but not forgotten as important touchstones for us as a publisher.

“Chelsea Green was born from a single seed: the beauty of craft. Craft in writing and editing, in a story well told, or a thesis superbly expressed,” writes cofounder and publisher emeritus Ian Baldwin in the book’s Foreword.

This attention to craft has even informed our business model: In 2012, Chelsea Green became an employee-owned company as a way to “practice what we publish” and lay the groundwork to ensure that the founders’ legacy remained intact in the decades to follow.

The move made Chelsea Green unique among book publishers in an industry dominated by investor-driven, multinational corporations. Only a handful of independent book publishers can claim employee-ownership status, and of those Chelsea Green will be near the top in terms of the percentage controlled by employees.

With the rise of the Internet, new media platforms, and a constantly shifting bookselling landscape, the future of publishing is anything but predictable. But if Chelsea Green’s books prove anything, it is that, despite these challenges, there remains a hunger for new and important ideas and authors, and for the permanence and craftsmanship of the printed word. Today our ongoing mission is stronger than ever, as we launch into our next thirty years of publishing excellence.

“People are moved by what they read,” adds Baldwin in his Foreword. “That pertains whether they read an ebook or a printed one, and they want to connect with the writers who make their lives richer. Part of the publisher’s role is to help make this vitalizing connection. This nexus among author, publisher, and reader is, I believe, unlikely to wither anytime soon.”

Carbon Shock-onomics: Climate and the Economy

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Millions of people take to the streets this weekend around the world — with tens of thousands headed to New York City for the People’s Climate March — to show that people want action from global leaders, not more talk when it comes to responding to the growing climate crisis.

Investigative journalist Mark Schapiro, author of Carbon Shock, has pulled together some key facts that all climate marchers should know about the climate and the economy — today, and going forward as climate talks take shape next year in Paris.

carbon-shockTHE COSTS
Climate change is the biggest economic challenge of our times. The world’s two biggest economies—the US and Europe—estimate hundreds of billions of dollars in costs from heat waves, floods, and an accelerating wave of climate refugees fleeing lands on which they can no longer sustain themselves.

WHO PAYS?
The public takes the risk and the fossil fuel intensive industries make the profits. That’s why the true costs of fossil fuels are called ‘externalized’ costs—costs that are often hidden through dishonest, but perfectly legal, accounting. Who pays those costs? Taxpayers. You and me.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE? The Companies
Just 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions. Three thousand of the world’s biggest companies cause $2.15 trillion in annual environmental costs, most of those relating to climate change, according to a UN report.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE? The Consumers
A quarter of China’s greenhouse gases can be attributed to the production of goods for export to the US and Europe. Who is responsible for those emissions: the producer or the consumer?

THE TRADE WARS
The first climate trade war is being fought by the US, China & Russia against Europe, over the European Union’s effort to regulate greenhouse gases coming from airplanes, which contribute more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than any other form of transportation.

FOOD & WATER
Two of the greatest threats to the US government’s finances are the looming costs of the federally subsidized crop insurance system, due to climate-related drought and intensifying heat, and flood insurance.

AN OIL SPILL A DAY
Whether greenhouse gases are emitted from a car’s gas tank in New York or a gushing oil rig off the Louisiana coast, to the planet it’s the same: We’re letting loose an oil spill a day into the atmosphere. Every conventional U.S car comes with $2,000 in greenhouse gas-related lifetime costs, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

WHAT WE MUST DO
Honest accounting: Set a global price for carbon to reflect its damage to the planet. Take the green dividend and invest in a low-carbon, equitable, economy that supports renewable energy, local food, public transportation, and livable communities.

 

Climate March Poster by Shepard Fairey

Carbon Shock: How Carbon is Changing the Cost of Everything

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Carbon. It’s in the air. It’s in the soil. It increasingly fuels and disrupts our economies, and is recasting geopolitical power.

Enter Carbon Shock: A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy, where veteran journalist Mark Schapiro takes readers on a journey into a world where the same chaotic forces reshaping our natural world are also transforming the economy, playing havoc with corporate calculations, shifting economic and political power, and upending our understanding of the real risks, costs, and possibilities of what lies ahead.

In this ever-changing world, carbon—the stand-in for all greenhouse gases—rules, and disrupts, and calls upon us to seek new ways to reduce it while factoring it into nearly every long-term financial plan we have. But how?

From the jungles of the Amazon to the farms in California’s Central Valley, from ‘greening’ cities like Pittsburgh to rising powerhouses like China, from the oil-splattered beaches of Spain to carbon-trading desks in London, Schapiro deftly explores the key axis points of change.

Carbon Shock offers a critical, and often missing, perspective on this important topic as global leaders prepare to meet for the next round of climate talks in 2015, and the Climate March in New York City is planned for this Fall. Early praise for Schapiro’s book notes that his book does what other books often fail to do — provide both critique and solutions.

“Mark Schapiro transcends standard discussions about the well-known culprits and ramifications of climate change and takes us on a harrowing, international exploration of the universal economic costs of carbon emissions,” writes Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents’ Bankers. “In his path-breaking treatise, Schapiro exposes the multinational corporate obfuscation of these costs; the folly of localized pseudo-solutions that spur Wall Street trading but don’t quantify financial costs or public risks, solve core problems, or provide socially cheaper and environmentally sounder practices; and the laggard policies of the US, Russia and China relative to the EU in fashioning longer-term remedies. Not only does Schapiro compel the case for a global effort to thwart the joint economic and environmental plundering of our planet in this formidable book, but he expertly outlines the way to get there.”

Bestselling author Alan Weisman (The World Without Us) adds, “We can be grateful that Mark Schapiro has navigated some dreaded territory – the arcana of global finance – to show with blessed clarity exactly where we are so far, what’s failed and why, what might work, and where surprising hope lies.”

Who Pays?

At times trying to roll back the impacts of climate change can seem daunting – but not nearly as much as the notion of paying for its effects given today’s fossil-fuel funded political debate. But, as Schapiro notes in a recent OpEd in the Los Angeles Times, the fact is that American taxpayers are paying for the costs of climate change now. These costs don’t hit people all at once but sporadically, in different places and at different times. They don’t feel like a carbon tax, though they amount to one.

“The costs of recovering from climate-change signposts like Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina and major drought are well documented,” writes Schapiro in his OpEd. “What’s less known are the costs — the trap doors — that have normally been accounted for in some ledger other than atmospheric chaos.” Those include food, crop insurance, and health care, among others.

For almost two decades, global climate talks have focused on how to make polluters pay for the carbon they emit. It remains an unfolding financial mystery: What are the costs? Who will pay for them? Who do you pay? How do you pay? And what are the potential impacts? The answers to these questions, and more, are crucial to understanding, if not shaping, the coming decade.

Carbon Shock evokes a world in which the parameters of our understanding are shifting—on a scale even more monumental than how the digital revolution transformed financial decision-making—toward a slow but steady acknowledgement of the costs and consequences of climate change.

Carbon Shock is on sale now for 35% off until August 19th.

 

Join the 2014 Local Food Enterprise Summit

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

As a part of Permaculture Month, Chelsea Green is proud to sponsor the 2014 Local Food Enterprise Summit, to be held May 31-June 4 in Miami, Florida, featuring two of our noteworthy authors: Eric Toensmeier and Judy Wicks!

Save $80 off registration. Register here and use discount code CHELSEA.

During this five-day intensive convergence hosted by Earth Learning and the Financial Permaculture Institute, you will learn from community investment and financial experts, permaculture designers, and sustainability entrepreneurs to begin building resiliency in your own community.

Economic and ecological challenges of the twenty-first century will be addressed, as you work with the experts to design forward-thinking businesses that optimize local, natural systems and human capacities to implement models of regenerative business and local resiliency.

Meet Our Authors

Eric Toensmeier has spent twenty years exploring edible and useful plants of the world and their use in perennial agroecosystems. He is the award winning author of Paradise Lot, Perennial Vegetables and co-author of Edible Forest Gardens with Dave Jacke. His current project is promoting perennial farming systems, including agroforestry and perennial staple crops, as a strategy to sequester carbon while restoring degraded lands, and providing food, fuel, income, and ecosystem services. Read more…

Judy Wicks is an international leader and speaker in the local-living-economies movement and former owner of the White Dog Café, acclaimed for its socially and environmentally responsible business practices. With her memoir, Good Morning, Beautiful Business, she tells her story of stumbling into entrepreneurship and ending up reviving a community and starting a national economic reform movement. Read more…

 

Don’t miss your chance to learn directly from these local food economy experts at this year’s Local Food Enterprise Summit! Space is limited. Register now using discount code CHELSEA.

Can We Afford to Keep Plundering the Planet?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Mineral treasures that took millions, even billions of years to form are now being squandered in just centuries—even decades. A central question that has been vigorously debated for the last two centuries is simple: Are we going to run out?

Ugo Bardi, author of Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet says, “We have been acting with mineral resources as if we were pirates looting a captured galleon: grabbing everything we can, as fast as we can.”

In Extracted, Bardi argues the issue is not purely one of depletion of mineral resources, but also that most minerals are becoming gradually more and more expensive to extract as the easy access to high-grade ores becomes progressively scarce.

For example, in the oil industry, scientists have examined the amount of energy needed to extract crude oil and compared it to the amount of energy that oil can produce. In the past, oil was an excellent investment with returns close to 50-100 to 1, but today, Bardi writes, “oil extraction is nearing that fateful point of non-return in which it becomes a useless exercise of energy waste.”

Skeptics will continue to claim there is an abundance of natural resources available beneath the Earth’s crust. They believe human ingenuity and technological advances will develop the mining machines necessary for extraction. However, the question remains, at what cost?

The issue of cost, and the broader global impacts, is a crucial reason that Library Journal had this to say in a review of the book: “With input from other mineral experts, Bardi also rebuts critics who argue that emerging technologies, like a ‘universal mining machine,’ will be able to solve most of these problems. A skillfully written guide to a crucial, little-understood subject and an urgent wake-up call.”

Or, as Jorgen Randers (2052) explains in his foreword, Bardi’s book arrives at a critical time when countries are beginning to question the headlong belief that we can continue to extract minerals at no incremental cost – either financial or environmental.

“At a time when discussion of mineral depletion often resorts to black-and-white analyses of what we are running out of, what has peaked, and how we might cope without it, Extracted offers a full-bodied analysis that illuminates the real consequences of relentlessly plundering the planet for its mineral riches: an altered landscape, massive pollution issues, potential economic upheaval, and, among other serious results, the unleashing of greenhouse gases by mining and burning fossil fuels,” writes Randers.

At present, with Russia flexing its natural resource muscles in its annexation of Crimea and the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report warning policy makers that the world must take action now to save our climate balance, it seems clear we have reached a crossroads in our state of mineral wealth. Bardi’s Extracted reads like a road map of our mineral history and explores how we can use this knowledge to navigate toward a more sustainable future.

Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet is available now and on sale for 35% off until May 5th.

 

Extracted: Foreword and Preface by Chelsea Green Publishing

Zero Waste: A concrete step towards sustainability

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

By Dr. Paul Connett

I can’t remember exactly when I concluded that we were living on this planet “as if we had another one to go.”

We would need at least four planets if the whole world’s population consumed like the average American and two if everyone consumed like the average European. Meanwhile India and China are copying our massive consumption patterns. If we want to move in a sustainable direction then something has to change. In my view, the best place to start that change is with waste. Because every day every human being on this planet makes waste. All the time that we do that we are living in a non-sustainable fashion, but with good political leadership – especially at the local level – we could be part of a movement towards sustainability. A sustainable society has to be a zero waste society.

The zero waste approach is better for the local economy (more jobs), better for our health (less toxics), better for our planet (more sustainable), and better for our children (more hope for the future).

How do we get there?

Zero Waste a New DirectionIn The Zero Waste Solution I outline “Ten Steps to Zero Waste,” which are essentially common sense. Most people would have little trouble dealing with the first seven steps:

• source separation
• door-to-door collection
• composting
• recycling
• reuse and repair
• pay-as-you-throw systems for the residuals, and,
• waste reduction initiatives at both the community and corporate level.

However, it is Step Eight where some people are going to have trouble and where, if we are not careful, the waste industry could easily co-opt all our good work.

The incineration industry has discovered that by introducing two words it can continue to insert its poisonous, polluting activities into the mix. The phrase “Zero Waste to Landfill” cynically takes the good intentions of the Zero Waste movement and moves it back in a non-sustainable direction.

Instead, step eight calls on communities to build a residual separation and research facility in front of the landfill. The point of this step is to make the residual fraction very visible as opposed to landfills and incinerators that attempt to make the residuals disappear.

It is at this facility that we have to introduce a new discipline on waste. The community has to say to industry “if we can’t reuse it, recycle it or compost it, you shouldn’t be making it.” In other words waste is a design problem, and that is Step Nine: We need better design of both products and packaging if we are going to rid ourselves of the wretched “throwaway ethic” which has dominated both manufacture and our daily lives since WW II. We need to turn off the tap on disposable objects.

The final step is to create interim landfills — and I use interim because the goal of zero waste initiatives is to eliminate the need for traditional landfills. These interim landfills should be seen as temporary holding facilities until we can better figure out how to recycle, reuse, or better dispose of these materials than just tossing them in the ground, and capping them.

Summing it up with the Four Rs

Zero Waste four RsThe simplest way to explain Zero Waste is that it involves four Rs. The three familiar R’s of community responsibility—Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (including composting)—are joined by the less familiar “R” of industrial responsibility: Re-design.

In fact, the first person that talked about zero waste was one of the greatest designers of all time: Leonardo da Vinci. Somewhere in his writing he said that there is no such thing as waste: one industry’s waste should be another industry’s starting material. No doubt he was copying nature’s approach to materials. Nature makes no waste; she recycles everything. Waste is a human invention. Now we need to spend some effort to “de-invent” it.

Dr. Paul Connett is the author of The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time.


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