Next time you’re in a shopping center, count how many businesses advertise that they are “eco-friendly.” There will probably be a lot of people bragging about their environmental credentials. However, these are largely useless assertions that serve only as window decoration. Companies only want to appear concerned about the environment; they don’t actually care.
But it is feasible to have a firm that is truly environmentally conscientious, and these blinks show that such a corporation would be characterized by ecological thinking. It’s not just a matter of looking good; you must genuinely care for the environment, which entails using ecological principles while thinking, designing, and—most importantly—operating. According to William McDonough, Michael Braungart, and Bill Clinton’s book The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance, any organization that achieves this will actually be more effective and profitable than ever.
Perhaps the biggest issue ever brought on by human action is climate change. We’ve all heard about or seen evidence of the consequences, including melting ice caps, quickly declining rainforests, and catastrophic weather. So how can we resolve this issue?
Some contend that humans should stop interacting with the natural world, however this is a poor strategy. In actuality, avoiding contact with the natural world is not an ecological method to interact with it. That’s because altering nature doesn’t often entail eradicating it. There are various methods for us to coexist peacefully with nature.
Consider the natural world as a whole as a garden. We can take care of and develop the entire natural world in the same way that gardeners tend to individual plants, ensuring their survival and growth. Building secure, fruitful settings that allow flora and fauna the highest possibility of survival is all that is necessary.
And nature herself is the best lesson we have about how to achieve this. There is one lesson that is especially crucial. We must “upcycle,” or recycle unwanted materials to create something new. Consider how feces are handled in the natural world, where they are broken down by micro- and macroorganisms and finally transformed into humus, a nutrient-rich substance that supports other living forms like mushrooms.
Furthermore, harmful gases can even be usefully used by nature. Take CO2, for instance, a gas that is essential to the process of global warming. Animals do, in fact, naturally produce CO2, and many different types of creatures do it only by exhaling. The cycle is then completed when plants transform it into oxygen that animals can subsequently breathe in again. Therefore, not all CO2 emissions are harmful. They play a crucial role in nature’s process, in fact.
Typically, people associate “environmentally concerned items” with one thing: high prices. But this widely held belief is far from accurate. This is due to the fact that, when done correctly, ecological product design is more cost-effective than more conventional manufacture.
For instance, we are developing technology to make buildings incredibly energy efficient, which will result in future cost reductions. Buildings equipped with this technology would only need artificial lighting for 40 days out of the year. Soon, buildings will be able to use artifactual lighting, which is lighting that is partially artificial and partially natural. Clearly, this results in significant energy savings.
As a result, even though building such a structure would be roughly as expensive as building a conventional building of the same type and size, the eco-conscious one offers far greater value.
However, it’s risky to presume that conventional materials would work when applying eco-friendly designs. In truth, you’ll require supplies that are effective and appropriate for the task. Therefore, it’s essential to keep an open mind to all information. It’s ideal if it matches the desired design.
Consider Paul MacCready, who created the first airplane with only human power. He was also the first to build airplane wings out of Mylar, an extraordinarily durable polymer film. The outcome was a set of airplane wings that were remarkably resilient for their day, cementing MacCready’s status as an aviation pioneer.
Or take Thomas Edison, who laboriously looked for a natural chemical to utilize as a filament for lightbulbs. He was willing to even use human hair! But eventually he came to the conclusion that bamboo would be the most effective material, and he even had a botanist cultivate and import it for him. Clearly, great product design makes it possible to seamlessly combine economic and ecological efficiency!
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