Chuck it......f*ck it.
Why An Eco-Friendly World Isn't Linear.
Throughout this blog, we have discussed the perils of excessive plastic in our landfills, ocean, and even the air through microplastics.
We wrote a blog post specifically about microplastics HERE:
These solutions are not just relevant to plastic; however, they represent the BIG picture of what’s wrong with the environment and the way human beings consume and do business on this planet as a whole. These are global problems that are also relevant to not only plastic, but the quality of the air that we breathe, the land we farm, the food we consume, etc.
From a business standpoint, humanity acts almost in the EXACT OPPOSITE of the way our planet does business.
Our planet wastes nothing. She has no natural landfills, no “garbage patches” the size of Texas, and certainly doesn’t produce anything hazardous to herself in the long run such as plastic (and don’t forget nuclear radiation!).
What does our planet’s natural systems and processes look like? They are cyclical, circular, and sustainable.
Plants get their energy from the sun through photosynthesis, animals consume the plants, and when animals die, their bodies become nutrients for soil with no energy lost.
For a basic refresher on this, please listen to the Lion King’s Mufasa and Elton John’s “The Circle of Life ; )
Our water cycle is equally sustainable and circular. Our water moves in a cycle through the physical processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, surface runoff, and subsurface flow. Of course, there are just two examples and Earth also undergoes a carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the rock cycle, etc.
And in all of these natural cycles, the result is the same – no waste, no loss of energy, and a balanced, sustainable and circular system.
Contrast the Earth’s natural systems and processes to our own current commercial, industrial, and business processes.
Let’s take planned obsolesce for example, which is a good one because it is so detrimental to our planet and done by so many industries around the globe. This is a system where products are intentionally produced to rapidly deteriorate and break down, so that the consumer is forced to either buy replacement parts or a brand-new product.
In other words, products are designed intentionally to be non-durable and shitty so you must buy the next, slightly less shitty product when it comes out. Planned obsolesce is standard practice in various industries from cars, to computers, to smart phones, and even fast fashion. Sadly, the cost of the environment and the pollution and waste created from these practices is detrimental and quite obviously, non-sustainable.
Another example of non-sustainable business practices would be single use plastics. According to Earth Day.org, “Over 335 million metric tons of plastics are produced annually, and approx. half of all plastic produced will go toward a single use product.”
Think about that for a moment, over 165 million metric tons per year go towards producing something people will use for MINUTES and then can take over 450 years to biodegrade!
These are just the two most egregious examples, but honestly, I could go on and on because the vast majority of standard industrial and business processes around the world are highly unsustainable.
In short, most companies and products follow a standard linear product approach. Make. Take. Discard.
Truthfully, we’ve had this “chuck it, f*ck it” approach of disposal for the vast majority of goods we consume since the industrial revolution began.
However, in the defense of the original robber barons and titans of industry, the global risks to the environment were unknown, and secondly, the amount of production was peanuts compared to what it is globally today. Not to mention, we are approaching eight billion people on this planet, and when our first industrial revolution began there were less than one billion people.
We are now approaching (or perhaps, already in) a new industrial revolution. We will soon see self driving cards, 5G internet networks with unimaginably rapid speeds, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and more.
This upcoming revolution has the potential to create unimaginable wealth and prosperity for hundreds of millions of people, especially in the developing world. And it also has the potential to create huge amounts of wealth in the developed world, too.
However, as a species, we cannot do business the same way we did in the past.
If we do, inevitably, the planet will be discarding us as a species.
How does one change a linear model?
There's no simple solution here, but we discussed what a circular economy would look like HERE:
The first step, however, is thinking differently. Changing the way we view and perceive the world, and our relationship to it.
Since we speak so often of water on this blog (we consider ocean plastic and ocean pollution in general so detrimental because after all, the earth is ¾ water!), we thought one of the most famous Kung Fu Masters most famous quote on water would help:
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
In other words….ADAPT! BE OPEN MINDED!
And quite literately, our consumption and business practices must “be like water” and be sustainable and cyclical!