I’ve just finished the book Natural Capitalism. It’s pretty rare for me to make it to the end of any business book; 9 times out of 10 the second halves are just a reheated version of the first chapters. Not this time.
The book is great, packed with fascinating examples and is both alarming in its exposition of the threat of climate change and resource depletion yet profoundly optimistic in outlook, citing countless innovations that could turn things round.
Central to the book is the idea of putting some value on the earth’s natural resources, something conventional economics is terrible at doing. Hardly unreasonable, you might think.
Likewise, there’s an attractive logic to its advocacy of resource efficiency and the aim of elminating waste. In nature, it argues, there is no waste, because everything output in one place is used up someplace else. Yet the last hundred years or so of human progress, for all the benefits they have brought, seem to have violated this principle with far reaching consequences.
The exposition of the vast amounts of material and energy consumed to keep one American (and I daresay anyone else in the developed world) in clothes, food and transport was shocking. I was fascinated by the detailed story of the effort involved in delivering a few mouthfuls of carbonated, sugary water to me in a can (AKA Coca Cola). This certainly made me feel like not buying another one.
I’m left reflecting on how marketing could step up to the plate and support radical resource efficiency. It certainly isn’t very efficient in its use of most people’s limited amount of attention.
And am I alone is asking myself: shouldn’t I be increasingly picky about the sorts of products and services I want to put my own time and effort into promoting…