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Learnings from a crash course in sustainability

March 29, 2011


Last Saturday I was fortunate enough to attend a “Crash Course in Sustainability” put on by the Center for Sustainable Design Studies at the Pratt institute. It was great to hear presentations from- Smart, Fuse Project, BBMG and various Pratt faculty members.

Here were some of my key highlights.

1. Ecology

It’s book-keeping for nature and is all about balance.
How come it’s so hard for business to get, it’s the same deal?

2. Biomimicry

Nature inspired innovation includes- Velcro inspired by the hooks on grass seeds and new turbine blades inspired by the fins of humpback whales

3. Internal Collaboration is the Starting Point

Triggered by the push to innovate, companies are learning how to collaborate internally for the very first time- this is leading to greater receptivity around the issue of sustainability

4. B Corp Certification

B Corp seems like a good place to start for people who want to get measured and credit for their positive efforts. 370 certified B-Corporations  and 3K using B standards.

5. We are “Chemotrphic” Organisms

Our dependence on oil and coal makes us so. For a more sustainable future, we need to become “Phototropic”.

6. Bio-Fuels Aren’t Great

Those looking for alternatives to oil are increasingly turning to bio-fuels, but the highly intensive farming methods required, mean that too much energy is used to produce them.

7. The Numbers Don’t Add Up

You don’t need to be a genius to work out that the numbers don’t make sense.

2000-2050- Population growth 50%
2000-2050- 300% increase in energy consumption
2000-2050- 500% increase in economic activity

8. Less About New Stuff

We should be thinking less about creating new stuff, instead we need to think about how to do more with less and with the resources we have.

9. Health is The Thing

People will get the need for sustainability and for companies to reduce their impact when they finally see the relationship it has to their health and their children’s health.

10. A New Name for Consumers

It means people who “lay waste to things”, so surely it’s time for a re-definition?

Posted by Ed Cotton

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