Only Working In the Shallow End

Carbohydrate Economy, what exactly does that mean, that our world revolves around eating carbs (seems that way sometimes)?  It really is not a new concept at all, it is actually one of the oldest types of economies around.  Less then 200 years ago our society used more plant materials then minerals!  But what we are seeing today is praise for companies who promote they are using a 20% based soy foam or using coconut husk to reinforce petroleum based plastics.  While there may be some people who find this an honorable feat, I do not. If people were genius enough hundreds of years ago to understand the value, durability, and possibilities of carbohydrates, it shouldn’t be something that is seen as new and brilliant today.

I’m not trying to say that it isn’t commendable that companies such as Ford are using carbohydrate based products; I’m just saying that it should be a common sense everyday practice to use things that mother nature has provided us and can continue so in a healthy manner.  I question, if Ford can use 20% soy based foam, why can’t that percentage be higher? Why can’t we be using at least 50% soy based foam on every cushioned area of the vehicle and not just the headrest?

I tend to feel frustration when I learn about “new” ways in which we can use natural renewable materials and greener practices, only to realize that these materials and practices were already put to use decades ago.  There are times in which I question if we would have maybe been better off in the Industrial Revolution never happened, or happened much later, when we could have been more aware of the impacts we were making to the environment.

So while I think it is great that companies such as Ford and John Deere are making small steps towards more biological materials, I think they should really go full force into their commitment.  I feel that no one really can succeed or make a difference by being timid and staying in the shallow end.

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One comment

  1. I fully understand the frustration expressed in this article. I recently felt the same when I saw Project 7’s chewing gum and mint campaign where for every pack you buy, a fruit tree is planted. What got me was not the message of the campaign, but that each package was labelled as being made “with 10% recycled plastic”. I felt this sort of counteracted gains from the campaign to some extent. If 10% is recycled, where is the other 90 coming from? And why is more than 10% not feasible? It bothered me that a program touting equity and sustainability had this fatal chink in the armor that made them just lose credibility in my eyes.

    While there are a number of companies that flaunt what little gains they make in the sustainable front, there are an increasing number of companies that are really pushing this idea and examining what it is to be a sustainable company. Economist Pavan Sukhdev has been a prime backer for the UNEP’s (United Nations Environment Program) Green Economy Initiative. Within that, Sukhdev created the TEEB, a global study on “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity”, which essentially puts quantifiable economic value on natural systems and states that, rather than being a burden to growth, natural systems are an engine of growth. This allows for said systems to be given real weight in economic decisions.

    PUMA shoe company is the first corporation to do a company-wide report along these lines. Called the Environmental Profit and Loss Account (E P&L), the report seeks to expose the most substantial environmental impacts the company has from material extraction all the way up the supply chain. This then allows the company to find ways to mitigate these damages. Hopefully PUMA serves as a model to other corporations and that companies with a wide-cast net and huge impacts globally will be able to undo some of the damage they have caused, while still finding ways to produce goods and services at a high quality.

    Sources:

    http://www.project7.com/causes/save/
    http://safe.puma.com/us/en/2011/05/puma-announces-results-of-unprecedented-environmental-profit-loss/

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