Throwaway stuff

Written by Lester Brown

Two concepts that emerged during the mid-twentieth century have shaped the evolution of the global economy--planned obsolescence and throwaway products. Both were seized o­n enthusiastically in the Untied States after World War II as a way of promoting economic growth and employment. The faster things wore out and the sooner they could be thrown away, the faster the economy would grow.

Building an eco-economy depends o­n restructuring the materials economy because--like the energy economy--it is in conflict with the earth's ecosystem. Arcchitect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart talk about doing this. They describe an economy that is regenerative rather than depletive, o­ne whose products "work with cradle-to-cradle life cycles rather than cradle-to-grave ones." In effect, this redesign means replacing the current linear flow-through model with a circular one that emulates nature, o­ne that closes the loop. It means replacing mining industries with recycling industries, a step that will allow a mature, industrial economy with a stable population to live largely o­n the materials already in use.

Lester Brown, Eco-Economics, p.123.

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