Yesterday, we enjoyed our last discussion
on the book Cradle to Cradle; Remaking the Way We Make Things.
It gave us a good understanding
of what the things in our homes and offices
are made of,
why they are designed the way they are
and how the products and the waste they make
is toxic to the environment.
And we were glad to discover in the last chapter
that there are designers and corporations
that are designing and manufacturing materials
that not only will not be waste
but can actually be used to help the planet.
For instance, instead of styrofoam,
packing materials are being made out of biodegradable
and soil-enriching materials,
like rice husks
and mushrooms.
The book itself is not made from trees,
but plastic resins and inorganic fillers
that can be broken down and used again
infinitely.
It was exciting to learn of major corporations—
like Nike and Ford—
that are working with environmental designers.
When Ford discovered contamination of the soil
at some of its plants,
it focused on “create healthy soil”
rather than “clean up”
and is exploring using green plants, mushrooms and fungi
to remove toxins from the soil,
create healthy soil
and a place where employees’ children to play safely.
A new plant design includes
a green roof capable of holding two inches of rain water
and porous parking lots that absorb and store water
which seeps into a marsh where plants purify the water
that travels then through plant-filled swales
into a river, “clear and clean.”

The health of the site is measured not in terms of meeting minimum government-imposed standards but with respect to things like the number of earthworms per cubic foot of soil, the diversity of birds and insects on the land and of aquatic species in a nearby river, and the attractiveness of the site to local residents.

While much of Cradle to Cradle
 is hard to read because we are faced with realizing
how toxic our environment is—
it’s quite disturbing to learn the number of chemicals
in shampoo
and the off-gassing from the materials in our homes.
Yet, it’s necessary to understand the world we live in
and have created
and it’s hopeful to know
that there are designers designing
environmentally-friendly and human-friendly
products now.

Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World

 

The next book we will discuss is
Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World,
by Alan Weisman.
It’s a story of sustainability—
struggle, commitment,
community, creativity and solutions.
We’ll discuss the “Overture”
and first 56 pages of Part One
at 10 a.m. Monday, February 6.
If you’d like,
you may also bring a brown bag lunch
and hang around the farm,
maybe walk the labyrinth.
Let us know you’re coming.