Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Industrial Ecology and the Future of Sustainability

Industrial Ecology has been defined as a "systems-based, multidisciplinary discourse that seeks to understand emergent behavior of complex integrated human/natural systems". The field approaches issues of sustainability by examining problems from multiple perspectives, usually involving aspects of sociology, the environment, economy and technology. The name comes from the idea that we should use the analogy of natural systems as an aid in understanding how to design sustainable industrial systems.

The good folks at GOOD (for people who give a damn) have published a story this week that makes my heart glad!  A former meatpacking plant in Chicago is being re-purposed as a self-sustaining vertical farm. Wait, there's more!  The Plant, as it is called, is focusing on becoming a net-zero waste facility.

Reduce, reuse, recycle...the 3 R's of sustainability.  Anyone who knows me, knows how excited I am. We have so many opportunities in this country (and around the world) to take abandoned, unused, buildings and make them useful again.

Farming in the inner city is a worthy goal, indeed, and this is just what the slow food movement is all about. Locally produced, healthy foods, grown in a sustainable fashion. Utilizing new processes as well as established traditions to create an environment that produces, food, jobs, and hope for the community.

“Industrial ecology—the concept of using other people’s waste as input—is fascinating. In nature, there’s no waste, but there is so much waste in human consumption and development,” says Melanie Hoekstra, The Plant's director of operations. “This is an obvious problem that we can resolve with a building that can do so many things. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s really close.”

Watch this video about the exciting things going on at The Plant.

Why not try your own sustainability project?  Here are some ideas:


Until next time...become the change you imagine.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Where Do iPhones Go to Die?

A reader forwarded a link to me for some feedback, and I was so impressed that I felt the need to share it. Thanks to Jen R. and her team for a great, and very pertinent, presentation on currently technology and it's effects on the waste stream.  Please feel free to leave comments, and let me know what you think.

The True Cost of an iPhone

Until next time...become the change you imagine.

P.S.  If you are interested in the effects of electronic waste, and possible solutions, I posted an article back in 2009 called Mining E-waste: The New Gold Rush? Check it out!