The issue of sustainability has gained more and more media coverage over recent decades. The immense amount of waste being generated across the whole planet, the climate crisis, deforestation, and the loss of animal and plant species, are all problems that require a compromise, between economic and technological development on the one hand, and a world no longer able to cope with the modern lifestyles of billions of people on the other. These issues are analysed and studied across many different fields, from architecture to literature, and ecological thinking, which analyses new forms of sustainable interactions between humans and nature, is on the rise. This is still an undeveloped area, however, which requires constantly new proposals, ideas, drafts, and often conflicting visions of the future.
William McDonough and Michael Braungart are two prominent names in this field, and have written some of the most eye-opening books on a form of sustainable development that differs from the most radical solutions such as primitivism, which entirely rejects modern living, while proposing growth-oriented and business-friendly socio-economic models. Their manifesto, The Hannover Principles, describes their take on ecological thinking, which focuses on eliminating the very concept of the word waste, optimising design in product planning, and making the best use of energy, in order to foster economic growth.
In The Upcycle, they stress that we urgently need to find solutions that are not only sustainable but that are also able to continue creating wealth. Many companies have now joined the fight to do just this, and their significant human and capital resources allow for real progress in the right direction. Even just one declaration of intent from a multinational company sends a strong message, and pushes many others to take action. Other companies, however, still practise greenwashing, meaning that they take a seemingly ecological stance, which is not then reflected in production processes. According to the authors, we should try not to become discouraged, but focus on the system as a whole.