I’ve had my share of name calling working in the environmental field over the years. They’ve ranged from “Nut” to “Professor”. Concepts that I’ve proposed have been met with resistance and laughter. One of my favorites was when I was describing the process of thermo-chemical technology, which helps convert waste materials into biofuels such as ethanol. Its technology is able to process diverse carbon-based feedstocks, including sorted municipal solid waste. I was quickly told that Buck Rogers didn’t work here and that feedstocks were what we feed the cows back home. But, guess what? A little over a year later a leading waste company announced a strategic investment in a company with a proprietary thermo-chemical technology!
I’ll admit that I smiled when I read that press release.
For me this was another example in a long line of experiences that demonstrated how individuals react to new concepts that challenge the status quo. They can ignore the issue, change the subject, use denial or just laugh.
Urban Mining, for me, is another example of a concept that challenges the status quo. Continue reading
A lot has been mentioned in the past few weeks about innovation and the importance of innovation. President Obama told us that we had to out-innovate the rest of the world, consultants and business leaders are calling on companies to step to the plate and increase innovation. But, what does that really mean?
Merriam-Webster defines innovation as: the introduction of something new, a new idea, method or device.
Does it mean that we need better products or does it mean we need better processes or does it mean that we need both?
Based on the old adage, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve been getting”; I believe that it means, both. Not a very Ivy League definition I know, but it does hold true.
So, this brings us to where we are today. Companies are looking around and wondering what they can do that will differentiate their products or services. They know that they need to change, but the where and how, seems just out of reach. Continue reading
I was asked recently if this sustainability movement was over. I have to admit I was puzzled by the question. I asked my friend what he meant? He said, “You know, the leaked climate change emails, the Copenhagen meltdown,the head of the U.N. Climate Chief resigned, and BP, Caterpillar and ConocoPhillips not renewing their memberships in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. With all this bad news doesn’t that make you think that this sustainability thing has ran its course?”
That’s when it hit me. He thinks sustainability is only about climate change!
I was in a meeting recently and one of the designers in the room said “I think we should use the newest approach to design, biomimicry.” I almost fell out of my chair. “Newest approach?” This approach isn’t new. Da Vinci studied birds in flight to better understand how man could fly.
I didn’t say anything, and trust me, that took great restraint. I caught myself and realized that with all of the recent “green” and “sustainability” buzz going around some people were just now getting exposed to this and other sustainable development concepts.
Which brings us to today’s blog, “What is Biomimicry?”.
I’ve written about sustainability and its impacts for and on big business and large organizations in the past. I’ve tried to keep the topics focused on how sustainability can help them adjust or modify their policies, practices and procedures.
So, indulge me for a minute here. Too often we get caught up in the “Big Picture” of corporate activities and lose sight of the millions of little companies that are out there working every day to help us keep this economy turning.
On a recent business trip I stumbled on one such company, and it made me stop and think about the importance that these guys have on helping to create truly sustainable local communities and economies.
Growing up in the United States I’ve heard America referred to as “The Land of Plenty” or “The Disposable Society”. The quote “Go West young man” was often said to me as a young man, maybe jokingly or perhaps they were serious, while I was wondering what to do as I grew up. (And before you email, yes, the quote first appeared as the title to the 1851, Terre Haute Express editorial written by Mr. Soule and is often credited to Mr. Greeley.)
These expressions implied to me that we were living in a limitless country. Free to use what we wanted, expand as we wanted with no thought to where the next supply of “stuff” was coming from. Continue reading