S U S T A I N A B L Y

Where is the line, between environment and us?

Nobody admirers a hijacker, so I’m being imprecise, at best, when I opine that “environmentalists have hijacked sustainability.” I don’t meant to impute evil at all — hell, until very recently, I’d have self-identified as one, and our aims still essentially align. And I don't mean it literally.


Extract the goodness, to put some of it back

When I was a kid, and maybe still today (I don’t care enough to look it up), Wonder Bread touted that it “buil[t] strong bodies 12 ways.” What was really going on is that its food technologists had started with grain products of nature, “refined” it beyond recognition, and then tossed in a bunch of nutritive additives to make up for what they had taken out. In effect they were saying, “look at all the goodness we’ve added, so you won’t notice all the goodness we took out.”


Wendell Berry and Allan Savory, brothers to me

A central part of the message I deliver to audiences is that nature is the only teacher of sustainability we will ever need. It’s been sustaining life on earth for 3.8 billion years, while humans have been upright only for about 200,000 years; the experience gap is obvious.

 I am not, of course, the originator of this idea, that humans are part of nature, not apart and certainly not above it, and the most prudent direction for all of us is to follow nature’s lead. I wouldn’t cast that as an absolute, but only because absolutes are bad every time.


Freedom's just another word for not being able to lose*

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concepts of “restriction” vs. “freedom.” For me, of course, the context is often around how to eat.

It is a given of RD orthodoxy (“registered dietitian,” but could perhaps also stand for“really dogmatic”) that “deprivation diets don’t work,” meaning that people won’t follow a restrictive diet, so we shouldn’t ask/advise/expect them to. People want to be free to eat whatever they want, right?


"Leading indicators of accelerating progress"

Jim Hartzfeld, a key figure in the rise of Interface, the Ray Anderson-founded carpet company and sustainability engine, offers these "leading indicators of accelerating progress" (closely paraphrased): It's as much about intuition as it is about calculation, about introspection regarding your own story instead of persuading someone else, about learning than being the expert, collaboration more than debate, humility rather than hubris, and always about challenging the conventional thinking, even if it was your idea originally.


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