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The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability Paperback – June 3, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; Reprint edition (June 3, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887307043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887307041
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Paul Hawken, the entrepreneur behind the Smith & Hawken gardening supplies empire, is no ordinary capitalist. Drawing as much on Baba Ram Dass and Vaclav Havel as he does on Peter Drucker and WalMart for his case studies, Hawken is on a one-man crusade to reform our economic system by demanding that First World businesses reduce their consumption of energy and resources by 80 percent in the next 50 years. As if that weren't enough, Hawken argues that business goals should be redefined to embrace such fuzzy categories as whether the work is aesthetically pleasing and the employees are having fun; this applies to corporate giants and mom-and-pop operations alike. He proposes a culture of business in which the real world, the natural world, is allowed to flourish as well, and in which the planet's needs are addressed. Wall Street may not be ready for Hawken's provocative brand of environmental awareness, but this fine book is full of captivating ideas.

From Publishers Weekly

Hawken ( Growing a Business ) touches on a raw nerve here. How might millions of people live and work in a complex business environment while causing "as little suffering as possible to all and everything around us?" Hawken, no Luddite, believes that "we need a design for business that will ensure that the industrial world as it is presently constituted ceases and is replaced with human-centered enterprises that are sustainable producers." Avoiding stormy rhetoric, Hawken thoughtfully reviews ecological theories and disasters and insists that "ecology offers a way to examine all present economic and resource activities from a biological rather than a monetary point of view." Calling for a restorative economy, he proposes rational, achievable goals: stop "accelerating the rate that we draw down capacity"; refrain from "buying or degrading other people's environment"; and avoid displacing "other species by taking over their habitats." This noteworthy study should kindle debates within the business community.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Paul Hawken has written seven books published in over 50 countries in 29 languages including four national bestsellers, The Next Economy, Growing a Business, and The Ecology of Commerce, and Blessed Unrest. Natural Capitalism, co-authored with Amory Lovins, was read by several heads of state including Bill Clinton who called it one of the five most important books in the world. He has appeared on numerous media including the Today Show, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and been profiled in articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Washington Post, Business Week, and Esquire. His writings have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Resurgence, New Statesman, Inc, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Orion, and other publications. He founded several companies including the first food company in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods. He has served on the board of several environmental organizations including Point Foundation (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogs), Center for Plant Conservation, Trust for Public Land, and National Audubon Society.

Customer Reviews

Very interesting book and great read!
Vincent O. Johnson
It will create jobs, increase quality in the economy, increase market efficiency, and change our end-of-the-pipe focus on pollution.
Daniel Crews
He even thinks they can make money this way.
Ziv Rotblit

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Krystle, SelfmadeFarmer.com on April 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I first tried to read this book, I didn't even get past the first chapter. But when I picked it up again almost a year later, I absorbed it like a sponge. Even when I interviewed the president of a sustainable business for my website, SustainableWays.com, I found that the same thing happened to him. The fact of the matter is, this is an excellent book, but it's also somewhat of a pragmatic call to arms. It wasn't till I'd explored and developed my ideas about the environment and resolved to do something about it that I could fully appreciate this book. For someone who's still exploring their position on these issues, Paul Hawken's prescriptions for action will probably seem irrelevant and premature. But if your ideas are ripe and you're ready to put them to work, The Ecology of Commerce is an invaluable resource.
Before I read this book, I used to think that business and the environment were inherently at odds. But then I realized that this doesn't have to be the case. According to Hawken, the problem lies in our economic system's design, and no amount of management or programs is going to change that. In order to make things better, we're going to have to rethink our economic structure, and in that possibility is where Mr. Hawken finds hope. As he so eloquently put it:
"To create an enduring society, we will need a system of commerce and production where each and every act is inherently sustainable and restorative...Just as every action in an industrial society leads to environmental degradation, regardless of intention, we must design a system where the opposite is true, where doing good is like falling off a log, where the natural, everyday acts of work and life accumulate into a better world as a matter of course, not as a matter of conscious altruism." (Hawken, p.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is easily one of the top ten books on the pragmatic reality of what Herman Daly calls "ecological economics" (see my list of Environmental Security).

The author excels at painting a holistic view of the realities that are not being addressed by the media or by scholars in anything other than piecemeal fashion.

The bottom line: what we are doing now in the face of accelerating decay (changes and losses that used to take 10,000 years now take three years) is the equivalent of "trying to bail out the Titanic with teaspoons." On page 21-22 the author states that we are using 10,000 days of energy creation every day, or 27 years of energy each day.

This is a practical book. In brief, we can monetize the costs of the decay, we can show people the *real* cost of each product and in this way inspire both boycotts (of wasteful products) and boycotts (Jim Turner's term) of solar energy and long-lasting repairable products.

The author appears to be both pro-business and very wise in seeing that the cannot save the environment by destroying business, but rather must save business so it can save the environment--we must help business understand that doing more with less is what they must do to survive.

The author includes a recurring theme from the literature, that diversity is an option generator, and hence one of the most precious aspects of life on Earth. Diversity is the ultimate source of wealth, and anything that reduces diversity is impoverishing the planet and mankind. In a magnificent turn of phrase, the author states that the loss of a species is the loss of a biological library.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
It seems some are skeptical of Hawken's book because his ideas are too radical and no one will actually adopt his idealist suggestions. But this is the first book I've read that has made concrete suggestions that please both the business world and the environment. Yes it's radical, but the world is soon going to require radical solutions. I loved this book and admire his ingenuity.
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Format: Paperback
Our planet is threatened on the one side by pressures of overpopulation and on the other side by pressures of nearly exhausted natural resources and pollution that are threatening to make our world uninhabitable. Paul Hawken does a masterful job of explaining the problems we face and suggesting creative solutions to these problems.

Hawken points out that our pursuit of material gain has grown to be such an accepted goal and one that has been so successful for the industrial nations of the world, that it is difficult for most people to realize that the western standard of living cannot be sustained much longer.

Hawken suggests that it is entirely possible to create companies that are profitable but do not destroy the environment - either directly or indirectly. The problem in most Western countries is the limited vision of environmental proponents. They are doing a good job addressing recycling and reducing pollution, but are missing crucial broader principles.

Hawken recommends taxation on pollution. Hawken cautions that the public must stand vigilant guard on issues of protecting the environment, because our government is run by those who have vested interests in corporate profits rather than in the general good of all.

This is an outstanding book about healing our environment, the conduct of business, governmental management of both - and most importantly, about healing our indifference to the crises of planetary pollution and our limited healing of these problems. This book is very highly recommended - despite its publication a dozen years ago.
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