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Sustainability by Design: A Subversive Strategy for Transforming Our Consumer Culture Hardcover – September 23, 2008
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About the Author
John R. Ehrenfeld, who before his retirement was affiliated with the MIT Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development and the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering, now serves as executive director of the International Society for Industrial Ecology and is senior research scholar at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In 1999 he became the first recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Resources Institute. He lives in Lexington, MA.
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Top customer reviews
This is a necessary book for those truly interested in "true sustainability." The major use of the term sustainability in today's culture refers to incremental changes made by corporations to make their products, processes and services less wasteful (doing good) while also saving money and earning additional revenue (doing well). But incremental changes by companies, while necessary (to buy time) is insufficient if the consumer mindset is not also changed. Our current mindset or mental model drives growth, the true underlying problem behind sustainability. Technology changes make short-run positive benefits, but as every system dynamics modeler knows, without tackling the underlying problem of growth such technology changes merely enable growth to proceed further. To the extent that people believe "the hype behind going green" then the current sustainability initiatives by companies can actually make the problem worse, ... by diverting attention away from the necessary changes required in our own consuming and cultural behavior.
Ehrenfeld lays out the deep intellectual basis for our future sustainability mindset. So, if you are not "up to" deep reflecting on our current culture, if you want a quick fix or the 5-steps your company can take now to be more profitable then don't buy this book. On the other hand, if you are searching for answers and want to have a better understanding of the true problem then this book should be a part of your collection. In fact, Ehrenfeld also goes a step further and supplies a path to change through the enhanced design of products (and institutional design issues). Both the underpinning of the current consumer mindset and the new path are well researched with a rich set of references.
In summary, this is not your typical sustainability book. But, it will be found on the bookshelves of all of the critical thinkers who will help move sustainability forward.