6 Green Lessons We Can Learn From Communism


4. Facilitate Public Service Systems


No capitalist business model is more communist in practice than public service systems (PSS). Even Marx would've approved of PSS. A good example is the library—it has a vast selection of products that you have access to, but nobody owns any of them. Or rather, everyone owns all of them. The books are there at your disposal. You have access to them when you need them; and only when you need them. Other PSS include operations like the woefully underused tool libraries.


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5. Living Efficiently is of Great Importance


One look at those gigantic tenement buildings built in the 70s in Eastern Europe and Russia will tell you all you need to know: it's all about efficiency. And soul-crushing obliteration of the human spirit. Yes, those tenements may have been supremely unpleasant to live in (and to look at now) but there's nonetheless a green lesson to be learned from them: forget frivolous opulence, and make your living quarters efficient.

We can, after all, create more efficient housing without covering the building's facades in multiple coats of oppression. There are ways to develop appealing housing that's simultaneously energy efficient and life-affirming. And apartment buildings and condos require less land and less infrastructure, and gather more people together, which often results in communities where walking and public transportation use is encouraged. Take this solar powered apartment complex for example; it isn't just for the wealthy, but rather serves as green affordable housing. It shows there is a green, communal way forward that doesn't have to sacrifice style or class.

If the depressing, massive gray tenements you might find in Bucharest or Kiev represent unchecked communism, then consider what unchecked capitalism yields: resource-hogging McMansions. Let's take a cue not from the communists' décor or design, but the principle: let's make our housing more efficient.


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6. Workers of the World, Unite!


The famous communist rallying cry could also be heard as a call for all those who work to save the environment to cooperate and coordinate their efforts—after all, the change has to come from the ground up. And so far, for the most part it has. Those who've been in the trenches—environmental orgs as diverse as Greenpeace and the National Resource Defense Council, pioneering eco journalists like Rachel Carson, and especially everyday folks who've long voiced their concern about the welfare of the environment—are the real reasons business practices and political policies get changed for the better.

A variation of the slogan, "Workers of all lands, unite," which is actually inscribed on Marx's tombstone, seems even more on target.

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Tags: Consumerism | Dematerialization | Economics | Environmental Footprint