Yesterday we posted about the Global Eco-Forum, an event about responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, held this week in Barcelona, Spain, organised by the local group Eco-Union. The conference held interesting debates by Gunter Pauli from the Zeri Foundation, Francesco Tonucci from The City of Children project, sustainable architect Livia Tirone and many others you can read about in our article about the Global Eco-Forum. There was however one special guest who deserves a bit more mentioning. His name: Michael Braungart, scientist and co-founder of the Cradle to Cradle concept.
Here a few very amusing and interesting quotes.
If you, designers, architects, scientists, etc., don't want to be an idiot, do something against the climate crisis. It's not about sustainability, it's about innovations, about doing good,
He also made a point by urging us to "define what's in it (the product), not what it's free of". The example he gave was the EU banning lead from TVs, which now are lead-free but still contain plenty of other toxins we are unaware of. The user however only sees what it doesn't contain and feels safe.
When it comes to carpets, Braungart prefers the synthetic ones (without toxins of course) that can be recycled in the technosphere, because "a sheep is not designed to be a carpet", especially if it involved red wine stains. 100% natural is therefore not always 100% sustainable (or 'good' as Braungart would say).
Braungart then launched into the concept of guilt related to sustainability: consume less, use less, etc. and joked with a few example of how we could cut CO2 emissions (through farting less) as well as use less water:
We think we are bad for the planet. We should not go to Spanish or Mexican restaurants because of the methane emission, and, cut our hair shorter.
Of course Braungart doesn't believe that; he's all for abundance as long as we create everything from Cradle to Cradle.
He called Al Gore's urge to 'stabilise the population' Nazi language, and illustrated his believe that we are not too many on this planet with the example of how ants live which you can read in Lloyd's previous article Braungart on Population. (Yes, we know, Mr Brangart does recycle his jokes, you might even consider calling it upcycling.) According to this German scientist, "we are not too many, just stupid. We have to re-organise ourselves because we have a design problem."
In Cradle to Grave design (=traditional design that doesn't take into account recycling due to a linear life cycle), Braungart explains "the target is zero waste (which in the end is still waste); consume less; best if you're not at all. But that's not very attractive, is it?" When he and William McDonough started talking about Cradle to Cradle they wanted to call it 'food = food' but because no one understood, they called it 'waste= food'.
Another peculiar but true point Braungart made is the fact that the Spanish romanticise nature (and therefore are far from being sustainable), whereas the Dutch don't feel guilty about using Mother Nature (but got very far already applying Cradle to Cradle). Braungart praised the Dutch, especially the city of Venlo, where Cradle to Cradle is almost a part of daily life now. He explains how the Dutch don't feel guilty about using nature because they have been taking from the sea for many years. They know how to work with nature, otherwise the next flood would take them, and they also know how to work as a community due to the communal responsibility of the dikes, where you depend on your neighbour.
In Spain he believes, people have a guilt management and feel bad of what has happened to nature. This causes a barrier to except Cradle to Cradle; it's a cultural problem he says. On the other hand, Americans have come up with great sustainable solutions in the past years because their government did nothing. Braungart is certain that it's better that way because if governments take small initiatives, people don't (like in Europe).
In a friendly way, Braungart picked on Gunter Pauli who shared the stage with him, for talking about Biomimicry as a tool for better design solutions. Braungart doesn't think nature can help us, and believes even less in efficiency. He asked a woman from the audience, who previously raised a question, to imagine that he was in love with her. "Now, would you want me to be efficient? he asked further. Well, maybe she would