Title: [GreenYes] Re: throw-away society
"Materials flow" referred to here is not just the stuff we buy. It's all
upstream waste created to produce stuff -- the book says "North American
materials flow", so I don't know whether it includes imported goods. But
either way, it's helps demonstrate the need for addressing the source of the
Annie mentions it in her film www.storyofstuff.com, and it's originally from
Natural Capitalism, the citation Bill shared, on page 81 of this website:
Here's the excerpt from the Natural Capitalism:
"In short, the whole concept of industry's dependence on ever faster
once-through flow of materials from depletion to pollution is turning
from a hallmark of progress into a nagging signal of uncompetitiveness.
It's dismaying enough that, compared with their theoretical
potential, even the most energy-efficient countries are only a few percent
energy-efficient. It's even worse that only one percent of the total
North American materials flow ends up in, and is still being used
within, products six months after their sale. That roughly one percent
materials efficiency is looking more and more like a vast business
opportunity. But this opportunity extends far beyond just recycling
bottles and paper, for it involves nothing less than the fundamental
redesign of industrial production and the myriad uses for its products.
The next business frontier is rethinking everything we consume: what it
does, where it comes from, where it goes, and how we can keep on getting
its service from a net flow of very nearly nothing at all-but ideas."
Best wishes, Monica
From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address] On Behalf
Of Dan Knapp
Sent: Friday, September 26, 2008 12:17 PM
To: Bill Sheehan
Cc: Helen Spiegelman; GreenYes subscribers; Mark Gorrell; Mary Lou Van
Subject: [GreenYes] Re: throw-away society
Hello Bill and Helen:
With all due respect to GRRN and its good work, the 1% figure is a
fantasy, I think.
What is the "total North American materials flow" anyway? Does it
include the mountains of imported goods? Is it all manufacturing
done in the USA? Or something else? The GRRN "factoid" (mutated
fact?) that you cite on its face is a strange combination of
vagueness and specificity. We don't know what is being measured, but
by golly we're certain it stands at 1% survival after six months of
use! What this says to me is that someone is making up crap.
Not that making up crap is always bad. On my 65th birthday some dear
friends gave me a card with a license to make up crap, which I had
been doing for some time anyway as a freelancer. But even with my
license I do it in jest, and I always let people know I've done it
whether it works or not.
Junk science in the service of good goals is still junk science.
Washers, dryers, cars, trucks, silverware, pots and pans, furniture,
airplanes, linens, clothing: does total North American materials
flow include these categories, all of which are churned out and sold
in massive volumes but are far more durable?
Urban Ore has doors in its inventory that are more than a century
old. Of our total inventory of maybe 6,000 doors, the number of
doors less than six months old might be somewhere between !% and 3%.
The other 97% is older. And new doors aren't all inferior to old
ones. Some well-built new doors will last longer than a hundred
years assuming humans are not rejected by the biosphere first.
Windows are a different story; our inventory might have in it as much
as 10% that are less than six months old. Windows have become
Or go hang out at any refuse transfer station or landfill open to the
public. My guess is that the total "product" being dumped as mixed
waste that is less than six months old might be on the order of
35%. Probably half or more is packaging; the products are
elsewhere. The other 65% dumped as mixed waste is older, often much
older. The stuff that is recycled at that same transfer station or
landfill is probably newer than the overall flow to landfill, but
that's a seat-of-the-pants guess.
I believe the citation Helen refers to may be from Annie Leonard in
her DVD "The Story of Stuff".
Urban Ore, Inc., defeating incinerators since 1982 with good science
and arresting imagery; currently working on landfills
On Sep 25, 2008, at 5:13 PM, Bill Sheehan wrote:
> Does this work?:
> 1 = Percent of the total North American materials flow that ends up
> in, and
> is still being used within, products six months after their sale.
> Item #4 from the GRRN Zero Waste Briefing Kit, Facts and Figures at
> Source: Natural Capitalism, p 81
> In Chapter 3, downloadable at http://www.natcap.org/sitepages/
> /Bill Sheehan
> -----Original Message-----
> From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address]
> On Behalf
> Of Helen Spiegelman
> Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 7:39 PM
> To: GreenYes@no.address
> Subject: [GreenYes] throw-away society
> Hi all ~
> Someone recently threw out a factoid about the products we buy ~
> to the effect that X percent of the products we use become waste in
> than X minutes/hours/days....
> Anyone remember seeing this?
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