Environmental Ethics Economics vs Morality

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  • Topic: William McDonough, Sustainability, Mitt Romney
  • Pages : 6 (2041 words )
  • Download(s) : 36
  • Published : March 3, 2013
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Holly Mangina
Cradle to Cradle Reflection
The cradle to cradle idea is a view where things are designed without the concept of waste, which are eco-effective and consider the whole. The whole is the economy, the environment, culture, and humans. Instead of trying to conquer the environment we should be working with it. Thoughtful design and innovation of a new infrastructure that doesn't just reduce harm, but eliminates it.

Our industry is designed and based on economic value that relies on the environment for natural capital. We use valuable resources to design products to be thrown away. All of the value spent extracting the material and the cost of production are all now wasted. Even biodegradable waste is unable to decompose because it is sitting in a landfill (McDonough and Braungart 27). Not only are products designed to be wasted, but they are made out harmful chemicals and substances that effect both humans and the environment.

It took until the 1990s, after many warnings, for the industry to realize the effect it has on the environment. The new strategy for industry was eco-efficiency. The idea was to transform the industry by integrating economic, environmental, and ethical values in its operations. The idea appealed to many businesses because of its economic benefits. As part of their plans to become eco-efficient they start the use of the 4R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, and regulate (McDonough and Braungart 53). Many of our conventional environmental views are based on this flawed concept. Reducing the use of resources does not stop depletion it only prolongs its destruction. Reusing materials can often be harmful to the environment. Practices such as using sludge from sewer waste as fertilizer is extremely harmful for plants because of the high level of phosphates. Recycling or down-cycling is the reduction of the quality of material overtime (McDonough and Braungart 53). The amount of energy and waste produced from remaking materials is often more than producing a new one. Regulations are essentially a license to harm. It's a permit that allows industries to dispense sickness, destruction, and death at an acceptable rate. Regulation is a sign of design failure because good design would require no regulations (McDonough and Braungart 61). Eco-efficiency is a noble effort that may alleviate guilt, but is more a concept of illusion then real change. It doesn't really solve any problem and makes pollution less noticeable, which makes it harder to detect and stop. Eco-efficiency is not the solution, and should only be used as tool for transition to effective policies.

There needs to be shift from conventional environmental policies to a new different way of thinking. Both products and their industries should be designed to be effective. To be eco-effective means working on the right things, products, and systems instead of trying to make things that are wrong a little less bad (McDonough and Braungart 76 ). Products should be designed while considering all aspects and eliminating the concept of waste. They should be made out of high quality materials that are easy to reclaim after their use. The continuous battle between environmentalist and the industry makes it seem like the value of one must be sacrificed for the other. Being effective doesn't mean scaling down the industry and hiding its presence, but designing a better and new industry that flows with the environment.

Since effective design considers all aspect of a products use, the technical and biological metabolism of a product becomes an important consideration. The biological and technical metabolism is a concept where products are made to naturally decompose, or made in way that the industry can use later without a loss of quality. The theory of changing the industry from selling products to providing product services is good example of an effective model. Instead of purchasing certain items and discarding them after their use, people would...
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