The marine biologist Rachel Carson wrote simply and prophetically that, “In nature, nothing exists alone.”
The other summer, I was rafting on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. I was struck by the extent to which the hillsides were denuded, having been ravaged by forest fires. For my rafting guide, the explanation for these fires was simple: consequence and connectivity. The dams built on the river in the 70s and 80s meant that the salmon were no longer travelling upstream (in spite of the salmon ladders). No salmon, no bears. No bears, no scat, no salmon bones or scales being deposited throughout the forest. The forest, as a result, is more prone to fire. We would do well to take heed of nature.
On a similar note we should learn from nature that everything is reused, nothing is wasted.
To the disbelief of my children, Chris Evans was talking about how you used to rent TVs from a radio rental company. Their incredulity was not just why you would get a TV from a radio company – an anomaly of precedent – but that you didn’t own your TV.
But that is the very problem of society today – ownership. We want to own everything from televisions to books, from radios to fridges. There is little incentive to share, repair or re-use. We merely upgrade and the consequence of that materialism is waste. Where do we think it goes?
If you are interested to know more on this subject then I would recommend Paul Hawken’s brilliant and thought-provoking ‘The Ecology of Commerce’.
Hawken’s illustrates the need for the economic system to mimic the cycle of nature where the waste in one step becomes the food in another step. It is in this type of ecosystem that there would be no waste as everything is recycled. Instead, our industrial processes have become very linear, resulting in a great deal of waste.