Monday, July 8, 2013

On My GREEN Nightstand - The Upcycle

The stack of books on my nightstand keeps growing (to the point that I had to make 2 stacks - the bigger pile is on the lower shelf!)  It's an interesting mix though.  I love to read.  I wish I had more time to do so.

The GREEN book I'm reading is The Upcycle (Beyond Sustainability - Designing for Abundance) by William McDonough & Michael Braungart.

The book starts with this one statement, alone on a page:  "The goal of the upcycle is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy, and just world with clean air, water, soil, and power - economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed."  It is followed by a forward written by President Bill Clinton.

Though I did not read it's predecessor, Cradle to Cradle, the book takes the ideas from Cradle to Cradle as a foundation and builds on them, based on the experience of putting the ideas from the first book to work.  The premise is a simple idea, really, that can be used by each of us all the way up to big corporations: moving from the idea of being "less bad" to the planet to being part of the natural cycle of regenerating it.  So not just the ideas of reuse & reduce, but design it better in the first place so you don't create waste to begin with.  "Eco-effectiveness can actually create endless resourcefulness."

This book is optimistic, thought-provoking, and for me, inspiring.  "Upcycling eliminates the concept of waste."  That's a big idea.  Let's not aim for just doing less damage to the earth, but let's find ways to turn opportunities into abundance.  Let's be creative and find solutions.  Let's thrive.  Let's make things healthful instead of less dangerous.  The caveat: finding a substitute takes work and time.  It takes innovation and values.

Of course reading this brings me to GREEN living in a real estate perspective, from the design and wellness elements.  As a GREEN Certified Realtor ® I always look at real estate from that perspective (well, ok, that and resale value!)  For example, last weekend I was showing a tiny condo.  The whole place fit into my kitchen, and had very little natural light or ventilation.  The buyers were really attracted to the very low price tag but I was worried this wasn't the kind of place that felt healthful or where they could thrive.  It was so poorly designed.  The price tag absolutely reflected it.  I was completely relieved when they called back that night to say they had decided not to put in an offer.

My favorite parts of the book are the examples the authors share of how and where creative solutions came about and the big focus is energy.  It's the kind of book that makes you think.  Happy Reading!

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