Michael Braungart bumper stickers

Posted on August 31, 2008


Michael Braungart is in NZ for the Better-by-Design CEO summit. He was in an interview with Kim Hill on Saturday (audio from RNZ). Kim did a fabulous job and the interview was highly entertaining. Braungart must face a lot of inane questions from other interviewers, at the end of the interview he thanked her her for the quality of the questioning. He also managed a great line of humility, bravado and humour (questioning the sustainability of her relationships completely floored Kim).

Braungart mused that much of his message is difficult to put on bumper stickers. He came close though:

Time to reinvent everything

Trying to be less bad not good.

Sustainable doesn’t mean do same thing over and over again

You won’t save the world by drinking champaign with small bubbles

Recycling is only good in short term – like bailing out titanic with dessert spoon instead of teaspoon

Traditional recycling not useful as things not are designed for recycling, instead they get down cycled

We want to listen to the radio, not own hazardous waste in radio

Move beyond guilt management: your footprint cannot be zero, instead try to be beneficial

Keep the biosphere and technosphere separate

Add intelligence so things can become technical nutrients forever

Bush did right: he clearly said “I am an idiot”, this put responsibility in individual’s hands.

No waste: just technical nutrient management

When you do something wrong, don’t make it perfect.

Think about your footprint being beneficial, not just less bad.

I hadn’t realised how much I had been influenced by Cradle-to-Cradle. I’ve long argued that we’re barking up the wrong tree (focusing on energy saving in data centres etc without looking at wider impacts). Clearly there are implications for hardware business models (buying service rather than servers etc), but the potential to be beneficial is so much greater. We need to be using our computing skills to to create products and systems that contribute to economic, social, and environmental prosperity. I’ve spent the weekend wondering how we can apply these eco-effective ideas in other areas of computing – a model for software engineering etc. Perhaps we are already there with reuse, refactoring etc, I’m not sure.

PS In a side note: there’s research reported recently relating bumper stickers to road rage (the stickered -drivers not the slogan-readers), and advice here about developing bumper sticker campaigns (you can probably tell I’m avoiding real work).