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Sustainable Solutions ~ January 2015


Sustainable Solutions ~ January 2015
Practical Adaptable Principles for Perpetuating Sustainability

by Sam Euston

I’m boarding my returning airline in Amsterdam, going home after having just completed filming a piece (for RBTUS) on “Waterway Utilization: A More Sustainable Transportation System”. On my flight home (seated next to me) is Netherlands Atmospheric Scientist, Jason Frank Ph.D., who teaches Atmospheric Mathematical modeling. This Computational Science model, calculates, displays and provides predictors of atmospheric variations (climate changes), and is additionally able to isolate the effects that are a direct result of human activity.

An interesting happenstance, as I’m thinking about the subject matter for this month’s Sustainable Solutions column, while tightening my seat belt for the 11 hour flight home.

Professor Frank is working on a model during our flight, and provides me with a brief and simple overview. What becomes more and more evident as I’m observing Dr. Frank, is that we (homo sapiens), are damaging our earth, running out of time (and excuses), and need to actively mitigate the damaging effects we’ve created.

The topic of this month’s column is Practical Adaptable Principles for Perpetuating Sustainability: now say that 10 times fast. I’m following up on the practical application regarding last month’s principles.

Let’s first consider a commerce aspect, because we are a trade driven society and community.

Adaptable Principle #1: (based on the Brundtland Commission definition of sustainability)

Consumer/ Producer/ Seller Consideration Principle:

  • To what degree does this product or service (which requires product usage), meet the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to sustain themselves?
  • What are the pollution effects to manufacture, package, distribute and market this product?
  • What are the natural resource extraction costs generated by this products fabrication?
  • Is there a sustainable living being earned by all involved, in the life cycle of this product?
  • Is a Benefits and Damages Report disclosed and obtainable?
  • What is the life cycle of this product, and how are the remaining components repurposed?

One can anticipate a flood of criticism and initial resistance to implement a principle of this nature. It could be viewed as  unrealistic, anti-commerce, prohibitive, and anti-competitive. We have a strong local model from which we can learn from, Alvarado Street Bakery appears to be quite successful, maintaining standards similar to these principles.

It’s true, a lifestyle adaptation is required for us (and our planet) to survive.  We need to re-evaluate the quality of sustainable life” versus the “quantity of commodity’s extinction cycle”.

Let’s take a step further, and begin evaluating commercial loan funding on several levels of profitability.

  • Financial viability & profitability.
  • Sustainable business plan and practices.
  • Ingenuity utilizing natural resources effectively (manufacturing, packaging, distribution and marketing cycles).
  • Product wastecycle, lifecycle & re-use contribution cycle.
  • Contribution toward sustainability of natural resources.
  • Value toward building local sustainable community.
  • Sustainable living contribution for owners, partners, employees, contractors.
  • Responsibility for product’s impact statement.

Each of the eight levels would receive a rating, and funding would be centered on sustainability as well as profitability. Lender’s commissions are be based on funding the most sustainable and profitable ventures.

This principle could be expanded further into sustainable accounting. 

It was once thought the “Laissez-faire” approach would maintain equilibrium and balance, and it has been proven throughout the course of history that our stewardship with principles based in sustainable accountability are needed.   

Extracting natural resources by whatever means possible (even when it’s no longer “true cost” profitable), destroying our soils, polluting our air and water by sophisticated manufacturing processes (for the sake of increased production), creating toxic “protective” chemicals and spraying them on food sources and in the environment we inhabit (as the rate of cancer, auto-immune disease, and autism rise), modifying the genes of the food we consume so they are pest resistant (without adequate independent testing), it just goes on and on and on. It’s time to STOP, and re-evaluate.    

As I noted in a previous column, If we care about Sonoma County and our planet, we need to adopt principles that demonstrate our responsible stewardship”. It’s real, it’s here, it’s our mess, our responsibility, and it’s time ! We can bring in 2015 adopting sustainable life style changes, raising our accountability for what we do, and how we do it.