Waste = Food

We were inspired by an article we came across about those programs you see in almost every hotel nowadays, the “don’t change your linen every day” programs, to think about how negative a lot of the green messages are out there. “Reduce”, “Decrease” and “Stop” are leading verbs that are used when talking about environmental action. This has the psychological effect of shaming people into behavioral change, which doesn’t work. As we can plainly see.

One of the reasons we value the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) message, and think it can work better, is that it is a positive message; “Create positive waste” is the rallying cry. This rubs a lot of people up the wrong way, because they automatically associate waste with garbage clogging up landfills. But nature creates waste in every yearly cycle: the trees drop first their flowers and then their leaves on the ground. And we don’t see Greenpeace or other environmental organizations protesting in forests about all the tree waste! That is because tree waste becomes compost to fertilize future plant growth.

Positive technological waste can follow the same pattern: waste is created in a technological cycle, but it is channeled back into the production cycle by the total recycling of that waste into new products.

Desso, a global flooring solutions company, and one of the “poster children” of Cradle to Cradle products and processes, has the goal of 100% recycling of its carpet waste back into carpet. It will never stop creating waste, but it will achieve total closed loop processes, where all waste is food.

The article on the hotel programs paraphrased a comment made by William McDonough, co-founder of the Cradle to Cradle methodology, on how to turn a negative program, focused on “reducing linen washing” (subtext: “you’re wasting resources just by staying here and we don’t want you”), into a positive Cradle to Cradle message: “feel good about staying here, because we have environmental programs in place that use renewable energy, rainwater capture systems and innovative water treatment systems, which means you are contributing to the environment by staying here, using the linen and taking long hot showers to your heart’s content.”

Now that’s a hotel WE would stay at. And we believe many people would feel the same.