Posted by: Seth D. | March 4, 2009

Long time no blog…

Well its been awhile since I wrote anything new on here, so I decided some sort of update was overdue.  The last article I wrote turned out to be a big hit.  Pushing Seth State over 1000 views.  I had over 200 views in one day last week.  I’m sure big time blogs get well over those numbers, but to me its  pretty surpising.  Dubai: The Collapse was well read and I really owe that popularity to World Focus.  For those out there reading feel free to comment.  Let me know if agree or disagree with the points raised.

I would like to give a little life update for those out there that know me personally, or even for those that have stumbled upon this page.  I was recently hired to coach junior varsity volleyball at Mt. Lebanon High School.

We started practice this week and I’ll just say it has been a learning experience.  I am looking forward to the season and helping these kids improve, so that they can contribute on the varsity level in the next couple of years.  If anyone is intrigued or interested the schedule is below with JV matches starting at 6:00pm most nights.

HighSchoolSports.Net - List...I have read a couple of books lately one dealing with volleyball, and the other dealing with the environment.  Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braumgart.

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

If you are at all concerned with the direction our world is heading, this is a great read.  This book takes the meaning of reduce, reuse, recycle to another level.  In the minds of the authors “recycling” is more aptly definied as “downcycling” because once a material is broken down to be reused and melded together with other materials it is no longer pure.  For example recycled steel is not as strong as pure steel.  Yes it is made up of the same materials, but the scrap steel may have had some impurities or other materials may have gotten mixed in, therefore making it weaker than pure steel.

The book talks about once again becoming native to our land.  Instead of fighting against nature in order to control it.  We can coexist and we can create materials and goods that can either go back to the earth and biodegrade or go directly back into the technical system that they came from.  I will use the example of a leather shoe from the book.

A conventional leather shoe is a monstrous hybrid.  At one time, shoes were tanned with vegetable chemicals, which were relatively safe, so the wastes from their manufacture posed no real problem.  The shoe could biodegrade after its useful life or be safely burned.  But vegetable tanning required that trees be harvested for their tannins.  As a result, shoes took a long time to make, and they were expensive.  In the past forty years, vegetable tanning has been replaced with chromium tanning…Today shoes are often tanned in developing countries where few if any precautions are taken to protect people and ecosystems from chromium exposure…Conventional rubber shoe soles, moreover, usually contain lead and plastics.  As the shoe is worn, particles of it degrade into the atmosphere and soil.  It cannot be safely consumed, either by you or by the environment.  After use, its valuable materials, both biological and technical, are usually lost in a landfill.

This is one of many examples made in the book to separate the flows of biological and technical materials.  Instead of combining them to form “monstrous hybrids” that serve no purpose at the end of their life cycle.  The rundown on the back of the book gives some good insight into what the book is truly all about.

“Reduce, reuse, recycle,” urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage.  But as architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart point out in this provocative, visionary book, such an approach only perpetuates the one-way, “cradle to grave” manufacturing model, dating to the Industrial Revolution, that creates such fantastic amounts of waste and pollution in the first place.  Why not challenge the belief that human industry must damage the natural world?  In fact, why not take nature itself as our model for making things?  A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we consider its abundance not wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective.

Waste equals food.

Guided by this principle, McDonough and Braungart explain how products can be designed from the outset so that, after their useful lives, they will provide nourishment for something new.  They can be conceived as “biological nutrients” that will easily reenter the water or soil without depositing synthetic materials and toxins.  Or they can be “technical nutrients” that will continually circulate as pure and valuable materials within closed-loop industrial cycles, rather than being “recycled” – really, downcycled – into low grade materials and uses.  Drawing on their experience in (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, McDonough and Braungart make an exciting and viable case for putting eco-effectiveness into practice, and show how anyone involved with making anything can begin to do so as well.

Well the back of the book did a much better job of conveying the gist of what its all about, so I just decided to throw it all in there.  Overall I thought it was quite an eye opening read.  The ideas promoted in the book are not unfathomable and are truly within in reach when the right people are involved.  Changing how the world operates is not an overnight thing, but it is a process that needs to begin now.

I am hoping to get back to posting on a more regular basis, but I would just like to leave everyone with the following video.  It was brought to light by a friend of mine from Tragedy of the Age and has plenty of truth to it.

Update: I also owe credit for several of the site views to the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

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Responses

  1. Glad you enjoyed the video. I’m pretty sure it is one of the greatest things I have ever seen. Louis CK is da bomb.

    That book looks interesting. Were environmentalism and recycling and the like a primary concern of our and other governments, we wouldn’t have a place like Trash Mountain next to homes and casinos, we wouldn’t be driving cars that get 15 or 16 miles to the gallon, and maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t be so dependent on that thing that tears the world apart called oil.

    People just don’t give a damn and it’ll come back and bite us in the ass someday. See Wall-E!!!!!


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