Cradle to Cradle: Chapter 2 starts with the bleak visions of population growth made by Thomas Malthus at the end of the 18th century, where he predicted that humans wouldn’t have enough resources to sustain ourselves. They track environmental writings by authors like Marsh, Thoureau, Leopold, and the creation of the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. Then Silent Spring by Rachel Carson marked the true beginning of environmntal protection going mainstream.

As our machines have grown bigger in order to feed the needs of a rapidly growing population, some have tried to get across the point that we should use less stuff. The authors make the point that a commodity as scarce as oil should be saved only for emergencies. Solar energy should be able to sustain us if we use it in the right way.

Eco-efficiency is the key. A respect for natural ecosystems integrated with efficient manufacturing processes that suit the needs of everyone. And that includes everyone. “Reduce Reuse Recycle…and Regulate” is the next term the bring up. Regulation carries with it the fear of slowing down economic progress.

This quote about money, commerce and regulation rounds up a disappointing theme in manufacturing. It also may be a theme that can be changed through green initiatives, however.

“Money, the tool of commerce will corrupt the guardian. Regulation, the tool of the guardian, will slow down commerce. An example: a manufacturer might spend more money to provide an improved product under regulations, but its commercial customers, who want products quickly and cheaply, may be unwilling to absorb the extra costs. They may then find what they need elsewhere, perhaps offshore, where regulations are less stringent. In an unfortunate turnaround, the unregulated and potentially dangerous product is given a competitive edge.”