Then her smile sank into a frown. “But look at these figures. The first and last steps in this process are killing us! We’re both covering the Earth with trash and running short on resources at the same time. At the rate we’re going we’d need 1.6 Earths-worth of raw materials to supply the world demand. Even worse, if everyone lived like Americans we’d need 4 -5 Earths-worth of resources!” Lynn moaned.
Just then, as luck would have it, her old friend, Sir Cuellar, stopped by for a cup of tea. Lynn poured him a cup then poured her heart out about this dilemma. Sir gave her a wink and suggested an alternative.
“Folks call it the Circular Economy,” Sir explained. “Plans for what to do with products once they’re no longer useful are created before those products ever leave the factory. And those plans are paid for in advance. Instead of stuff marching in line to an eventual grave in the landfill they circle back so that their materials get used over and over again. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves; this requires a huge shift in our production systems, and the practical economics still need a lot of work.
“But Mother Nature can show us the way. She’s been successfully using this technique for millions of years. Plants and animals extract resources from the Earth. They grow, reproduce and die. Their poop and bodies decompose and circle back into the earth. Or as Aldo Leopold put it, ‘…energy flows out of the soil into plants, thence into animals, thence back into the soil in a never-ending circuit of life,’” Sir concluded.
As they finished their tea, Lynn said with resolve, “With Mother Nature as our guide we can’t go wrong. We’ve got to find a better way forward because this is our only home. It’s where we’re all forever… Earthbound.”