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After about ten days in Europe, I am on my way home. I have about three hours to spend in Montreal before getting my flight to Boston. I have missed quite a few posts so I will use this time to compose something about my time away. I have been quite occupied with my International Society for Industrial Ecology conference and then spending time with friends, but have been looking around and listening to activities and thoughts about sustainability. A few things are very evident. At least in the two countries I visited, Portugal and Switzerland, recycling is taken very seriously. In Lisbon, I found sparkling new collection stations sited… Read More

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Still in Lisbon

Still in Lisbon, but winding down. Our industrial ecology conference has to be scored as a success, at least based on all the wonderful Portuguese hospitality and food and wine. Lots of the latter substance. For all of you that attend professional society meetings, you know how they go. A few gems that make attending worthwhile. Making new and seeing old friends, as usual, turns out to have the highest value. As I mentioned, the theme of the conference is transitions to sustainability. The keynoters have been very interesting. The meeting opened with a report by Leith Sharp, who, until very recently, managed the Harvard University sustainability program. This program… Read More

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(Re-)living & Loving Lisbon Life

As I may have mentioned earlier, I am spending some time in Lisbon at a conference of the International Society for International Ecology. My wife and I added a few days at both ends to reacquaint ourselves with Lisbon where we spent 6 months back in 1999. I had a Fulbright to teach here. Much of the City seems the same, including the pickpockets that lifted a camera and wallet from my wife’s purse yesterday. I like that sameness, except for the aforementioned incident, as I always found the life here closer to flourishing than that back home. The streets are always full of people, shopping, working, or just having… Read More

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Off to Lisbon

After weeks of hiding behind the clouds, the sun has decided to show up. Just as we are about to leave for Portugal. This trip will give me a good chance to catch up with my colleagues from Europe, Asia and elsewhere in the world. Their concerns about the state of the world tend to be much the same as what I hear in the US, but their responses tend to be different. Industrial ecology, the subject of the conference I will be attending, has had more influence in the rest of the world. The concept of extended producer responsibility, a form of the polluter pays principle, is rooted in… Read More

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Traveling for Two Weeks

I will be away for about two weeks, traveling in Europe. I will try to blog from there, but am not sure I will have access to the internet. I am going to the 5th biennial International Conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology in Lisbon, and then a side trip to visit friends in Switzerland. I have been the Executive Director of the Society since its inception and am stepping down from this position at the meeting. Industrial ecology is founded on the idea that industrial systems resemble ecosystems in terms of the flows of energy and materials from organisms (firms), but with one big difference. The material… Read More

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It’s the System, Stupid

[Sloan Management Review](http://sloanreview.mit.edu/), the magazine of the MIT Sloan School of Business, has a new editor and a new format. Sustainability is one of the primary topics they now cover. Some months ago, they began to publish extended interviews with MIT-related people who have been engaged in this topic. (Disclosure: I was one of these people, and expect to see my interview come out shortly.) The [latest one is with Peter Senge](http://sloanreview.mit.edu/beyond-green/sustainability-its-not-what-you-think-it-is/), with whom I collaborate on several projects. The subject, based on Senge’s recent book, [*The Necessary Revolution*](http://www.amazon.com/Necessary-Revolution-individuals-organizations-sustainable/dp/038551901X), is focused on how firms are adjusting to the demands that sustainability, not their customers, is forcing them to rethink their… Read More

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Flourishing without Growth

Sorry for the premature publishing of this post. I clicked the wrong button in my haste to get on the water and do a little fishing. The weather has been terrible for nearly a week and I have sat inside waiting for the skies to clear. Well, today the sun came out. But best of all, I hooked a couple of keeper-size striped bass, my first of the summer. I use barbless hooks and always release my catch. Today, I offer up a couple of stories playing a different tune than the usual economic news, that of well-being without economic growth. It is interesting to me that both come from… Read More

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Straight Talk about Sustainability

If you follow this blog, you know that I am skeptical or downright critical of almost all claims made about green this or that or sustainable this or that. It’s not that I believe that most claims are a form of greenwashing. Many are, but I do believe that most organizations making such claims intend to improve the state of the world. The problem all have, whether serious or manipulative, is that they do not know what sustainability really is, and don’t know how to talk about it. All action follows languaging, so if the words send a confusing message, the results will go astray. As Burns said, “The best… Read More

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How About Finding Contentment in “Good” Times as Well as in Bad

I have been finding good stuff to write about in the “[Happy Days](http://happydays.blogs.nytimes.com/)” blog of the New York Times. The latest entry was another story about how someone was able to flourish without all the bells and whistles of typical consumerist fare. Pico Iyer, the author of that article, titled “[The Joy of Less](http://happydays.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/07/the-joy-of-less/),” is a writer who left New York more than twenty years ago for a much reduced way of life in Japan. > . . . I still live in the vicinity of Kyoto, in a two-room apartment that makes my old monastic cell look almost luxurious by comparison. I have no bicycle, no car, no television… Read More

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In Passing–Thomas Berry

Today’s newspapers carry the [obituary](http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/us/04berry.html) of Thomas Berry. No one has been more articulate and evocative about sustainability, even though he rarely used that word. Ordained as a Catholic monk in 1942, Berry left the isolation of the monastery to take up an academic career, teaching at a number of leading Catholic universities. But it is his writing that will be his most important legacy. In *The Dream of the Earth*, Berry tells of the power of nature to nurture spirituality in human beings, but also warned against the loss of that same “nature” to the forces of modernity. He envisioned our current stage of existence as merely a momentary… Read More

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