“Sustainability by Design, authored by John Ehrenfeld, may be and certainly should be one of the most important books of the 21st century.”

- Janice Pryor, Host, The Commonwealth Journal
(October 12, 2008)

“John Ehrenfeld has been pondering sustainability longer and more holistically than most, and this book represents the delicious fruits of those labors. It is the story of his journey of discovery - the simple truths that turn out to be complex, the unintended "side effects" that shift burdens but don't solve them, the half-measures that are necessary but insufficient to address our global challenges. In short, it is the story of all who deign to strive for "sustainability." Along the way, Ehrenfeld deftly weaves physics and philosophy, storytelling and system dynamics to show what it will take for us to be healing to the planet and to ourselves. This is an extraordinarily valuable contribution.”

- Joel Makower, Executive Editor, GreenBiz.com, Author, Strategies for the Green Economy

“Drawing from the works of other giants, and adding his own deep insights, John Ehrenfeld has lit the path that can lead humankind away from the yawning abyss that lies so close before us, toward a wholly appealing goal: an ethical human relationship with nature and technology.”

- Ray Anderson, Founder and Chairman, Interface, Inc.

“In Sustainability by Design, John Ehrenfeld eloquently challenges us to confront the scale of change required to achieve a sustainable world and efficient society.”

- Jonathan Lash, President, World Resources Institute


A Frank Conversation about Sustainability

John R. Ehrenfeld and Andrew J. Hoffman

Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability invites you into a conversation between a teacher, John R. Ehrenfeld, and his former student now professor, Andrew J. Hoffman, as they discuss how to create a sustainable world. Unlike virtually all other books about sustainability, this one goes beyond the typical stories that we tell ourselves about repairing the environmental damages of human progress.

Through their dialogue and essays that open each section, the authors uncover two core facets of our culture that drive the unsustainable, unsatisfying, and unfair social and economic machines that dominate our lives. First, our collective model of the way the world works cannot cope with the inherent complexity of today's highly connected, high-speed reality. Second, our understanding of human behavior is rooted in this outdated model. Driven by the old guard, sustainability has become little more than a fashionable idea. As a result, both business and government are following the wrong path—at best applying temporary, less unsustainable solutions that will fail to leave future generations in better shape.

To shift the pendulum, this book tells a new story, driven by being and caring, as opposed to having and needing, rooted in the beauty of complexity and arguing for the transformative cultural shift that we can make based on our collective wisdom and lived experiences. Then, the authors sketch out the road to a flourishing future, a change in our consumption and a new approach to understanding and acting.

There is no middle ground; without a sea change at the most basic level, we will continue to head down a faulty path. Indeed, this book is a clarion call to action. Candid and insightful, it leaves readers with cautious hope.

Sustainability by Design

A Subversive Strategy for Transforming Our Consumer Culture

John R. Ehrenfeld

The developed world, increasingly aware of "inconvenient truths" about global warming and sustainability, is turning its attention to possible remedies-eco-efficiency, sustainable development, and corporate social responsibility, among others. But such measures are mere Band-Aids, and they may actually do more harm than good, says John Ehrenfeld, a pioneer in the field of industrial ecology. In this deeply considered book, Ehrenfeld challenges conventional understandings of "solving" environmental problems and offers a radically new set of strategies to attain sustainability.

The book is founded upon this new definition: sustainability is the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on Earth forever. There are obstacles to this hopeful vision, however, and overcoming them will require us to transform our behavior, both individually and collectively. Ehrenfeld identifies problematic cultural attributes-such as the unending consumption that characterizes modern life-and outlines practical steps toward developing sustainability as a mindset. By focusing on the "being" mode of human existence rather than on the unsustainable "having" mode we cling to now, he asserts, a sustainable world is within our reach.

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