Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Good start. But we need a few more letters.
On the front end, I propose, let’s add an R for “Refuse.”
The world’s climate change challenges aren’t going to be solved by doing better while we still take and make too much. Speaking as a First World citizen, at the heart of it, we have to use less. Of everything.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the back end. After the R for Recycle, let’s make room for Rot.
As in, whatever you can’t recycle, please send to compost. (Feel free to quibble to be had that composting is already rolled in to Recycling, but I feel it bears special attention.)
Which brings us to the most important R of all: Restore.
There’s a compelling case to made going past doing less harm, or slowing the rate of harm, or ceasing the harmful activities entirely.
If the next generation is going to have a world that they can thrive in, or any world at all the ways things are going, we have some cleaning up to do.
The next active step is to heal, to fix, and Restore our natural world, ecosystems and communities to sustainable, balanced health.
I’m starting to see examples of this in the business world with Sustainability commitments that explicitly address Restoration.
As an example, IKEA just issued new 2020 Sustainability targets to increase the availability of clean water where it operates.
IKEA to become ‘water positive’ by 2020
IKEA Group has revealed its new sustainability strategy which includes measures to balance its water footprint and contribute to the increased availability of clean water in the communities where it operates.
A Restore mindset is about leaving the world a better place, which is exactly how American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson defined success:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, Restore.
I’ll be on the lookout for more Restore examples like this one from IKEA.