For all kinds of life, we need energy, water, air and different kinds of material. The sun is the engine that recycles the flow of energy, water, air and material without any waste products.
In nature, there are no waste products. When a tree dies, a process of decomposition begins. This process creates the conditions for new life. When we human beings cut down a tree and saw it into lumber and then make a beautiful piece of furniture from the wood, we call it “production”.
But the truth is decomposition. Decomposition in an artistic way. What happens with the waste products from this “production”? Are the waste products from our production in factories a problem or a possibility?
If we mentally start to think that waste products are an opportunity, then we start to find solutions that close the loop. Production, consumption and decomposition.
Linear thinking and circular thinking
Ever since the industrial revolution started two hundred years ago, we changed our way of thinking from circular thinking to linear thinking. The old farmer’s circular thinking was based on the circle of twenty-four hours – day and night - (working, eating and resting), the year – spring, summer, fall and winter (seeding, harvesting, storing) and the life cycle – childhood, learning a job, work and old age.
There are many examples that illustrate this circular way of thinking. During the industrial era, we started to think in a linear way – production, consumption and waste. Our time schedules are based on linear thinking. Most of our buildings and cities are based on linear technology. We buy energy from non-renewable sources and produce waste energy. We buy water from the grid and turn it into wastewater. We actually use food-grade water to wash our cars and irregate our lawns. In our buildings, we have a fresh air intake, and we produce used air.
Very few are interested in what happens when we are finished using the water, the oil, the air, or products and materials. It is always somebody else who takes care of the waste products. We think that the oceans and all of Nature herself have the capacity to take care of the waste products. If you can throw waste away and not see what happens to it, why be worried?
Now we start to have a better insight, but we are far away from an eco-cycle adapted society in which we close the loops. This is the challenge for the future. We have to start designing our buildings and cities by using EcoCycleDesign.