Sustainability in a Beer Can
Sustainability in a Beer Can: An Exercise in Systems Thinking
Systems Thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another other within a whole (Wikipedia 2010). It suggests nothing happens in isolation. So one could say that the positive or negative effects on ones actions will come comeback to either help you or hurt you. The question is, within the context of sustainability, how to harness the power within this rediscovered knowledge? Allow me to elaborate.
To begin some basic definitions are necessary. For the purpose of this short essay, sustainability is what it has always been, the ability of an action to be continued for the long term. Green is the term given to those environmental, social and economic decisions, processes, practices and technologies that we use to achieve sustainability. Finally a beer can is well, a can that holds beer. A few months a go I participated in a tour of a local beer distribution company. Our host was somewhat at a loss for an answer when I asked what his company was doing to go green. However, he did say that his company was initiating a program to run their delivery trucks both day and night as well as better plan their routs to minimize labor time, distance traveled and fuel burned. It was then that his story got interesting.
Naturally running the single trucks twice a day reduces the need for additional vehicles, maintenance and insurance policies. However, as he continued his story, he told me how as a result of minimizing the trucks time on the road, they were having fewer accidents further lowering their liability. Furthermore some of their customers liked the night deliveries because it more closely matched their restocking schedules and did not interfere with their customers. Also it seems at midnight, nobody steals the beer!
To end my story, I suggested to my host that all what he had related to me was part of being sustainable. But also now that he knows that benefits like this can accrue from simple Green actions, next time why does he not put green to work, and PLAN to create them on purpose? I think this is good advice for us as well.
Green Forward Blog
Saturday, March 20, 2010