Re-imagining Sustainability

A commentary on the 21 minute video Resource Abundance by Design by William McDonough (2014).

This video has a fantastic perspective on re-imagining sustainability from a perspective of abundance. In his talk, William shows how we can leave behind the mindset of “how much can I get for how little I give?” (world of limits)  to “how much can I give for all that I get” (world of abundance) (McDonough, 2014). He makes an important point about how we now live in a world with both a “biological cycle” and a “technological cycle”. Both of these cycles can be designed in a way that wastes are simply the building blocks for new products.William also makes a great point about how a “toxin” is simply a material in the wrong place.   He uses the examples of lead and cadmium (great for computers, not great for soil); and carbon in his examples. He also shares how the sewers and landfills of cities are rich in materials. As we begin to re-imagine our understanding of waste, we will learn to “mine” our cities for these valuable materials rather than traditional mines. I doing so, we turn wastes into materials and toxins into technologies. We see how we truly can design and create from a place of abundance rather than limits.


After reviewing the video, reflect on the following questions:

  • How does Williams create from a framework of abundance?
  • Why is carbon not a “toxin”? How is carbon useful?
  • How does the conversation change when we move from talking about doing “less bad” to doing “more good”?
  • Where do you see abundance in your own environment?
  • How do you create from a framework of abundance?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s