About The World Counts
The World Counts was created to raise awareness of important global challenges. And to be an inspiration for taking action - so that the negative trends can be reversed. We are firm believers that we can all make a positive difference.
Our current consumer society is not sustainable. Basically, products are made from natural resources and eventually turned into waste. With a limited amount of natural resources, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we can’t run such a system forever.
The World Counts illustrates negative trends using live counters related to:
- The environment
- Energy & climate
- Your health
Disturbing things are happening in each of these areas. We want to highlight some of them, and to illustrate how they essentially are linked to our consumption of goods and services.
We also want to emphasize and show that we all, as consumers, can make a positive difference by paying more attention to the things we buy. The “you & your stuff” section gives examples of how your choice of companies and products have real world consequences.
The vision: Powering consumer empowerment
Our vision is to create change through awareness and consumer empowerment.
As a consumer you have power. This power is exercised through your choice of products and services to buy.
Companies produce what consumers demand. So if you start demanding and buying products that are both socially and environmentally responsible it has real world effects. In short, you vote with your money.
Yet, to make such an impact possible you need information. A lot of such information is out there, but it is not always easy to come by. We are working to change this.
We are optimists
Yes, we know. The current site shows many negative trends. This is to illustrate that something has to change.
And we believe that change is possible. In fact, it’s possible to change pretty much every single one of the negative trends. We already have the tools to do it. It’s just a question of getting started for real – and things are already happening. companies are getting more serious about their social and environmental profile (corporate social responsibility – CSR),
the markets for organic, fairtrade products are growing every year, socially responsible investments are on the rise, the potential of clean, green energy is humongous, and a revolutionary concept (Cradle to Cradle) holds great promise…
Cradle to cradle design
Cradle to cradle thinking represents an very optimistic vision for the future. The idea is for products not to be “less bad” but to be positively good for the environment. What about a car that purifies air when driven, or a house that produces more green energy than it needs?
Right now, most of our economy in based on a cradle to grave system: the stuff we buy goes through a process of extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and waste.
This is a linear system, and because we have a limited number of resources available to us it cannot go on forever. The cradle to cradle concept, on the other hand, implies a circular system of zero waste where materials re-enter into the production-chain after use, or harmlessly into the natural environment.
The concept is inspired by how things work in nature. In nature, there is no such thing as waste. In fact, waste equals food.
But can we adopt nature’s way of sustainability and zero waste in our industrial production processes?
Yes! But it requires a different way of thinking.
The problem with “reducing”
There is a lot of hype about the idea of “eco-efficiency” – the way we currently deal with most of our environmental challenges. In short, eco-efficiency is based on the concept of creating more goods and services while using fewer resources and creating less waste and pollution. The key word is reducing.
The problem with “reducing” is that it merely slows down the process of destruction.
“Relying on eco-efficiency to save the environment will in fact achieve the opposite; it will let industry finish off everything, quietly, persistently and completely.”
Look at it this way. By 2030 the global number of consumers will more than double in size to 4.9 billion. Merely reducing our negative impact is simply not good enough. Not by a long shot. We MUST change our focus to start doing good instead of continuing doing less bad.
Instead of a future where we aim to reduce everything, we can enjoy the benefits of the consumer society while being an integral part of the ecosystem – not an autonomous entity destroying it.
Instead of setting maximum levels for materials that are known to be bad, we must use materials that are known to be good.
“Our goal is delightfully, diverse, safe, healthy and just world, with clean air, water, soil and power – economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed”.
Important cradle to cradle concepts are:
Waste equals food.Eliminate the concept of waste.
- Use current solar income. Power with renewable energy.
- Celebrate diversity. Respect human & natural systems.
- Technical nutrients. Produce and build using materials which can be used many times over without any loss in quality, staying in a continuous “technical” cycle.
- Biological nutrients. Use organic materials that can safely decompose into the natural environment.
Green companies are leading the way
Many companies know that major changes are needed and work hard to change the way they do business.
“Our ultimate, long-term vision is to create finished products with zero waste, as well as “closing the loop” on materials use – that is, using only materials that can be fully recycled into new products”
“By 2020 we’re going to be 100% renewable–producing as much renewable energy as we consume using renewable sources, such as the wind and sun. We’re also making our buildings more efficient, so we need less energy to run them”.
More and more companies are thinking this way!
Industrial ecology refers to the exchange of materials between different industrial sectors where the waste output of one industry becomes the input of another.
One of the best known example of industrial ecology is located in Kalundborg, Denmark. Here, an industrial ecosystem has been established which involves an oil refinery, a gyproc factory, a pharmaceutical firm, a fish farm, a coal-fired electrical power station and the municipality of Kalundborg, among others.
They have developed a web of relationships that funnel heat, energy and byproducts from one to the other. For example, gas captured from the oil refinery which had previously been flared off is now sent to the electrical power station which expects to save the equivalent of 30,000 tons of coal a year. Surplus heat from the power plant is used to heat about 4,500 private homes and water for fish farming. Ash is supplied for the production of cement.
The symbiosis has grown over the years to include partners from other districts, as well as farmers and the participating companies are constantly co-operating to find new ways of improving the industrial symbiosis.
It will be a huge challenge to change the operation of our consumer society. But it is possible – and very necessary. Visionary responsible companies exist. Our goal is to help you find them.
So become part of the new industrial revolution. And be good ☺Close