Transdisciplinary Design

Barriers of Natural Capitalism

Posted on December 18, 2018

At the seminar, we came into contact with a lot of theoretical knowledge and started discussions on how to use design to change the world and how designers can find their own roles. The pioneers’ theories are all very attractive and inspiring. I have to admit that many theories have made us see the hope of “changing the world,” but at the same time, we have seen many unsolvable problems.

In Natural Capitalism, the authors propose a production method that benefits both consumers and producers, including its necessity and the way it is transformed. It is very impressive that His approach to change does not align capital with consumers, but rather to builds on the benefits of all stakeholders, which seems to be very feasible because it benefits everyone. What interests me is that this book was written twenty years ago, and the way he proposes are very convincing. But why does it seem that natural capitalism has not made much progress until now? The way he advocates change is top-down, and the source of many problems and the way they solve problems are located in producers and governments. But problem is that this theory did not seem to attract the interest of capitalists and governments, and they are the key to this necessary reform. I don’t think they are not seeing the problems of the current development model, nor are they aware of the benefits of natural capitalism. But when considering capital competition and political contests, the long-term plan for sustainable development is not so important to them. So I  think that many so-called dilemmas are not that we can’t, but we do not want to. Many great ideas seem to be worthless in front of politics and capital.

People choose to avoid talking about some problems because they stand in a favorable position. Therefore, different countries cannot cooperate completely. When it comes to resource utilization and environmental protection, the issue of garbage disposal is worth discussing. While advocating changes in global warming and environmental pollution, developed countries are also constantly sending garbage to developing countries. As if the garbage was shipped out, the problem was solved. This attitude has a decisive influence on the use of resources. When these countries think that the garbage is not disposed of by themselves, they certainly don’t think about how to reduce the garbage.

The first thing that shocked me in the United States was not a cultural shock, but the attitude of the so-called developed countries. During the one-week intensive, we discussed the problems of trash bins and garbage collection systems in New York. A speech from a garbage disposal expert gave me a very deep impression. I can’t remember the complete remarks, but the content is that ”you should not waste time thinking about stupid garbage collection,recycling materials are more expensive than raw materials.” I was shocked at the time, recycling garbage was a stupid question for him, and it was not worth thinking because recycled materials are now more expensive than raw materials. Also, the garbage generated anyway will be landfilled in developing countries. We are in the same ecosystem. Everyone’s behavior is closely related to each other. It is intellectually appropriate that everyone should work together and cooperate. But considering political contests and capital competition, it all seems to be nonsense.

In the concept of natural capitalism, we have many opportunities to carry out this change and can bring infinite benefits to all mankind and the ecological environment. But in many ways, we are faced with the right way and the easy way. Probably people always choose an easy way, so it is difficult to solve the problem. What is the meaning of the design? What is the role of the designer? Constantly overcoming the difficulties caused by capital competition and political contests? So I said that the barriers to achieving natural capitalism is not that we cannot, but we do not want to. Just as privileged people are praying that the world should not be fair, it is not impossible to be fair, but they do not want to.