Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life Cycle Thinking

In my readings, I came across an old article about a cause I once supported during my college days. I guess I had previously written about it in an earlier post. I once supported a popular civil society group in convincing some big fast food company to switch from polystyrene to reusable wares. It was a victory on our part because gradually, the fast food company's ware did change part of their dine-in customers. However, after a decade, these fast food who once got acclaim for their effort in shifting are now condemned as polluters of our waterways because the cost to clean up their effluents is still not present. The point is we should never look at one thing and think such is a great thing, environmentalists still haven't caught up with life cycle thinking. 

I guess this is my problem being most of the time a consultant more than being an advocate which is every now and then. Sometimes, I just know too much because I have been in both sides of the fence, before lobbying for stricter environmental regulations and working for an industry requesting for a compliance holiday. But the point is what matters is our overall impact.

Ever since we were born, we have always consumed resources. A professor who had passed away a year ago once told us in his lecture that it is much more energy efficient to die than to stay alive, wherever he is, he sure has reached a level of optimum efficiency. Looking at the chicken diagram, well I have eaten so many eggs and so many chicken in my lifetime and that consumption had supported the chicken farms, etc., etc.

Going back to the fast food sector, polystyrene packaging is not the only issue, not only waste water or its impact on the Amazon rain forest since most them outsource their beef from that region. We should know that all fast food corporations are made out of people, not in the "soylent green" sense but in the human resource sense. What drives these people to stick to their guns and continue on their unsustainable path is the way they think and how they see things and the need of their immediate customers. It will be quite a while but the transition is on-going.