Can more information save the planet? Daniel Goleman, best selling author of Emotional Intelligenceseries, reveals in his new book Ecological Intelligencethe hidden environmental consequences of what we make and buy, and how with that knowledge we can drive the essential changes we all must make to save our planet and ourselves.
Goleman reviews new methodologies like industrial ecology and LCA, or life cycle assessment. These tools look at the environmental and human health impact of stuff from a holistic view: from raw material extraction, to refinement, manufacturing, transportation, retail, use, and disposal, or reuse. If we really want to know how green something is, then conducting an LCA of a product will give us more precise clues to where the biggest problems are, and how we can improve. For example, the biggest impact of a t-shirt is not in the manufacturing, or the agricultural process to grow the cotton or bamboo, or the industrial process to refine polyester. In fact, the biggest impact is the use phase, the many times you will put that dirty t-shirt in a washer or dryer.
Goleman’s message is primarily for consumers: you will change your habits if you know what is in the stuff you buy, and how it impacts people and the earth. For companies, the message can be even more powerful. Using tools like LCA, you will be able to now see innovations that improve ecological impacts in a real way. Competitive advantage in a world of the ecologically intelligent means being the most transparent about your entire supply chain, and focusing on the big picture impacts to environmental change.