chapter  10
22 Pages

Sustainability principle #1: Prevent waste

ByTim Lindsey

Benjamin Franklin is credited with coining the phrase "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". The enduring wisdom of this viewpoint can be applied across all types and sizes of issues. Consumption can be wasteful when raw materials, such as energy, water, metals, chemicals, paint, plastic, and wood, are converted into products and by-products that permanently leave the value chain. The resulting unusable waste and emissions can be harmful and can create additional waste by degrading other resources. Addressing the source of wastefulness is the most efficient way to prevent waste. Waste prevention can frequently be accomplished with minimal cost through incremental changes in behaviors and practices. However, in some cases, significant investment in equipment and/or facilities may be required to address the root cause of wastefulness. Markets fail to capture the true value of these resources and services because they are perceived to be "public goods" that are equally available to everyone.