“Sustainability” is not the end of the line.
Regarding the definition of sustainability, you can note that it is focused on conservation over evolution. Literally taken, sustainability is about sustaining and goes along the lines of reduction and simplicity. It focuses on preservation, limiting and not making things worse. This seems to be a main aspect making it worth thinking further. Moving beyond sustainability means beyond sustaining or restoring the current state and moving towards actively improving the environment.
Nature continuously strives for improvements. Life is about evolution, growth and thriving. It is abundant and wasteful, which it can easily be, because there is no waste. Everything is a resources and no one would ever call the rotten cherry on the ground trash. The Cradle-To-Cradle® concept [1, 2] nicely reflects this thinking and aims at putting it into practice in our society. It does not limit, it facilitates, improves, and constantly evolves. The key to our future is not to limit and constrain yourself and society, but to think in cycles and to give back.
What we give back is our contribution. Thinking in material terms from nature’s perspective, what we are giving back these days is toxic waste, polluted water, and dirty air. Nature doesn’t care much. Earth is about 4.5 billion years old; Homo sapiens time on earth is only about 200.000 years. Earth will most likely be here for another few billion years … with or without us. All this is probably more about us humans than about earth. We are the ones who will eventually get back what we give to planet earth today. We will eventually consume toxic waste, polluted water, and dirty air. In fact we already are consuming some of it today.
What is important to understand from my perspective, and the Cradle-to-Cradle® concept illustrates that nicely again, is that we should be striving to be part of nature’s continuous improvements; part of a positive evolution. We should not try to be less bad, but we should strive for being good; for being a positive power on this planet. Why can’t our houses produce clean air? Like the trees? Why can’t our plants produce clean water? Like natures plants? Why can’t our waste be a resource? Like natures “waste”? Not possible? Think again. The EPEA GmbH , provides a Cradle-to-Cradle® certification and already certified cloths, chairs, a carpet, building material that filter the air and even a TV. The key concept thereby is the observation of two cycles that would allow us to sustain our way of living with much less negative consequences. It involves identifying and separating a technological cycle and a natural cycle. While the natural cycle takes care of feeding our used nutrient back to natural cycles as a resource to process, the technological cycle takes care of feeding our technological nutrients back into new technological cycles. Both cycles are very carefully separated from one another. Of course, this approach does require a redesign of our production and consumption processes, but is it not worth it?
It’s not all nice and shiny and there has been some criticism on the concept . Applying it on a large scale might facilitate a centrally planned economy. The also postulated idea of being wasteful and abundant as nature faces the issue of mass and over population, which might produce too many nutrients for nature to handle and the problem of hype and mismarketing is inherent these days. It is however, an approach, an idea, a concept, which provides what a lot of other concepts lack: ideas on how to proceed and improve.
It can guide us on how to make things better. It can provide a starting point and it can be improved over time. We need to improve what and how we feed things back into nature. What we sow now is what we reap tomorrow. And as Antoine Lavoisier said: “Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme” (nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed). We can transform things in cycles and we ourselves are part of a transformation process. And … maybe even more important, we are in a position to steer it, at least to some extent.
 Homepage of Michael Braungart, http://www.braungart.com, viewed 24.08.2012
 EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency) GmbH, http://www.epea-hamburg.org/, viewed 24.08.2012
 DI Rahim Taghizadegan, Cradle-to-cradle – die nächste Sau, die man durch das globale Dorf treibt?, wirks – Das Mutmach Magazin, http://www.wirks.at/?p=18, viewed 24.08.2012