It’s time to rethink the way we think about things

Words and Photos:Liam Gallagher

“The world will not evolve past its current state of crisis by using the same thinking that created the situation.”—Albert Einstein

I got an e-mail from Nicolas Müller last winter that changed the way I think about almost everything. I’d written him to ask about the line of recycled outerwear he was spearheading at Burton. Mentioned we were doing an eco-column next volume. Wanted his input. Got a little more than I asked for. He wrote back, “If you aren’t reading anything right now, you should check out Cradle To Cradle.”

I took his advice, bought the book, tore through it, and have seen things in a different light ever since. Simply put, the book is about remaking the way we make things. Co-authored by German chemist Michael Braungart and William McDonough, the books is more or less a manifesto of eco-effectiveness.

Eco-effectiveness? It was a new term to me, too.

Up until now, much of being an environmentalist has been about doing more with less, conserving resources, reducing, reusing, and recycling, oh, and inspiring a good bit of guilt in the process. But this idea of eco-effectiveness encourages just the opposite.

I’ll borrow the book’s example to clarify.

“Consider the cherry tree: thousands of blossoms create fruit for birds, humans, and other animals, in order that one pit might eventually fall onto the ground, take root, and grow. Who would look at the ground littered with cherry blossoms and complain, how inefficient and wasteful! The tree makes copious blossoms and fruit without depleting its environment. Once they fall on the ground, their materials decompose and break down into nutrients that nourish microorganisms, insects, plants, animals, and soil. Although the tree actually makes more of its product than it needs for its own success in an ecosystem, this abundance has evolved to serve rich and varied purposes.”

The cherry tree produces a lot of “waste,” because in nature, waste equals food. Overproduction is a good thing and excess is celebrated. So, what this book asks is: why can’t humans just figure out how to be more like the cherry tree and design all those thing we consume, like outerwear and snowboards, in a way that will help the environment? Then consumption becomes a good thing.

Why does this matter? Because we should all be thinking about how the snowboard industry can change. We’ve all know the way we’re living is damn detrimental to the Earth. We know we need to lessen our impact. But that’s not enough, because as McDonough says, “Being less bad is still not being good.”

We’ve added this Shred Lightly column in hopes that it’ll encourage you to think more. We don’t claim to have all the answer. We recognize the hypocrisy of our pursuit and our profession—printing mags is a mess. But this medium allows us to inspire. So, throughout the volume, we’ll highlight the people who are working toward change … like Nicolas Müller.

Professional snowboarders have always been exalted for being good on their boards. Why shouldn’t everyday snowboarders receive the same praise for being good to the Earth?

For more about Cradle to Cradle clickhere

For more about Nicolas click here