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Worldchanging 101: STUFF


How will our things -- and our relationships to them -- change in a bright green future?

Here are some of the most popular and enduring stories we've published in our first six years, stories we think offer a window into the Worldchanging archives. In these pages you'll find a treasury: more than 10,000 articles on cutting-edge solutions dating back as far as October 2003. This work pushes the boundaries of the global conversation on sustainability, social innovation and planetary thinking. Many of these writers are leaders in their respective industries.

To help get you started, we've compiled a primer in each of our seven meta-categories. We hope you'll use these guides as an entryway. Find the ideas you're most passionate about here, then explore our site for much, much more. Stay as long as you like, and please spread the word.

Understanding Stuff: Definitive Principles

The Backstory
A big part of making good choices involves knowing where things come from, what's inside them, and how they got to a point of use. If we know the backstory as consumers, we can make good choices; and if businesses and designers know they'll have to tell the story of their product, they make sure it's a story they can stand by.

Sustainable Design
In a sustainable industrial world, we create the possibility of reusing industrial "ingredients" to manufacture a new generation of useful items.

Making the Invisible Visible
To know how good a product or service is, we need to know the "hidden" costs of all of its in between and indirect phases. New tools and measures allow us to understand the resource use involved in every stage of a product's life, from design through disposal (or reuptake). This principle isn't just about the backstory; it's also about measuring the impact of a product's useful life.

Strategic Consumption
Strategic consumption is the recognition that the immediate, or tactical, effects of our purchases are of such limited power as to be essentially meaningless, and that responsible consumption needs to embrace the bigger picture.

Product Service Systems and Post-Ownership
Many times, what we want isn't the thing itself, but the service the thing provides. So if we could have the resulting conveniences that all our possessions afford us without owning them ourselves, would our lives be as comfortable and easy? Service designers say yes.

Sustainable Food
As environmental issues move to the forefront of public consciousness, the meaning of a good choice doesn't just have to do with a food pyramid or a nutrition label, but with knowing where your food came from, how it got to you, and who was involved in that process.

10 Landmark Posts on Stuff:

1. Spinach, Feedlots and Knowing the Backstory
By Alex Steffen
Published 23 September 2006

2. Bright Green Retail
By Alex Steffen
Published 23 July 2009

3. Biomimicry 101
By Jeremy Faludi
Published 13 October 2005

4. Your Stuff: If It Isn't Grown, It Must be Mined
By Jeremy Faludi
Published 25 December 2007

5. Industrial Ecologies
By Dawn Danby
Published 11 December 2003

6. Recovery Parks, Free Geeks and Plasma: Vancouver Debates Zero Waste
By Julia Levitt
Published 1 July 2008

7. Strategic Consumption: How to Change the World with What You Buy
By Alex Steffen
Published 26 March 2007

8. Product Service Systems: Third Space Studios
By Julia Levitt
Published 22 April 2009

9. Use Community: Smaller Footprints, Cooler Stuff and More Cash
By Alex Steffen
Published 15 February 2007

10. The Problem with Big Green
By Alex Steffen and Julia Levitt
Published 24 June 2008

Image credit: kennymatic, CC License

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