Thursday, 20 January 2011

Sustainability, Organization Development and The Key to Longevity

The year 2010 so far has witnessed several environmental disasters such as the BP oil spill, the massive floods across Asia and more recently, the toxic sludge in Hungary. The first questions that come to mind would certainly be, “How did it happen? Who caused this mess?” In the case of the toxic sludge in Hungary that wiped out all life in the Marcal river -I found out that it was the MAL Hungarian Aluminium Production and Trade Company (MAL Co.) From their website, MAL Co. articulates their strategic development plans, “… designed to create new jobs, …promote product restructuring,… achieve continuous improvements in quality with a view to creating the conditions of long term operation for the Group.” As with most organizations or companies established, the vision for itself would be to operate for the ?long term?; for as long as it is able to, till the end of time. But is this possible?

What enables corporate longevity?

According to Arie De Geus? book ?The Living Company?, it may well be. The writer highlights the research conducted in Royal Dutch/Shell that sought to answer what enables corporate sustainability and longevity. The criteria for companies they had studied were:
  • large companies that were as significant as Shell in their respective industries
  • as old or older than Shell (itself established in the 1890s)
  • had “successfully weathered some fundamental change in the world around them, such that they still existed today with their corporate identity intact.”

The Four Components of a Living Company:

  1. Sensitivity to the environment represents a company?s ability to learn and adapt
  2. Cohesion and identity… aspects of a company?s innate ability to build a community and persona for itself
  3. Tolerance and its corollary, decent-ralisation, are both symptoms of a company?s awareness of ecology: its ability to build constructive relationships with other entities, within and outside itself
  4. Conservative financing…: the ability to govern its own growth and evolution effectively.
The companies which met these criteria were few. The study found that the average lifespan of a Fortune 500 type company was only 40 to 50 years. Yet, companies such as Shell, Sumitomo, and Stora managed to flourish till today, with some tracing their origins as early as the 17th century! – as is the case for the Japanese company, Mitsui.
Imagine that! A corporate entity with the ability to sustain its purpose, values, identity for hundreds of years in spite of the major political and social upheavals that they faced in their surrounding environments. What enables them to do so? According to the study, four factors were found to be common. The first is being sensitive, attuned to, and remaining in harmony with the changes that occur around them.

Companies: Living Systems in a Wider Ecosystem

Though made up of a rich variety of individuals who are at times unpredictable and unfathomable, the living company, as Arie suggests, is a community of unique persona with the ability to discern its own “membership” and the ability to learn how to co-exist with other communities and within its physical environment.
Coupled with a sense of virtue and responsibility for today’s actions affecting the future generations of itself and of others, it is this very ability to learn and adapt that has enabled Interface – a carpet manufacturing company to transform its operations towards reducing the environmental impact of carpet production.
The founder of Interface, Ray Anderson, first challenged the people in the organisation in 1994 to come up with a strategy to address this issue of environmental sustainability. Together, they actively learnt from experts, relooked at their own processes and a year later, charted their journey. “From real life experience, costs are down, not up, reflecting some 400 million dollars of avoided costs in pursuit of zero waste. The first face of Mount Sustainability. This has paid all the costs for the transformation of Interface.” Ray Anderson at TED. (February 2009)
Aside from monetary gains, this journey is enabling the realisation of technological and process innovations such as post-consumer recycling technologies and reverse logistics. These innovations in turn benefit the industry, i.e. the “other communities” of the present and future.

Initiating and sustaining positive change

So, what does it take then, to turn from a MAL Co- type company to an Interface type? If I were to hazard a guess, (in view of limited information about MAL Co) at the fundamental level, it is not just about long term operation of “the Group” but a consciousness of the bigger picture, and a shared vision of a better picture that is rooted upon the positive, universal values of goodness.
In the case of Interface, the transformational leadership qualities of its founder had sparked the impetus for change towards a better, brighter picture. Inspired, the entire organisation became more attuned to this impetus, observed, learnt, experimented with some level of autonomy (and probably failed several times) but committed themselves nonetheless, and motivated each other to strive towards this shared vision.
The changes that the people of Interface went through must have been massive! At an individual level it requires a change in perspective, mindset and behaviours. While at the systemic level, changes in the structures and processes would be imperative in order to support their new strategy for sustainability. Change is often uncomfortable, at best – but what enables people throughout an organisation to sustain their initiatives and innovate as a living system?

Positive Core: Appreciative Inquiry

Recent developments in organisational development may provide some insights. Take the method of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) as an example. This process entails discovering the ?positive core? of an organisation through positively framed questions. Inquiry that is appreciative searches into the strengths of the whole, understanding what gives life, and elements that will enable a flourishing future state to be co-constructed amongst the members of the living system.
As a practitioner of AI, I have observed how this process brings positive emotions to the fore as individuals and groups share, listen and gain insights from past and present capacities. The shift in energy is contagious as people connect and relate to each other?s strengths, high-point experiences, beliefs, anecdotes, wisdom, and their hopes and dreams for the future.
A theoretical Model for Positive Organisational Change, proposed by AI founder, David L. Cooperrider, and Leslie E. Sekerka, proposes that this elevation of inquiry, and the collective expe-rience of positive emotions ? particularly Hope, Inspiration and Joy ? further propels them to search into what the best system could look like. Enjoined by a shared purpose and empowered by mutual support, members of the process are energised and moved to something beyond themselves. Through self-organising units, they ‘give birth’ to ideas, innovations emerge, and breakthroughs achieved.

A Living System:Innovation Enabler

In summary, I would like to believe that every entity – corporate or not – is a living system with the innate wish to continue existing for as long as it possibly can. In order to do so, it has to remain relevant by creating value for itself and the larger ecosystem in which it exists. The entity does so by being attuned to its environment, inquiring, learning, sharing and creating a positive, conducive environment for the value creation process. As in the case of Interface, sustainability provided the imperative for positive change for the long term. While fulfilling their social and environmental responsibility, profits were reaped, but beyond that, value was created through innovation. And to come full circle, the very enabler of innovation ? is once again the recognition and acknowledgement that an entity is a living system. A living system with an unlimited network of strengths, capable of unleashing its unprecedented potential for growth, development, and lasting, positive impact.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Make Sustainability Personal & Engaging Employees

How do you engage employees in your company’s sustainability efforts, particularly when you’re just starting out? It can be trickier thank you’d think. In Strategy for Sustainability Adam Werbach reminds us that,
Just as sustainability does not work for businesses unless it serves business needs first, sustainability does not engage individuals unless it first and foremost solves problems they experience in their lives.
So, how can you make sustainability personal and create the best conditions and incentives for engagement?
  1. Make it voluntary. Forcing people to care about something is a short-cut to resentment and inaction.
  2. Localize it. What matters to the team, to the community, to your customers that employees can connect to? Sometimes it’s as narrow as distinct employee interests (eating organic or reducing office waste, for example). The more localized you can take sustainability, the more personal it becomes.
  3. Start with what you care about. To make it personal, start by being personal. Share what issues you’re passionate about and how you first became involved.
  4. Don’t pretend to know it all.  Leadership and communication style is a primary influencer engagement. Inspire and listen rather than preach, scare or guilt. Your first job is to inspire possibility.
  5. Demonstrate the effect of action. One company piled up a day’s worth of trash to show the potential of what can be eliminated through recycling, composting and product choices.
  6. Make it a cross-functional effort. Involve people from different departments and seniority levels from the start.
  7. Publicly solicit, display and respond to ideas. After brainstorming sessions or employee surveys, list the ideas in a public place, respond to suggestions and questions and let employees know why some ideas can’t be implemented.
  8. Solicit input from outside stakeholders. How have other companies launched successful sustainability initiatives? Are there vendors, organizations or community groups that you could partner with locally?
  9. Give employees a place to start now. Even if it’s a small step. My grossest criticism of Michael Moore is that his movies fire me up and then leave me with nothing to do with the indignation he’s inspired. I’m left feeling manipulated and hopeless. What can employees do right away to capitalize on their interest and the momentum of the initiative?
  10. Start small for early success. Hitting your target early on builds momentum and confidence.
  11. Make it regular. Repeated activities or long-term goals are more inspiring and allow people to connect more personally than a morning of cleaning a park every quarter.
  12. Reward the most effective departments or teams. (Tying sustainability goals to individual compensation and bonuses is also very effective, but is more involved).
  13. Build company culture around sustainability goals. Whether it’s office parties, charity drives or 401(k)s, look for ways to align them with the company’s sustainability initiatives.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

4 Reasons our Current Business Model is Unsustainable

Sooner or later, there is a tough message that sustainability champions need to deliver to harried business leaders—the business game they are playing can’t continue. It’s been fun, but if they keep playing the game the way they are, everyone will lose. The rules need to be updated— quickly. That contention is probably not the best conversation-opener with a senior business leader. But, at some point along the line, sustainability champions should be ready to gently help them see that their current model of doing business is not sustainable.
In my July 27, 2010, blog , I described the 5-stage journey that a business follows as it moves from being an unsustainable enterprise in Stages 1, 2 and 3, to being a sustainable enterprise in Stages 4 or 5 (see the above slide). Labeling companies in the first three stages as “unsustainable” deserves further explanation, especially for Stage 3 companies. We will use the 3-nested-dependencies model of sustainability, described in my July 20 blog , to show four reasons why today’s take-make-waste model of commerce is unsustainable.
1.  Nature is depleted
Today’s business model encourages companies to relentlessly deplete our natural capital, which companies and communities require for their food, water, energy, and materials. Today’s business rules contribute directly or indirectly to systematic over-extraction and degradation of nature by physical means, such as deforestation, over-harvesting of fish stocks, and depletion of farm lands. Nature cannot regenerate itself fast enough to recover from this abuse. This corporate behavior is unsustainable economically and environmentally.
2.  Excessive waste accumulates from the things we dig up
Extractive companies like mining and oil-and-gas companies notoriously leave “tailings” and other waste behind. Business schools use case studies from around the world that highlight the destructive effects of mining and drilling operations on the environment and communities. Refineries and smelters create more air, water and soil pollution. When we use / burn these natural resources for fuel, further waste is produced. So, most companies contribute—directly or indirectly through their supply chains—to the systematic increase in concentrations of waste from substances extracted from the earth’s crust. This is especially alarming when the concentrations of heavy metals, fossil fuels and byproducts get too high. These days, companies can acquire permits to pollute so that their actions comply with regulations (Stage 2). But, these legal actions are still not sustainable. Sooner or later, we are in danger of drowning in our own waste, poisoning ourselves to death, and upsetting long-standing, essential natural equilibriums, like our climate.
3. We create excessive waste from things we make
Similarly, the current rules of the business game allow companies to pollute the air, water, and soil as they make things. Through the production and use of chemicals and toxic synthetics, companies directly or indirectly contribute to the relentless increase in concentrations of hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Today, there are over 70,000 chemicals, dioxins, and PCBs. A century ago, this wasn’t a problem because we didn’t have these man-made pollutants. Now, there are thousands of these health threats. We need to change the rules that allow companies and consumers to externalize the environmental and social costs of this pollution.  Such excessive and dangerous polluting is simply unsustainable.
4. Peoples’ needs are prevented from being met
Many business models today contribute—directly or indirectly—to abuses of political or economic power, resulting in unmet human needs for clean air, potable water, nutritious food, adequate shelter, and quality of life. According to Metrics 2.0, the richest 1% owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and the richest 10% accounted for 85% of the world’s total assets. In contrast, the bottom 50% of the world’s adult population owned barely 1% of the total global wealth. This chasm has grown in the last ten years and is continuing to widen. Such disparities create social unrest and violent desperation as basic living needs become harder and harder to meet. Something’s got to give. The business models that encourage over-consumption by the haves at the expense of the have-nots is unsustainable.
To recap, today’s take-make-waste business model is no longer feasible. It violates all four of The Natural Step’s systems conditions for a sustainable society.
The old business model was created during the Industrial Revolution. As described by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2002 book, Cradle to Cradle, companies with this system of production are designed to do the following:
  • “Put billions of pounds of toxic material into the air, water, and soil every year.
  • “Produce some materials so dangerous that they will require constant vigilance by future generations.
  • “Result in a gigantic amount of waste.
  • “Put valuable materials in holes all over the planet where they can never be retrieved.
  • “Require thousands of complex regulations—not to keep people and natural systems safe, but rather to keep them from being poisoned too quickly.
  • “Measure productivity by how few people are working.
  • “Create prosperity by digging up or cutting down natural resources and then burying or burning them.
  • “Erode the diversity of species and cultural practices.”
Those practices and consequences are what companies were designed to do for the last 150 years. Perhaps, for a minority, that business model worked fine at first, but it’s no longer sustainable. The Earth’s ecosystem is in crisis. It threatens 100% of us. Over-consumption and poor management have resulted in unsustainable use of natural and social capital. Climate change will add further pressure on the natural systems—upon which all of our social systems and economies depend. Our time is limited to prevent a global “tipping point” that could impact all of humankind, including future generations, adversely and permanently.
Stage 3.0 companies slow down their degradation by releasing fewer pounds of toxic wastes into the air, soil, and water every year and producing smaller amounts of useless waste. Stage 3.0 companies are better—“less bad”—than Stage 1 and 2 companies; but, they are still locked in an unsustainable economic paradigm that causes too much collateral damage in the environmental and social spheres. We need a more responsible game plan.
Next week, we will propose a more sustainable business model.
Please feel free to add your comments and questions using the Comment link below.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Bridge Between Ecological Knowledge and Green Living

by James H. Wandersee and Renee M. Clary

Guest writers James H.Wandersee and Renee Clary discuss why having a green mentor can make a difference when you’re trying to bring about behaviour change.  And if you can’t find one, well, become one yourself!  You may well be on the way to “sprout” an entire movement!
For decades, science educators have focused their teaching on making the public scientifically literate. The underlying reasoning was that a scientifically literate citizenry can and will make sound personal and political decisions about scientific issues. The problem is that even when people are equipped to do so, they often do not! In other words, scientific literacy is necessary but not sufficient for environmental activism.
How do we know this is so? Researchers for the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication surveyed 1,001 US adults about their conservation behaviors (Sierra, July-August, 2010, p. 21). Here are some startling data drawn from that study.
Knowledge and action
In Environment 360, environmental journalist Doug Strunk argues that many of the environmental threats that people face today are not immediate sensory threats that trigger an emotional reaction of alarm (May, 2009; Beyond abstraction: Moving the public on climate action). He cites Columbia University psychologistElke Weber as saying that instead, “They are psychologically removed in space and time. So cognitively, we know something needs to be done about, [say], climate change, but we don’t have that emotional alarm bell going off.
Through our own nation-wide research on people and plants, we have found that only when novices establish a working relationship with a green mentor do they take action and do what they already know is best for the planet.  We think green mentors are the bridge between the public’s ecological knowledge and actualized green living,
Two of the things that mentors provide are motivation and enthusiasm. You won’t get that from a book. To illustrate our point, take a look at this video on how to grow your own bean sprouts. The couple who made the video clearly are good mentors because they possess an infectious enthusiasm for green living, and motivate their viewers to take action and share the eco-joy they already have.

Read the full story at the-bridge-between

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Zero Waste Home Office

My husband and I share an office.

A big adjustment from our old house, where I had turned the granny quarters (a fully equipped kitchen) into a studio and where my husband had a room so large that he added useless furniture to fill the space... the kids did find it useful to draw on the lounge chair with markers though. It was so easy back then to just close his office door, when I could no longer stand the sight of his pile-scattered floor (Scott is a compulsive “piler”). And in my space, it was also too easy to collect used frames found at garage sales. I had high hopes of using them to exhibit my art, but they never actually “helped” my artwork. In our separated offices, we both had a stapler, we both had a shelf for office supplies, we both had a printer, we both had a TV… we both had a refuse can: one labeled “trash”, not “recycling”. Paper, food, pictures, plastic bags, packaging, all went in the same bin, destined to landfill.

How did we ever think that recycling should be relegated to the kitchen only?

Boy, have we come a long way in the past 5 years. In our new (1920’s) small home, we’ve learned to share, for the better… a more streamlined and more sustainable office. (Bonus: una officina to clean, not dos!). It’s not yet perfect as we still have to deal with long-ago purchases and their imminent disposal: Food coloring containers which await to color my homemade paper, large artist acrylic paint jugs, adhesive spray can, etc. I am not sure how I will choose to sustainably replace these products (make my own, or find them used on craigslist perhaps?), if replace them at all, when I empty them. In the meantime, I am reminded everyday of the wasteful office life we use to lead, and look forward to putting it behind me, with no visual reminders.
Here are some of the things we have done to get us on the right track in our current home office:

Pens / pencils:
o Better to have one good pen than a dozen “cheapies”. Thru my simplifying business, I have witnessed homes filled with dozens of free business pens. If you have allowed them in your house, you have also created a demand for it. Help stop the free-pen madness.
o Teach your kids to REFUSE pencils as party favors, as homes can get filled with those too.
o If you do need a pen or a pencil, choose a stainless refillable model, and buy them from a stationary store: they come unpackaged.
o Use refillable white board markers (Auspen): we don't personally own them since we're still using those from our previous life, but we've seen them at the SF Green Festivalo Donate extra office material (paper, pencils) to your public school's art program.

o Start your own junk mail war
o Cancel your phone directories: available online anyways
o Request less paper from your kids teachers/school and refuse duplicates when you have more than one child.
o Refuse paper billing (and it would be nice if we could keep it at that;)…sign up for electronic bills and statements. Call them as soon as you open their mail.
o Buy recycled paper products, packaged in paper: some manufacturers choose to sell their reems in plastic (?????)
o Use single-side printed paper for printing or making notepads with a metal clip: dedicated a file or paper tray for it
o Collect and use junk mail response envelopes
o Ditch the trash can (use it as a receptacle for your goodwill donations): strive to use your recycling bin exclusively, an office is all about paper management.

o Request recyclable-only packing material from your shippers: refuse bubble wrapping, styrefoam and plastic bags.
o Use paper tape on your parcels, and masking tape for smaller uses. I confess, it was a hard switch for me. There was something comforting about protecting my shipping addresses behind a waterproof plastic tape.
o Buy lick-on stamps instead of stick-on’s (if and when possible). At this point USPS only has $1 lick-on stamps available, so we're left with a sticker sheet the rest of the time (landfill). Send them an emailto help bring the lick-on's back in fashion.
o Use to print postage directly on your envelopes.
o Use surface mail to reduce the carbon footprint of your posted items.
o If you shred paper (we don’t because of the added energy cost and extra machine laying around), reuse the shredded material for shipping or COMPOST it: shredded paper is a nightmare for recyclers to separate if you have a mixed recycling can.
o Use a return address stamp instead of stickers (the latter leaves you with a non-recyclable sticker sheet destined for landfill): you already cancelled the pesky charity themed address labels, right?
o Reuse packaging material: donate your bubble wrap (with no tape), peanuts, entire styrofoam pads to UPS, dedicate a cabinet for the rest and reuse it.

Other Supplies/Equipment:
o Use paper clips instead of staples, or a staple-free stapler(packaging is ¾ cardboard, ¼ plastic). I personally don’t have one yet, I can't get past all the packaging.
o Buy paper clips in bulk: bring a bulk bag to Staples, they have a great selection of such items sold by the weight.
o Use solar powered calculator (looks like they still make battery operated ones...)
o Use your library to read business magazines and books. Sell your books on (you’ll be amazed how much you can sell your old schoolbooks) or donate them to your library for other people to enjoy them.
o Use memory sticks and external drives instead of CD’s (they last longer than the rewrittables too)
o Only print when absolutely necessary, recycle your cartridges (at Best Buy for example) keep a receptacle next to your printer for easy recycling.
o Donate your unused computers/equipment to Goodwill. They will refurbish and resell the equipment if possible. And, if buying a new computer, get a laptop, it’s more energy efficient.
o Cell phone: repair or donate. Best Buy will take them.

o Use zero waste cleaning (recipes coming up next week!).
Smart strip your equipment if you can. Since it did not work for our system, we have strategically plugged our equipment in power strips that we turn off at the end of the day.
o When your bulb burns out replace them with CFL’s (duh).

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


EXCERPT: It is more than a year since I came from the US for my sabbatical in India. It is mango season now and I stop at the fruit vendor on KP road. I buy a kilo of mangoes, a dozen oranges and half a kilo of green grapes. The vendor weighs the fruits, packs it and hands it to me. I am pleasantly surprised. It is nicely packed as usual, but the surprise is that it’s packed the “green way” – in used newspaper with a channall (thin coir thread) holding it together.

Last year this time when I bought fruits from the same vendor he packed each fruit type in a plastic bag and then put all 3 plastic bags in another big plastic bag! What a difference – and no inconvenience at all. It occurred to me that this is even better than the, “Would you like to pack it in plastic or paper, ma’m?” option they give at grocery stores in USA.

I became very curious and came to know that the change is all courtesy of the “Quit Plastics – Save the Earth” campaign led by the local district collector, with support from elected leaders and the administration in Kanyakumari District. The background of this successful program is an inspiring story and a case study on how to effect change.

Source: Read more at Kanyakumari - Plastic Free Zone

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Story of Bottled Water

Imagine I was trying to sell you a sandwich. It's shrink wrapped in plastic that may leach toxic chemicals, but don't worry about that. Mine's still healthier than a sandwich you could make at home, what with all those impurities in your fridge. Now, I've got no proof of that, and actually, some people have tested my sandwiches and found that sometimes they have more bad stuff in them than the ones from your own kitchen. But never mind that. Mine's more convenient. Tastes better too. I swear.

So here you go: one plastic-wrapped, waste-producing sandwich that isn't any healthier and doesn't taste any better than the one from your own kitchen. That'll be $10,000, please.

That preposterous pitch is the truth behind the marketing campaigns that turned bottled water into a $5 billion-a-year industry in the United States alone. Today is World Water Day--a good day to pause and consider the insanity of a global economy where 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water while other people spend billions on a bottled product that's no cleaner, harms people and the environment and costs up to 2,000 times the price of tap water.

To mark the occasion, I'm joining with a bunch of North America's leading environmental groups to release our new film: The Story of Bottled Water. It's a seven-minute animated film that, like The Story of Stuff, uses simple images and words to explain a complex problem caused by what I call the 'take-make-waste' economy. In this case, we explain how you get Americans to buy half a billion bottles of water a week when most can get it almost free from the tap in their kitchen.

The answer, of course, is you manufacture demand--make people think they need to spend money on something they don't actually need or already have.

In the last few decades, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle and other big beverage companies have spent untold millions making us afraid of tap water. They've told us that if we want to be sure what we drink is pure and clean--not to mention hip and fashionable--we should buy bottled water. After all, nobody cool or environmentally conscious drinks tap water, right?

The thing is, there are a lot of inconvenient truths the bottled water ads don't mention:

• Bottled water is subject to fewer health regulations than tap water. In 2006, Fiji Water ran ads bragging that their product doesn't come from Cleveland, only to have tests show a glass of Fiji water is lower quality than Cleveland tap. Oops!

• Up to 40 percent of bottled water is filtered tap water. In other words, if you're concerned about what's in your tap water, just cut out the middleman and buy a home water filter.

• Each year, according to the Pacific Institute's Peter Gleick, making the plastic water bottles used in the U.S. takes enough oil and energy to fuel a million cars. And that doesn't even include the fuel required to ship, fly or truck water across continents and state lines.

• Three-fourths of the half-a-billion plastic water bottles sold in the U.S. every week go to the landfill or to incinerators. It costs our cities more than $70 million to landfill water bottles alone each year, according to Corporate Accountability International.

But there's good news: People are getting the message. Last year, for the first time this decade, bottled water sales fell--not that much, but they went down. Restaurants are proudly serving tap water, adding carbonization on site for customers who want something fizzy. Consumers who want economy, portability and convenience are switching to refillable metal bottles.

Still, we've got a ways to go until everyone realizes that bottled water makes as much sense as a $10,000 sandwich.

So, if you haven't already, you can get started by making a personal commitment to drink from the tap.

Then join a campaign for investment in clean tap water for everyone, like those sponsored by Food & Water Watch, Environmental Working Group or Canada's Polaris Institute. Work to ban the purchase of bottled water by your school, company or city--Corporate Accountability is helping states kick the bottled water habit--and lobby local officials to bring back drinking fountains.

Together, we can send Coke, Pepsi and the rest of the industry a message as clear as a glass of crystal-clean tap water: We're not buying into your manufactured demand anymore. We'll choose our own demands, thank you very much, and we're demanding clean safe water for all!
Annie Leonard is the author of The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession With Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, Our Health - and a Vision for Change. Her latest film, The Story of Bottled Water, was produced by Free Range Studios and can be found at