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One Man's Trash - How to Find Treasure

Copper, Iron, Steel, and other metals are worth tons of money. Billions of dollars in fact. 

Millions of people work to push these industries along the path of success despite constant pressure from regulators, environmentalists, and economic cycles. Mining, sorting, smelting, and distributing products made from metals are growing industries. Projections for the future show our dependence on copper and other heavy metals increasing and this is especially true for renewable energy industries. 

After all, much of our electrical systems rely on copper, molybdenum, silver, nickel, gold, and other rare earth minerals. So much so, that the concept of sustainability is hard to address without first recognizing the value of the earth itself. Both withholding and forthcoming, the earth overflows with a wealth of value if you know where to look or how to obtain it.

Even before conventional knowledge was conventional. Ancient wisdom held the answer and intimate perspective of these things. The parable of the mustard seed- Matthew 17:20 in the Bible - “for i tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to the mountain, ‘ Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you”. 

Mustard seed can spread across an entire landscape in just a few seasons. The mountains of the Southwestern portions of the United States are completely covered with black mustard. The tiny, durable, tolerant little seeds spread easily, grow quickly, sustain in all kinds of places, and can go without water for months at a time. The mustard plant can out-compete other plants and cause an entire field to evolve into a forest of tall grasses with tiny yellow flowers in no time at all. The seeds are so small, and the roots are so prolific, that once a field has been covered, it is very hard to eradicate without ripping out all of the topsoil down to the depth of the deepest roots. 

“Faith as small as a mustard seed” is what we need for a sustainable landscape in our economy. Seeing some major changes over time has come with both a renewed sense of driven purpose and discontent on many fronts; literally war fronts. Our world is falling apart socially, because environmentally we are continuing to focus on profits, instead of social equity. This comes at a significant expense for those who are at the bottom of the economic food chain. The economy runs in one direction, and often, those who work, support those who capitalize on the work of others. 

Although free market conditions are important and create value for individuals and businesses, data and access to sustainable options in a cyclical economy are limited to those with enough money to afford an internet subscription and phone. Seems like you can't buy anything without an app these days. Billions of people on earth live amongst the same natural resources, but only those who capitalize on some facet of the economic cycle will grow in wealth. 

Here’s where the treasure comes. Knowledge of future plans can create inherited value, and knowing the goals of others can help you create goals for yourself. This is why Greenisms values perspective so highly. Perspective goes hand in hand with knowledge and the ability to make choices which capitalize on inherent value.  

Unfortunately for those who live on top of valuable natural resources, companies can be unforgiving and are often inconsiderate in their quest for a better bottom line. By ignoring some feedback, or some data point, or some level of courtesy, an improper focus may incentivize us to skirt by the regulations by making large assumptions part of the model that gives them permission to exploit the environment. This creates a Global Environmental Justice problem. 

Take the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the regulations for vehicles for instance. Emissions are based on a series of assumptions about how many, and how big the vehicles used in construction or for shipping will be. In some cases the information is based purely on default statistics and is not known at the time the report for the project is completed. This creates an incentive to comply, but has little follow-up for realistic compliance that the public would have clear knowledge of. It’s sorta a double-blind based on a book full of statistics.

After all, no one likes to be fined for anything. CARB is an organization trying to ensure clean air for all. The same spirit is built into the Clean Air Act for federal compliance. Who would have a problem with that as an individual? … but as a company?... This dilemma is a draw on an economy focused on profit and output instead of social equity and environmental sustainability.

If Air is considered a common resource, but air pollution out in the open ocean is different than air pollution from your next-door neighbor, then how is air valued?  This “value” isn't seen, but it is experienced. Asthma rates used to be horrible because of air quality issues. But now that we’ve outsourced to another country, and made existing technology better, “it’s not our problem” right? Wrong…. the quest must continue. 

Global health is now a major consideration more than ever before. After the last 15 years of growth and change, who could know what the next 15 or 20 years hold? 

Except, you can read the plans for it that some of the biggest economic drivers have! 


Knowledge is Treasure, and we can look it up! Many major companies and organizations have 20 or 30 or even 50 year plans in place to address social and environmental pressures that are mounting. These publically available plans can be called general plans, strategic plans, sustainability reports, 20-year plans, or what-have-you, but usually they are pretty easy to find on the company home pages because sustainability is so important now. 

Do you want to know about a specific company, and what they are working on? Check out the Greenisms Sustainability Company Database!

Unfortunately, if you were interested in tangible treasure, I can only point you in the direction of knowledge. Because Knowledge is priceless.

In conclusion, the old adage 'one man's trash is another man's treasure' takes on a profound meaning in the context of our modern economy. While tangible treasures may often elude us, the true wealth lies in knowledge and perspective. By understanding the intricate balance between economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability, we can navigate towards a future where prosperity is shared by all. So, let's embrace the treasure trove of information available to us and chart a course towards a brighter, more sustainable tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

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