by Brad Rowen
We are creatures of habit. When something works, we tend to stick with it until it doesn’t anymore, often even ignoring better alternatives when they come along. Sometimes it’s for reasons of nostalgia, or just a perfectly normal resistance to planned obsolescence. Maybe we stick with an old cell phone in spite of the latest model’s amazing features. Maybe we like vinyl records. Maybe we are hanging on to an embarrassingly large collection of VHS tapes.
There’s nothing wrong with getting full use out of something you already have on hand. That non-smart phone might be the smartest way to avoid a lot of unwanted distractions for instance. But there is a point of diminishing returns. In other words, your long search for parts to repair your slide rule is likely going to end in the calculator aisle.
Those examples are relatively harmless ones. We run into trouble though, when our stubbornness has us pursuing genuinely outdated solutions to very real problems. Fossil fuels are a good example. We are very inventive creatures. The end of fossil fuels has been predicted over and over since oil was discovered. But we’ve kept on pumping, thanks to continuing innovation. What’s come with that innovation, though, is a constant cycle of boom and bust—wild excess when oil seems plentiful, and nervous hand-wringing when the tap slows to a drip. If you doubt that assessment, look at how much petroleum has become a political topic—whether you are awaiting the dictates of OPEC on how much their members will deign to produce at the price they choose, or clamoring for the President to release our strategic reserves. There are lengthy arguments on both sides about just what constitutes scarcity and what the response to scarcity ought to be in any particular moment.
Here’s a suggestion from a non-expert: Don’t look for scarcity; look for abundance.
If you’re a record collector, scarcity can be great. Uniqueness is a draw among collectors of almost anything from Faberge eggs to Beany Babies. But few of us want the things we use every day to be one of a kind. Just ask anyone who’s dropped Grandma’s prize gravy boat on the way to the table. No, we want the things we use every day to be readily available and easily replaced. That only makes sense.
Take something as simple as a water bottle. We want water bottles to be there in our hand when we’re thirsty, and gone from our sight when we’re not. We want them always at the ready, as the 80 billion plastic bottles we produce annually demonstrates. A demand that great speaks of abundance—and, at the moment, hides a great deal of discussion about scarcity. Plastic is made from Petroleum, you see, and, because it lasts so long, it furthers discussion of another sort of scarcity—the land we have to bury it in, with all our other garbage.
It needn’t be that way though. All we have to do is to stop arguing about scarcity and look for what we already have in abundance. Plants, for instance, the kind that provide fiber for a new container, the Paper Water Bottle. It’s a solution drawn from the Earth, only to return there when its usefulness is ended. It refreshes our thirst, then refreshes our planet. That sounds like a Refreshing Alternative.
Amazing! Our corporate culture matches Paper Water Bottle… save the planet!
Thank you for pursuing this important innovation! Paper Water Bottle is genius!
This concept is excellent! Hotels everywhere need Paper Water Bottles.
The Cosmetics industry needs to use Paper Water Bottle technology! Wonderful break through.
This is great. My university should order all our water in Paper Water Bottles!
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