I spoke to a group of high school seniors this past month about where I saw opportunities for them in the future, not just in finding employment, but in where they would be able to make valuable contributions to society as a whole as it struggled to come to grips with the myriad challenges involved in matching personal needs and desires to the resources available.
While I spoke about waste and the issues those involved in its management faced, the main thrust of my talk had to do with the production side of the material equation and the opportunities therein for making what I consider to be the most significant contributions of all.
I used commercial and industrial avoidance measures along with packaging as prime examples of what has been accomplished in the last couple of decades, but that the greatest opportunities lay ahead in the selection, creation, and preparation of materials used in manufacturing processes to endow the products with increased serviceability, upgrade potential, and an easier return to the starting point of the material cycle at the conclusion of a product’s useful life.
While there were places I went into greater detail, my messages were (1) that waste was not so much a waste management problem but one that had its fingers into every aspect of our individual and corporate lives, (2) that it wasn't the province of our government to tell us how we must live our lives in order to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity," and (3) the salvation of those ways of life we each desire lay in the hands of those willing to achieve it by dint of industry, intellect, and the joy of achievement.
"It’s up to you to become our next greatest generation," I suggested in closing…but it’s up to us to help them.