IMAGINE A WORLD where the very way we live is steadily enriching the ecosystems around us. It is a world where our households and communities, just by thriving, make the biosphere a greener, more abundant and vibrant place for us and our fellow species. It is a world in which all our enterprises, large and small, account equally for their their grey and green ecological impacts as they do their expenses and revenues. It is a world where every company and corporation, just by doing business, is securing carbon from the atmosphere and supporting the diversification of species in its space. Here, no longer do we strive to simply minimize our grey ecological harm. Instead, we strive to spiral our contributions ever upward: making public our ecological accounting, overpaying our ecological debts and directing our surpluses first and foremost to the benefit of the biosphere. As we do so, the consciousness of our interconnection to ecosystems of which we are immersed ever increases, and with it, the sync of our cycles of enterprise and economy with those of biome and biosphere — a harmony rising up with us towards the stars.
Forgotten and dismissed by many of us, such worlds have thrived in nations ancient and ongoing. To the extent that we can recognize these societal moments of ecological enrichment we can imagine a similar harmony unfolding about us today. And insofar as we can imagine such a green world — it is not nearly as distant as many of us despair.
Like our yearning for a song well sung or for colors that compliment, Banayan and I believe that the yearning to contribute ecologically unites us as a species. Across culture and continent, as humans we long to add to that which we are part — to improve the teams on which we play; to deepen the harmony of the choirs in which we sing; to enrich the diversity, vibrancy and abundance of the communities in which we belong. Consequently, as the part we play in our local ecosystems and global biomes becomes clearer, so too does our yearning to participate positively in them — to deepen their harmony; to enhance their sync; to enrich their diversity, vibrancy and abundance. Indeed, Banayan and I have come to see that the transition to households, communities and enterprises that are in-and-of-themselves ecological contributions is the next stage of an epic planetary story whose direction is, quite literally, in our hands.
So, how do we arrive at this beautiful world that we all long to see?
Banayan and I have come to see that deep within that ubiquitous material we all love to hate, lies the path of green transition.
As it must be.
Gardeners have long observed that problem is always the solution1 — weeds, pests or pollutants are always, with a shift of perspective, the very nutrients, medicines or fertilizers that bring a struggling garden to thrive.
Made as it is, by humans entirely for humans, plastic reflects our modern, human-centric society like a mirror.
Made as it is from ancient carbon that has been long compacted under the earth, plastic is also a portal backwards into the Earth’s primordial past.
By stepping through, a great ethical advance awaits us on the other side.
Up until now, our modern understanding of how to contribute ecologically has been juvenile — our notions human-biased, shallow and incomplete. Our contemporary definition of ‘green’ has been limited to simply reducing harm, while all this time, even the possibility of ecological enrichment has remained all but un-imagined.
However, through insights gleaned from the plastic’s stellar origins, the wisdom of almost-forgotten nations and the correction of long-held misconceptions we can come to understand the the fundamental principles of biosphere enrichment.
Not only can this help us to understand how the Earth’s surface has relentless blossomed and thrived while our neighbouring planets have spun bare and desolate; understanding the Earth’s ways enables us to emulate them within our own. With the Earth’s example as our guide we can then reorient our households and enterprises, our economies and our technologies to build truly green ones from the ground up.
But first, let’s address the hate.
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Russell Maier and Banayan Angway, a western philosopher and Igorot spokeswoman, met ten years ago to protect the Chico River from an inundation of plastic pollution. Ever since, their dive into of modern relevance of indigenous ecological wisdom has steadily deepened. They are now publishing their insights in a theory of green and grey entitled the Tractatus Ayyew. The full story
1 Bill Mollison, (1988) Principles from Permaculture a Designers’ Manual, Tagari Publishers,