Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from John Maeda

The Green Forest

There’s nothing simpler than avoiding having to wash dishes by just throwing them away. Sometimes it’s best to adopt the more complex route for the sake of being green.

  • April 7, 2008

I recently gave a keynote on the topic of simplicity at a management retreat in Germany for a large lighting company. As with most retreats, we did a physical team-building exercise, which in this case was a five-mile hike up a mountain together. At the very top of the mountain, we enjoyed a delicious dinner in an isolated log cabin in the forest. For sure, I expected that we’d be dining with paper plates and plastic flatware, but instead, there were regular plates and metal silverware. I commented to an attendee that this was quite a fancy affair to be having at a camp, to which he replied that it was required by law. Rewinding the day in my head, it occurred to me that even during one of our mountainside pit stops, we were drinking coffee out of regular porcelain cups.

The simplicity of disposable plates and utensils is quite desirable from a time-saving perspective, but their environmental impact is quite complex. McDonough’s mantra of “reuse instead of recycle” echoed in my mind.

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.

Subscribe today
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.