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Inspiring Quotations

"Everything is connected to everything else" is often called the First Law of Ecology. Helping human society to prosper in the 21st century requires that we recognize the importance of living in balance with our physical environment and treating each other with dignity and equity. We offer the following quotations to help inspire corporate and community social responsibility.

"The future belongs to those who understand that doing more with less is compassionate, prosperous, and enduring, and thus more intelligent, even competitive."
Paul Hawken

"The most meaningful activity in which a human can be engaged is one that is directly related to human evolution. This is true because human beings now play an active and critical role not only in the process of their own evolution but in the survival and evolution of all living beings. Awareness of this places upon human beings a responsibility for their participation in and contribution to the process of evolution. If humankind would accept and acknowledge this responsibility and become creatively engaged in the process of metabiological evolution consciously, as well as unconsciously, a new reality would emerge, and a new age would be born."

Jonas Salk

"If they [companies] believe they are in business to serve people, to help solve problems, to use and employ the ingenuity of their workers to improve the lives of people around them by learning from the nature that gives us life, we have a chance."

Paul Hawken

"Business is the economic engine of our Western culture, and if it could be transformed to truly serve nature as well as ourselves, it could become essential to our rescue."

Karl-Henrik Robert, Founder of The Natural Step

"By accepting responsibility, we take effective steps toward our goal: an inclusive human society on a habitable planet, a society that works for all humans and for all nonhumans. By accepting responsibility, we move closer to creating a world that works for all."

Sharif M. Abdullah

"The time is always right to do what is right."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

"We must do what we conceive to be right and not bother our heads or burden our souls with whether we'll be successful. Because if we don't do the right thing, we'll do the wrong thing and we'll be part of the disease and not part of the cure."

E.F. (Fritz) Schumacher

"If we were not provided with the knack of being wrong, we could never get anything useful done. We think our way along by choosing between right and wrong alternatives, and the wrong choices have to be made as frequently as the right ones."

Lewis Thomas

"Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

Mark Twain

"There is no sense and no sanity in objecting to the desecration of the flag while tolerating and justifying and encouraging as a daily business the desecration of the country for which it stands."

Wendell Berry

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare."

Japanese Proverb

"Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul."

Edward Abbey

"We need a new system of values, a system of the organic unity between humankind and nature and the ethic of global responsibility."
Mikhail Gorbachev, President, Green Cross International

"You don't filter smokestacks or water. Instead, you put the filter in your head and design the problem out of existence."

William McDonough

"The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas."

Linus Pauling

"Great ideas come into the world as gently as doves."

Albert Camus

"I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering."

Thich Nhat Han

"The world is not divided into two types of being, one superior and the other merely surrounding it. Being, nature, the universe - they are all one infinitely complex and mysterious metaorganism of which we are but a part, though a unique one."

Vaclav Havel

"Our world today is marked by Auto-Totality (using Vaclav Havel's term). Auto-Totality is like a totalitarian system, but unlike the monarchist, fascist, or communist systems with which we are familiar, Auto-Totality is not created or kept in place by military force or secret police. It is kept in place by me, you, all of us. Collectively, our millions of actions every day create, support, reinforce, and maintain a system in which no one is free. In traditional dictatorships, kicking out the ruling clique meant that something changed. Under Auto-Totality, we keep kicking out the incumbents, but the beast lives on. The problem is not bad people but a bad system."

Sharif M. Abdullah

"Nothing happens unless first a dream."

Carl Sandburg

"The future is not completely beyond our control. It is the work of our own hands."

Robert F. Kennedy

"Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about."
World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, 1992

"The 'environmental crisis' has happened because the human household or economy is in conflict at almost every point with the household of nature. We have built our household on the assumption that the natural household is simple and can be simply used. We have assumed increasingly over the last five hundred years that nature is merely a supply of 'raw materials,' and that we may safely possess those materials by taking them.... And so we will be wrong if we attempt to correct what we perceive as 'environmental' problems without correcting the economic oversimplification that caused them."

Wendell Berry

"Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyle."

Pope John Paul II

"With each passing day, it is becoming increasingly clear that the strategy of environmental exploitation that characterized the 20th century is reaching the end of its natural life. We are in the early stages of a transition from an attitude that, in Herman Daly's felicitous phrase, 'treats the Earth like a business in liquidation' to one that is committed to preserving the planet's 'natural capital.' The principle underlying this shift is really quite simple: if we want a high quality of life for ourselves and future generations - a high quality of life in all its senses - we cannot continue to degrade the quality of the natural systems of which we are a part."

Carl Frankel

"Social obligation is much bigger than supporting worthy causes. It includes anything that impacts people and the quality of their lives ."
William Ford Jr., Chairman, Ford Motor Co.

"Fairness is an efficiency parameter if we look at the whole global civilization. It is not an efficient way of meeting human needs if one billion people starve while another billion have excess. It would be more efficient to distribute resources so that at least vital needs were met everywhere. Otherwise, for example, if kids are starving somewhere, dad goes out to slash and burn the rain forest to feed them -- and so would I if my kids were dying. And this kind of destruction is everyone's problem, because we live in the same ecosphere."

Karl-Henrik Robert, Founder of The Natural Step

"Above all, we should question the consumer ethic, which uses up non-renewable resources, creates inequality and injustice, generates pollution, destroys other species and upsets the balance of nature. The consumer ethic not only defiles the environment by creating undesirable change in the biosphere but also corrupts the mind and body by defining pleasure in terms of ownership and absorption. Waste itself is a human concept; everything in nature is eventually used. If human beings carry on in their present ways, they will one day be recycled along with the dinosaurs."

Peter Marshall

"The intention of this way of life [voluntary simplicity] is not to dogmatically live with less. It's a more demanding intention of living with balance. This is a middle way that moves between the extremes of poverty and indulgence."

Duane Elgin

"We can no longer have everything we want, but we can be more than we imagined."
Howard Jerome

"Having more and newer things each year has become not just something we want but something we need. The idea of more, of ever increasing wealth, has become the center of our identity and our security, and we are caught up by it as the addict by his drugs."

Paul Wachtel

"The level of consumption that we identify with success is utterly unsustainable. We're gobbling up the world."

John Robbins

"We must convince each generation that they are transient passengers on this planet earth. It does not belong to them. They are not free to doom generations yet unborn. They are not at liberty to erase humanity's past nor dim its future."

Bernard Lown and Evjueni Chazov

"To achieve true sustainability, we must reduce our 'garbage index" - that which we permanently throw away into the environment that will not be naturally recycled for reuse - to near zero. Productive activities must be organized as closed systems. Minerals and other nonbiodegradable resources, once taken from the ground, must become a part of society's permanent capital stock and be recycled in perpetuity. Organic materials may be disposed into the natural ecosystems, but only in ways that assure that they are absorbed back into the natural production system."

David Korten

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

Aldo Leopold

"We have a responsibility to look after our planet. It is our only home."

The Dalai Lama

"Out of all those millions and millions of planets floating around there in space, this is our planet, this is our little one, so we just got to be aware of it and take care of it."

Paul McCartney

"The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects."
Thomas Berry

"Since after extinction no one will be present to take responsibility, we have to take full responsibility now."

Jonathan Schell

"The good news is that . . . humans are gifted by the potential for self-awareness and intelligent choice, and knowing our circumstance is an invitation to change."

William Rees

"Dare to be naive."

Buckminster Fuller

"Yet to me it's always seemed that when you have an economic system whose major tenets are planned obsolescence and conspicuous consumption, which is American climax capitalism's major litany, you basically are dealing with an economic system that's run on a formula for planetary suicide."

John Nichols

"Living capital, which has the special capacity to continuously regenerate itself, is ultimately the source of all real wealth. To destroy it for money, a simple number with no intrinsic value, is an act of collective insanity -- which makes capitalism a mental, as well as physical pathology."

David Korten

"We must go through a natural revolution if we are to survive on earth. We need to change people's perceptions. If there's no environment, there's no human race. We are in a state of global denial."

Ted Turner

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I don't believe that the solutions in society will come from the left or the right or the north or the south. They will come from islands within those organizations, islands of people with integrity who want to do something."
Karl-Henrik Robert - Founder of The Natural Step

"Anything we do randomly and frequently starts to make its own sense and changes the world into itself. Anything you want there to be more of, do it randomly. Don't wait for reasons. It will make itself be more, senselessly. Scrawl it on the wall: Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty."

Anne Herbert and Margaret Pavel

"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."

Mark Twain

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"As we pursue our strategies world-wide, we accept a social and environmental responsibility as well. These responsibilities include the promotion of a sustainable economy and recognition of the accountability we have to the economies, environments, and communities where we do business around the world."

John F. Smith, Jr. - GM CEO and President

"The path to relative economic, social and ecological sustainability is guaranteed to be littered with failures of every nature and scale. If we recognize them and learn from them, the transition will proceed faster and in more resource-efficient ways. If, on the other hand, we prefer the short-term comfort of burying our failures, or of blaming scapegoats, the transition will be significantly slowed, or could even be derailed completely."

John Elkington

"We should all be concerned about the future because we have to spend the rest of our lives there."
Francis Kettering

"The journey to a different future must begin by defining the problem differently than we have done until now. . . The task is not to find substitutes for chemicals that disrupt hormones, attack the ozone layer, or cause still undiscovered problems, though it may be necessary to use replacements as a temporary measure. The task that confronts us over the next half century is one of redesign."

Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, John Peterson Myers

"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

Albert Einstein

"Only human intelligence grows with use."

J. Gary Lawrence

"Education for sustainability is a lifelong learning process that leads to an informed and involved citizenry having the creative problem-solving skills, scientific and social literacy, and commitment to engage in responsible individual and cooperative actions. These actions will help ensure an environmentally sound and economically prosperous future."

The Vision of Second Nature

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of birds, the ebb and flow of tides, the folded bud ready for spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after the night and spring after the winter."

Rachel Carson

"The major problems in the world are the result of the differences between the way nature works and the way people think."

Gregory Bateson

"You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him to discover it within himself."

Galileo

"Some social factors, such as public attitudes and political consensus, can change very rapidly - far more rapidly than population size or energy consumption."

Allen Hammond

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead

"What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?."
Henry David Thoreau

"There are two laws that we had better take to be absolute. The first is that as we cannot exempt ourselves from living in this world, then if we wish to live, we cannot exempt ourselves from using the world. If we cannot exempt ourselves from use, then we must deal with the issues raised by use. And so the second law is that if we want to continue living, we cannot exempt use from care."

Wendell Berry

"Tug on anything in nature and you will find it connected to everything else."

John Muir

"Human societies as temporally and spatially far-flung as the Mesopotamians, Mayans, and Easter Islanders likely came to ruin by expanding beyond the capacity of their environments to sustain them."

William Rees

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Yogi Berra

"More than at any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Woody Allen

"If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed."

Chinese Proverb

"It's not where you are, it's where you're headed that matters."

Joey Smallwood

"If you don't know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere."

Henry Kissinger

"If you don't know where you're going.... You might not get there."

Yogi Berra

"It's all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story."

Thomas Berry

"A good company delivers excellent products and services, and a great company does all that and strives to make the world a better place."
William Ford Jr., Chairman, Ford Motor Co.

"In the past, it was possible to destroy a village, a town, a region, even a country. Now it is the whole planet that has come under threat. This fact should compel everyone to face a basic moral consideration; from now on, it is only through a conscious choice and then deliberate policy that humanity will survive."

Pope John Paul II

"A renewal of economic life depends on the conscious choices and commitments of individual believers who practice their faith in the world . . . we cannot separate what we believe from how we act in the marketplace and the broader community."

Pastoral letter on the US economy, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC

"To create a world in which life can flourish and prosper we must replace the values and institutions of capitalism with values and institutions that honor life, serve life's needs, and restore money to its proper role as servant. I believe we are in fact being called to take a step to a new level of species consciousness and function."

David Korten

"We are forced to choose, for the processes we have initiated in our lifetime cannot continue in the lifetime of our children. Whatever we do either creates the framework for continuing the supreme adventure of life and consciousness on this planet or sets the stage for its termination. The choice before us is urgent and important: it can neither be postponed nor ignored."

Ervin Laszlo

"All things are possible once enough human beings realize that everything is at stake."

Norman Cousins

"I believe it to be perfectly possible for an individual to adopt the way of life of the future. . . without having to wait for others to do so."
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Give your business a sustainable future. Contact Michael Jessen at Zero Waste Solutions: 250-229-5632 or zerowaste@shaw.ca


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