I just watched the following video of world-champion sailor Ellen MacArthur making the case for a closed loop resource management. It was included in the description of a contest on DesignBoom for re-imagining the Renault 4. The Renault 4 was conceived of as “the blue jeans car”—a vehicle that would be adopted across class and social boundaries, just as blue jeans have been. Now they want to revive the car for its 50th anniversary with an important addition: sustainability. They are being ambitious in not just asking how they can minimize impact on the environment, but actually make a positive impact.

I love this cradle-to-cradle thinking from Renault and it’s refreshing to see that Ellen MacArthur has given up yacht racing to focus on issues that have a bit more import. Her point at the beginning of the video about how one manages the resources on a sailboat down to the last detail made me think of Joe Miller’s story/poem of how people would marvel at a miniature version of the Earth. At sea, a sailboat becomes the whole world, so it’s easy to comprehend the very real limits to what one has. On land, it’s easy to forget about the rest of the world beyond the horizon, or even outside of the room one’s in.

Now, anybody have any ideas on how to build a sustainable, egalitarian car?

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