The idea of natural capitalism is one of the results of the Industrial Revolution that continues to grow in influence in modern times. This is an emerging econopolitical movement that stems directly from the changes brought about during the industrial period.
The concept is essentially a business model that hopes to recognize the post-industrial scarcity of natural resources, and to operate by using these efficiently to preserve them, thereby helping the environment as well as those who live in it. In other words, the ultimate goal will be natural capital – the resources and systems existing naturally on Earth that are impossible to recreate or replace. This includes human and societal capital, the people who work for, purchase services from, or surround the company as well as their culture.
The proposed system would operate on four basic tenets. The first involves increasing the use of resources such as energy and raw material more efficiently with newly developed technology. The second proposes the use of closed-loop systems – those in which all wastes are used for additional production – whenever possible, in order to decrease resource consumption and waste and bolster efficiency. Thirdly, the plan suggests using resources to provide continuous services or maintenance rather than to sell items, for increased stability. Finally, a business following the natural capitalist model would reinvest some profit into society or the environment, both of which would eventually produce the labor and raw material the company would require.
Essentially, the idea is to increase productive efficiency by minimizing waste and accounting for losses and gains in natural, human, and societal capital.
This business model is obviously not applicable in full measure to every business. For example, it would be difficult to eliminate production altogether in order to focus on services. This is why the theory also stresses the concept of sustainability: For a company to succeed using this form of business, as with any model, it must apply its principles to such an extent as they are financially and environmentally sustainable and manage to provide consumers with the desired end product.
However, this movement is a sign that the financial models and environmental awareness of the Industrial Revolution continues to have an impact on economic thought and theory.
“NATURAL CAPITALISM: CREATING THE NEXT INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.” 2006, Rocky Mountain Institute. 2 December 2005 . < http://www.natcap.org/sitepages/pid5.php >.
“What is Natural Capitalism?” Rocky Mountain Institute. 2005. 2 December 2005 . < http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid564.php >.
“Sustainability.” Wikipedia. 2 December 2005 . < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability >.