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From the text: Waste allows us to see our civilisation back-to-front. If we examine what we throw away (and why, when and how we remove it from our surroundings) we can understand who we are and where we are going. Starting from refuse, we can reconstruct the development of our civilisation and evaluate our standards of living and margins of survival. Thinking about the ‘end of life’ of things has brought about a paradigm shift. This new way of thinking about production and resources is important as our survival depends on our ability to safeguard and generate ‘natural capital’. Our economic system must take sustainability into account so that, rather than producing ever greater quantities of goods, we produce them better so that we enjoy the same standard of living while using less resources and less energy.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.