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The Capacity to Endure: Following Nature’s Lead

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Author(s): Frank Fogarty | Amy Villamagna | Allen Whitley | Kelly Pippins

Journal: Sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050

Volume: 5;
Issue: 6;
Start page: 2480;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: sustainability | ecosystem attributes | sustainable business

ABSTRACT
Many businesses today are striving to improve their environmental sustainability for a variety of reasons, ranging from consumer demand for “greener” products to potential cost-savings. For many business decision-makers who lack formal environmental training, the process of identifying facets of their organization that can be improved is unclear and challenging. Inspired by the fields of biomimicry, industrial ecology and organizational ecology, this paper draws on the inherent capacity to endure (CTE) of the natural world and recognizes that ecosystem function can be used as a technical advisor to guide business sustainability. We identified major attributes of ecosystems that both contribute to their CTE and can be easily translated into applications for the business world. Each of these attributes (fitness, functional redundancy, keystone species, waste and efficiency) and their applications are discussed at length. While further work is needed to evaluate their effectiveness and appropriateness for individual firms, we hope they can serve as a starting point for businesses seeking to improve their environmental sustainability.
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