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Restore: an R of sustainability that can tame the “conundrum”

Eckart Bindewald1,2

Abstract

The environmental benefits of sustainability efforts can be rendered less effective due to economic feedback mechanisms. As a remedy against such rebound effects, a reinvestment strategy towards environmental causes has been suggested. Here, a practical implementation of such a reinvestment strategy is presented. It involves a) estimating the financial savings resulting from sustainability efforts, b) informing the participants that the environmental benefit of the efforts is reduced by economic feedback mechanisms and c) asking them to donate a fraction of the expected savings towards environmental causes. An easy-to-use methodology for estimating rebound effects of sustainability efforts is presented in order to quantify the efficacy of this approach. CO2 emission offsets are used as an example of donations towards environmental causes. It is shown, that donating even a small amount (less than 1% of financial savings obtained from conservation or engineering savings) of donated carbon offsets can more than eliminate the estimated rebound effects. This then leads to the restore principle, that states that the environmental benefit of reducing activities with average environmental impact is dramatically improved if a fraction of the resulting financial savings is applied towards environmental causes. This approach is made practical by augmenting the common reduce, reuse, recycle motto with a fourth component: reduce, reuse, recycle and restore.


Keywords

rebound; donation; voluntary efforts; carbon offset; restore

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18063/esp.v3.i2.619
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