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Natural Capitalism

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,813 ratings  ·  147 reviews
This groundbreaking book reveals how today's global businesses can be both environmentally responsible and highly profitable. ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published October 12th 2000 by Back Bay Books (first published September 30th 1999)
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Strigo Nokta No way. Proof? Please refer to" The New Human Rights Movement: Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression "…moreNo way. Proof? Please refer to" The New Human Rights Movement: Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression "(less)

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May 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
I chose this book for my reading list this quarter because it is one of the most widely discussed books on the transition from our current unsustainable economic system to a more sustainable system. Natural Capitalism is listed amongst the books on Evergreen’s sustainability webpage, so I thought it was important in my path to understanding the various aspects of sustainability. It was then so unsatisfying then that this book is so significantly flawed. The author’s believe that the transition w ...more
Feb 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Libertarians will love this book.

“We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us.” – Wendell Berry.

Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins open the book with this quote, which I agree with. Where Hawken, Lovins, and Lovins and I disagree is the path to getting there.

What is Natural Capita
Noël Coenraad
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A vital read for anyone that wants to work in the field of sustainability! Although the examples haven't aged well, the concepts are current and form a foundation for future developments. Furthermore, its a textbook written as a novel to keep the readers engaged. ...more
Jun 10, 2007 rated it did not like it

ugh. utterly unrealistic book in the vein of "green capitalism," i.e. myth-making for the sake of preserving power hierarchies that dominate us and destroy the planet.
Jeffrey Prins
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
A good source of reference, full of examples that are still relevant today, how to respect all forms/sources of capital/wealth.
Gary Bruff
This book lays out an economic program with a great deal of vision. Even though the ideas elaborated upon here seem in most cases like the best courses for economic action, it is doubtful for a number of reasons whether American society will be willing to accept these remedies for what ails us all.

I read this maybe ten years ago, so I am only able to present the ideas that made a vivid impression to me.

Pipes. Taking it as a given that we need to dispense with carbon fuels, the idea of hooking up
Leonkm08 AWOL
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On a society based upon this system, we have to manage ourselves to be responsible with the planet and our environment. Take care of it and try to make the less negative impact on it and also being affordable for the businessman and profitable.
Aug 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Capitalism is probably here to stay. While there are alternatives that can work on a local level, I remain unconvinced that these can either be dispersed widely enough or "scaled up" enough to supplant capitalism as a whole. So the question becomes: how can we make it less damaging -- to our environment? -- to our spirit?

The answer proposed in this book is, simply put, to appeal to the logic of capitalism: i.e. profits. Being good makes sense because it makes money.

Well, almost. While their desc
Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.

Natural Capitalism suggests that the world is on the verge of a new industrial revolution - one that promises to transform our fundamental notions about commerce and its role in shaping our future. The authors describe a future in which business and environmental interests increasingly overlap, and in which companie
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Readers are offered a view of the sustainability movement during the late 1990's in Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory B. Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins. It was first published in 1999. A 10th Anniversay Edition was published in 2010 with a new introduction by Amory B. Lovins and Paul Hawken that updates the story to include successes of the last decade.

The Bottom Line

Reading about sustainability from a distance of over a decade gave me a new perspec
Jun 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book was supposed to present the argument for a green economy, an argument that saving the environment is good business, and thereby inspire capitalists and captains of industry to make investments to reduce waste, re-purpose technology, and recycle materials for both corporate public accountability and high long-term financial payoffs.

In reality, although oddly prescient in 1999 for certain developments of the 21st Century, this work is grossly naive, making bold assertions laid on a soft,
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a surprising book. Written by three economists, it reads as one would expect: lots of repetition and economic data encoded in a cascade of prose. However, it is clever, insightful, humorous (at key points), and optimistic in outlining how we can adjust our industrial capitalistic worldview to a more natural capitalistic worldview. The natural capital - the planet and all its resources: air, land, soil, water, coral, ice etc - that we have for the most part not taken into consideration when ...more
Not quick or easy (nor off-puttingly technical), but this book has a ton of great information about what it means to overhaul society to make it greener and how doing do would make it a less anti-social society.
Best read over tea, and not necessarily in order.
Generally, there is a specter haunting non fiction, namely that the authors take about 35% more pages than they need to expound their ideas. I want to scream "I GET IT! LET'S MOVE ON!" but no one is listening.
I'm sure there were some excell
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life and set me on my current path, which I hope will be a career in corporate sustainability. Basically, this is a primer for the next industrial revolution which we are currently entering and seeks to change the paradigm which says sustainability and a good bottom line for countries/corporations are mutually exclusive. In fact, it is now emerging to be just the opposite. The Lovines and Hawkin were prophetic in their predictioins, as we are now seeing what they spelled out ...more
Oct 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much from this book that it is impossible to record in one review. To some extent I already knew or knew of many theories and approaches outlined in Natural Capitalism, however, finding it all in one coherent and interesting presentation was refreshing.

It has clearly refreshed and renewed my desire to study further system engineering approaches to civic problems.

More review details at:
Ross Venook
Dec 05, 2006 rated it it was amazing
Not terribly easy to read, but full of vision and inspiring tales of companies that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

For a preview (or the whole book, if you're a cheap student) you can download pdf's chapter by chapter at [].
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book should be a must read for every single person in America. Whether you believe that Global Warming is happening or not, it gives food for thought on how simple changes can have a big impact on how we consume.
Nathan Albright
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: challenge-2019
But is it capitalism?  About the highest praise I can give this book is that it is not complete rubbish.  There are aspects of this book, particularly the way that it encourages a wise environmental stewardship and the skillful use of technology as well as intelligent design to make processes as well as buildings less wasteful.  Unfortunately, with that sound advice comes a great deal of writing which is unsound, which repeats tired cliches about the Club of Rome's limits to growth, with strong ...more
Aurin Shaila Nusrat Sheyck
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“I don't want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers.”— John Davison Rockefeller. John D. Rockefeller was an American business tycoon and industrialist. I quoted him to illustrate that how capitalism really works, and this book serves as a cornerstone to refute the claim that exploiting capital will sustainably maximize wealth without posing any threat in the long term.

Even after 19 years of its publication, “Natural Capitalism: Creating the next Industrial Revolution” co-authored by
Reagen Ward
Dec 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Well written and researched, insightful, and easy to read.... But oh so very wrong.

I simply can't agree with the core proposition of the book - that private enterprise is the future of environmentalism. In our society and economy, I do believe that our companies absolutely have a moral obligation to be stewards of our future just as we all do, but the reality is that few corporations would agree unless 1. driven by responsible leadership / bylaws (ie. Patagonia, B corps), 2. focused on a custome
Mar 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting points. Dense and hard to read. Not a leisure book, more like something that would be provided as course material to study.
Some of my favorite excerpts from the book below:
-"A successful business in the new era of natural capitalism will respect and understand all four views. It will realize that solutions lie in understanding the interconnectedness of problems not in confronting them in isolation."
-"Today the central issues for thoughtful and successful industries--the two being inc
Rob Melich
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most of the case studies are dated but insightful. So much expressed by this book has moved forward except for the contentious climate change debate. So sad.
Highly recommend chapters 1-3 and 13-15 and the notes.
An excellent primer for anyone looking for a vision to save the planet for our future generations.
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment
This is definitely a dense read, but it was the kind of book that throughout the time I was reading it, I kept telling people about things I found interesting. I really appreciate the approach to systems that incorporates natural and human capital and environmental considerations. It only frustrates me that this book is 20 years old and so many of our systems haven't changed. ...more
Sam Bayat
It’s an interesting and very important piece of environmental literacy, especially for its time. However, the structure of the book is very hard to follow as each chapter is too long and filled with just too much information for a normal reader to digest. Despite, I picked up great insights from it, especially regarding the manufacturing sector and material.
Jon Wlasiuk
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it
While dated, Hawken introduces a concept that has yet to capture the attention of economists: the materialist perspective of Adam Smith and Karl Marx took ecosystem services for granted and should be amended.
Jennifer S.
Mar 23, 2021 rated it liked it
I read through this with a book club at work. It spurred on really fruitful, interesting conversation, but man, is it dense!
I will more consider it a reference book on my shelf because the authors touch on so many points related to our overall economy and environment.
Gabriel Husain
this was wild. ahaha like what
Kate Jeremko
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Empowering read for environmentalists
Anneliese Marie
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Still painfully prescient and relevant over 20 years after publication.
Preston Kutney
This is a book that I wish every business leader and policy maker would read. The book is a little outdated, and it is not without its flaws (chiefly the naive optimism the authors display that sustainable business practices are imminent and inevitable), but I thought the authors did an incredible job of outlining the structural deficiencies in the traditional capitalist system to address ongoing environmental degradation and depletion issues AND identifying major sources of systemic waste and p ...more
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Paul Hawken is the co-founder of several businesses, and lives in Sausalito, California.

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