Action Research Books

Social Justice, Environment and Livability books from MIT Press

Materials Matter

Materials Matter:
Toward a Sustainable Materials Policy

Kenneth Geiser and Barry Commoner

June 2001, MIT Press

The products we purchase and use are assembled from a wide range of naturally occurring and manufactured materials. But too often we create hazards for the ecosystem and human health as we mine, process, distribute, use, and dispose of these materials. Until recently, most research has focused on the waste end of material cycles. This book argues that the safest and least costly point at which to avoid environmental damage is when materials are first designed and selected for use in industrial production.

Materials Matter presents convincing evidence that we can use fewer materials and eliminate the use of many toxic chemicals by focusing directly on material (chemical) use when products are designed. It also shows how manufacturers can save money by increasing the effectiveness of material use and reducing the use of toxic chemicals. It advocates new directions for the material sciences and government policies on materials. And it argues that manufacturers, suppliers, and customers need to set more socially responsible policies for products and services to achieve higher environmental and health goals.

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