The Next Step Is Natural

January 17, 1996

By Michael Jessen

The Natural Step business-and-life philosopy was developed in Sweden by Karl-Henrik Robert. It is well on its way to becoming the next step in North America.

Much of Sweden's business community has signed on. More than 25 of the largest corporations have changed operations and production processes to support the earth's cyclical biological activity. They have recognized that all linear systems are, by function and definition, limited and short-lived.

An increasing number of U.S. businesses, including Monsanto and Odwalla, are studying the Swedish Natural Step as they await a domestic version.

Business visionary Paul Hawken, president of the American Natural Step group, believes companies must re-envision and re-imagine themselves as cyclical corporations, whose products either literally disappear into harmless components, or whose products are so specific and targeted to a specific function that there is no spillover effect, no waste, no random molecules dancing in the cells of wildlife, in other words, no forms of life must be adversely affected.

Hawken says our commercial system must be based on natural principles.

"If they (companies) believe they are in business to serve people, to help solve problems, to use and employ the ingenuity of their workers to improve the lives of people around them by learning from the nature that gives us life, we have a chance."

All columns archived here are copyright © 1999 by Michael Jessen, all rights reserved. If you wish to print an individual column for your own use, please do so. If you wish to publish any of the columns in either print or electronic format, please contact the author at to arrange appropriate payment.