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David Bowie: a lesson in reinvention

By 11th January 2016 Blog No Comments

David Bowie passed away yesterday after an 18 month long battle with cancer. I’ll admit I was never what you’d call a fan, but his ability to reinvent himself is a lesson to us all.

I liked some of his music and, when I saw him interviewed, I was impressed by him. But I never bought any of his records.

Apart from his music, as this striking GIF shows, David Bowie will be remembered for his ability to reinvent and renew himself.

It’s something we need to do as a society, but that we often fail at.

We need to adapt to a carbon-constrained world, and one where resources will eventually begin to run short as a result of over-consumption and too much waste. We need to make much better use of raw materials, extending their useful life by returning to the old ways of ‘make-do and mend’. We need to embrace once-loved materials and consumer products and give them a new lease of life. We need to focus more on developing the notion of a sharing economy. And we need to accelerate the shift from a mostly linear to a circular economy.

In short, we need to focus on getting more out of less, but whilst continuing to support jobs and boost economic performance.

Although we don’t always get it right, there are some notable successes.

For instance, in a relatively short time, Britain has vastly reduced its dependency on landfill as the primary method of dealing with waste, and we’ve all helped by accepting the segregation schemes pushed on us at home and in work. Recycling levels have soared as a consequence, helping to establish a profitable new industry.

The next big transition is in energy, where it is hoped we can stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2025 – but we’ll need robust, reliable and cost-effective alternatives to do that, which may mean some communities having to accept the renewable energy schemes brought forward where they live, like wind and solar farms, and perhaps fracking too.

Everyone has a role to play in making these changes, reinventing the way we think about materials, energy and the economy – in the same way that David Bowie constantly reinvented his appearance and musical style.

Change is good. We can learn a lot from him.

RIP David Bowie.

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