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 Detailed review of: 

The Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier




Routledge, London. 



John Elkington 



The Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier

Year of Publication











Krishna B. Misra



Review published in IJPE, Vol. 9, No. 3, May 2013, p 304.

The book consists of the following 9 chapters arranged in four parts followed by an Introduction and an

Executive Summary, Foreword, list of acronyms and abbreviations.

Introduction: Helping the Future Take Flight

16 Pages

I. Zero: The New Black

Chapter 1

Breaking the Sustainability Barrier

13 Pages

Chapter 2

Houston, We have A(nother) Problem

13 Pages

Chapter 3

Enter the Zeronauts

18 Pages

II. Cracking the 1-Earth Code

Chapter 4

Turbulent Teens: Our Detox Decode

60 Pages

III. Breaking Through

Chapter 5

The Race to Zero

18 Pages

Chapter 6

Zeronautics 101

39 Pages

Chapter 7

It’s the System That’s Stupid

40 Pages

IV.   Beyond Zero

Chapter 8

Ambassadors from the Future

20 Pages

Chapter 9

The Zero Countdown-and Beyond

06 Pages



03 Pages



16 Pages



08 Pages


The author of the book, John Eklington, is a pioneer of the sustainability movement. He has authored and

9781849713979coauthored several interesting books including 1988’s million-selling Green Consumer Guide and 1997’s Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, the book which brought his triple bottom line concept and agenda to the notice of large audience. He is the Founding Partner and Executive Chairman of Volans, a future-focused business working at the intersection of the sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation movements. He is also the co-founder of SustainAbility.

The present book, The Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier, is about “a new breed of innovators, determined to drive problems such as carbon, waste, toxics, and poverty to zero.” Zeronaut is an inventor, innovator, entrepreneur, investor, manager, or educator, who promotes creation of wealth while driving adverse environmental, social and economic impacts to zero. In other words it beckons to pathways of progress in the 21st Century and for minimizing the consequences of unbridled industrial progress through which much of the pristine environment of this planet has been damaged irreparably. We need to arrest further degradation and the associated climatic consequences of the planet which threatens the well-being of living creatures on the Earth and even threatens the survival of humanity. This calls for

new business and economic models such that a reduction of carbon intensity of every dollar earned by at least 130 times is achieved. This is of course not that easy as said. He sustainability barrier has got to be broken.

The book is written in a very lucid narration and is full of examples that drive home the point being stated. The author has coined some new terms like zeronautics, to explain the concept, which has 5-E

stages, namely, eureka, experimentation, enterprise, ecosystems and economy. Similarly, we come across terms like zeropreneur, zeronomics etc. Another innovation that the author has made for representing a

calendar year by a five digit number instead of usual four ( reasons not indicated) with zero being the first digit of the year. But the reviewer found exception at some place, perhaps an oversight. Some of the zero

memes include zero carbon, zero footprints, zero deforestation, zero desertification, zero emissions, zero toxics. The book is dedicated to Ray Anderson (01934-02011), whom the author calls a radical

industrialist and an early Zeronaut. The author has also provided a roll of 50 Zeronauts, among the figure personalities like Ban Ki-Moon, Lester Brown, Bill and Malina Gates, Al Gore, Muhammad Yunus etc, besides Anderson and organizations like Greenpeace International. In Chapter 5, he talks about corporate

initiatives like Zero defects and Six Sigma, Total Quality Managements etc, which are of interest to quality and reliability buffs.

Over all, the book makes a very interesting reading and should be read by all future looking entrepreneurs, engineers and technocrats who believe in sustainable development.                            

- Krishna B. Misra

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