The Brooklyn Bridge: Bloomberg's Ethical Consumption Dilemma

In one of my previous ethical consumption posts, I blogged about the challenges associated with using salvaged wood as an alternative to new sustainably harvested wood.  The upshot of my experience was that staying true to the past isn’t always easy.  There’s a reason that people often go for the less sustainable alternative.

The article I wrote was about the challenge of staying true to both sustainability and historic preservation within a relatively small space (a few hundred square feet).  Knowing what I know now based on my experience, I was particularly interested to read about a similar question Mayor Bloomberg is facing in trying to maintain the Brooklyn Bridge’s original glory.

Here’s Mayor Bloomberg’s conundrum.  According to a New York Times article published this morning, the bridge is made of 11,000 tropical wood planks, all of which are traversed by millions of people each day.  The Mayor has come out publicly against use of tropical hardwoods for city infrastructure, but a designer is campaigning to establish an endowed forest in Guyana to be managed sustainably for the sole purpose of providing materials to replenish the Brooklyn Bridge in perpetuity.

The Mayor has not yet weighed in on this proposal, so it is unclear whether he has given any thought to this possibility.  His track record of initiating sustainability measures such as a tax on plastic bags and a ban on cars in certain downtown locations reflects a focus on ethical consumption decisions that fully reflect the triple bottom line ideal.  In other words, if a sustainability initiative doesn’t save the city money, it doesn’t make the cut.

What barriers might exist to the Mayor adopting the designer’s plan for the Brooklyn Bridge?  Aside from the possibility that the idea hasn’t yet hit his radar (just because a New York Times reporter considers a story newsworthy doesn’t mean the idea is top-of-mind for government officials), it is also conceivable that the Mayor is worried that the idea won’t save the city money.  After all, it is unclear from the article who would manage the endowment and the specially-dedicated forest in perpetuity.  And on this note, it is also conceivable that the Mayor doesn’t want to deal with extending his area of geographic responsibility from already-complicated New York City to a remote party of Guyana.

It will be interesting to watch this ethical consumption issue in coming weeks and see if it garners a response from the Mayor’s Office.   Any next step or response will certainly shed light on the Mayor’s sustainability agenda.

Photo credit: ** Maurice **