This Could…How Two Words Create Opportunity, Increase Creativity, and Reduce Waste


This Could… is a guide for everyone wanting to do more with what you already have and in the process create new opportunity, increase creativity, and reduce waste.

The book applies principles ranging from permaculture to the circular economy to everything that makes up your daily life. The objects, materials, skills, and everything that shapes your world all contain the ability to do more. The secret to unlocking their extra potential is just two words: “This could…”

This Could… shows how to discover extra abilities in existing resources, and how doing so increases creativity, reduces waste, and helps build a resilient future for yourself and the environment.

The book features How to Do More with What You Have: a six-step guided journey of insights, examples and worksheets to transform the things you already have into platforms of possibility.

The result of decades of Scott Burnham’s work with cities, organizations, and institutions around the world, “This Could…” is a handbook to create real-world solutions without consuming additional resources.



From the Introduction to This Could…

Jackson Pollock was asked in an interview why he painted in a technique so different from the representational style of past artists, and in which he was formally trained. He explained that in an era of great change, “New needs need new techniques.”

“The modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture. Each age finds its own technique.”

Pollock was referring to artistic expression, but the core message is even more relevant today. In an era of unparalleled change and challenges in our resources and environment, we are still expressing ourselves in the old forms of consumption and consumerism.

The vast majority of us no longer create—we consume. We don’t explore the future potential of the things we already have—we discard them and buy more. Decades of consumption have created a regrettable legacy for our time. In the process, we are losing the ability to increase creativity to help navigate our future

Researchers estimate that approximately half the iron, nickel, copper, and other base metals that have been extracted from the ground have been discarded or are no longer in use . The amount of solid waste disposed of in the US has more than doubled in the last 50 years. In 2018 alone, more than 146 million tons of material solid waste were landfilled.

Waste comes in many forms beyond discarded goods. Cities large and small are filled with objects, buildings, and infrastructure, built decades ago to serve people’s needs—as their needs were, decades ago.

These are assets that should be reimagined for better contemporary use to meet the needs of growing and changing populations.

Our age will be defined by what we do with the resources we have, how we behave with our material assets going forward, and how we meet society’s needs with existing assets, reduced budgets, and limited public funds. Previous techniques got us into this situation—new techniques are needed to meet the new needs of the future.

I have spent decades working with cities, organizations, and individuals to do more with the resources they already have. Needs and priorities change with culture and country, but the fulcrum point for change remains the same. Transforming limited resources into platforms of possibilities begins with two words: “This could…”


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