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Material Matters

For Thomas Rau and Sabine Oberhuber, the search for a sustainable relationship between humans and Earth began years ago, born out of a strong sense of necessity. Over the course of more than a decade, they closely studied the problematic aspects of the current economic and cultural situation. They formulated problems, solutions and ideas, and used those—in their company, Turntooto develop practical concepts. Many of those concepts and solutions are being enthusiastically adopted by society as well as the business community.

In 2015, Thomas was invited to talk about his vision during an episode of the Dutch television series ‘VPRO Tegenlicht’. Thomas and Sabine considered it a good opportunity to look back on the insights gained over the preceding decade—and to summarise those insights to form a coherent philosophy. And so it came to pass; the broadcast became a raving success—it was one of the series’ best viewed episodes ever and, later, it was voted that season’s favourite episode.

Encouraged by the interest in their philosophy, Thomas and Sabine decided to also present it in a more traditional way: they wrote a book, entitled Material Matters.

Main subject of the book is the theorem of there being alternatives to our ways of consumption and production. The pair takes the reader on an intellectual expedition, along the history of planned ageing, via the fundamental finiteness of the Earth’s closed system, to our anthropocentric thinking which continues to severely limit our perspective.

Along the way, the book reveals the contours of a novel system; an economic model in which consumers are users rather than owners, one in which materials are awarded rights—and waste has become a thing of the past.

Material Matters was longlisted for the Dutch Management Book of the Year 2017 award and shortlisted for the Dutch book award ‘Boekenprijs 2018’. The Dutch edition of the book, to date, has sold over 20,000 copies.

In 2018, Material Matters was also published in Germany and Italy. An update of the German edition was published in 2021.

English language edition available
December 2022 saw both the long-awaited English-language edition of Material Matters by Routledge and a revised edition of the Dutch edition; the 13th edition.  

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The real challenge is not the changing climate;  it’s changing our minds

Thomas Rau

Thomas Rau