Cradle to Cradle

Re-making the way we make things

by Michael Braungart and William McDonough

We’re going to cheat on this one and use the publisher’s description. It kinda sums it up in a really good way so why not. We will say though that after reading this book you’ll never look at waste nor the ‘thing’ in your hand the same way again. It starts a line of questioning that grows and grows the more you see the possibilities that can come from redefining our current models of production. You’ve been warned.

Reduce, reuse, recycle’ urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. But as architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart point out in this provocative, visionary book, this approach only perpetuates the one-way, ‘cradle to grave’ manufacturing model, dating to the Industrial Revolution, that creates such fantastic amounts of waste and pollution in the first place. Why not challenge the belief that human industry must damage the natural world? In fact, why not take nature itself as our model for making things? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we consider its abundance not wasteful but safe, beautiful and highly effective.

Waste equals food.

Guided by this principle, McDonough and Braungart explain how products can be designed from the outset so that, after their useful lives, they will provide nourishment for something new – continually circulating as pure and viable materials within a ‘cradle to cradle’ model. Drawing on their experience in redesigning everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, McDonough and Braungart make an exciting and viable case for putting eco-effectiveness into practice, and show how anyone involved in making anything can begin to do so as well.


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