Cradle to Cradle is a manifesto for a radically different philosophy and practice of manufacture and environmentalism.
“Reduce, reuse, recycle,” urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in their provocative, visionary book, however, this approach perpetuates a one-way, “cradle to grave” manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world, they ask. In fact, why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective.
“Waste equals food” is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new—either as “biological nutrients” that safely re-enter the environment or as “technical nutrients” that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles, without being “downcycled” into low-grade uses (as most recyclables now are). Elaborating on their principles from experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.
About the Authors
William McDonough is an architect and the founding principal of William McDonough + Partners, Architecture and Community Design, based in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1996 he received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, the highest environmental honor given by the United States. Michael Braungart is a chemist and the founder of the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA) in Hamburg, Germany. Dr. Braungart is the recipient of numerous honors, awards, and fellowships from the Heinz Endowment, the W. Alton Jones Foundation, and other organizations.
In 1995 the authors created McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, a product and systems development firm assisting client companies in implementing their unique sustaining design protocol. Their clients include Ford Motor Company, Nike, Herman Miller, BASF, DesignTex, Pendleton, Volvo, and the city of Chicago. The company’s website can be found at www.mbdc.com.
“The authors’ original concepts are an inspiring reminder that humans are capable of much more elegant environmental solutions than the ones we’ve settled for in the last half-century.”
— Publisher’s Weekly
“Cradle to Cradle is a refreshing change from the intractable environmental conflicts that dominate headlines. It’s a handbook for 21st-century innovation and should be required reading for business hotshots and environmental activists.”
Publisher: North Point Press
208 pages, 5 × 8 inches
ISBN 13: 978-0-86547-587-8
ISBN 10: 0-86547-587-3
Lifestyle & Design