Cradle to Cradle

Cradle to Cradle

Remaking the Way We Make Things

Book - 2002
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Baker & Taylor
Challenges the concept that industry must inevitably damage the natural environment as it argues that products should be designed so that after their useful life they provide nourishment for something else--as biological nutrients that safely reenter the environment or as technical nutrients that circulate within closed-loop industrial circles. 15,000 first printing.

McMillan Palgrave

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. But as this provocative, visionary book argues, 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?

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; hence, "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 their principles from experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, William McDonough and Michael Braungart make an exciting and viable case for change.

Book News
Architect McDonough and chemist Braungart use this little book with its curved corners and strangely smooth paper to embody and represent one of two kinds of engineering which they advocate: development of materials that can be perpetually reused in technology (the authors claim the material can be continually remade into other books and recycled). The other heralded mode of engineering promises the elimination of anthropogenic waste which is not biodegradable into food. In sum, the two maker-thinkers promote the manufacture of objects that usefully die by means of processes and objects that usefully never die. One of the more memorable phrases, "less bad is no good," relates to their envisioned industrial re-revolution, one in which reduction, reuse, and recycling pale in comparison to upcycling, where products nourish or help nourish the planet. No index and few bibliographic notes. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New York : North Point Press, 2002
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780865475878
Characteristics: 193 p. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Braungart, Michael 1958-


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Dec 05, 2012

I am a college student and one of my teachers recommended this book to me seeing as I have an interest in and a passion for sustainability. This is a truly influential and revolutionary book. It is written for the layperson and conveys an idea that is so fundamental and powerful for us (humans) that I'm surprised it took me until college to learn about it. I think everyone should read this book and learn from it. It is definitely a worthwhile read.

May 18, 2010

For myself, this has been one of the most influential environmental books I've read because it provides a simple, but powerful lens that shows how we can re-imagine the world as we re-design the way the we make things.

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