Read Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart William McDonough Online


'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 amo'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....

Title : Cradle to Cradle
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 18817072
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Cradle to Cradle Reviews

  • Lisa
    2019-04-22 18:10

    Three stars doesn't quite do justice to this book. Its ideas merit five stars, but the text sags a bit and tends to repeat itself a lot, thereby losing some power. What the text lacks in eloquence, however, it makes up for in tactility. I couldn't stop petting this book. Its "synthetic paper" pages felt so resilient and smooth and sleek. The authors chose to make a recyclable, "treeless" book from from plastic resins and inorganic fillers. It is waterproof and with a certain treatment its pages can be wiped clean and reprinted with a new text. It has the capacity to be recycled as a book many times over or it could be reincarnated as another plastic item... ....To my experience only vellum and leather beats the overall sensory experience this text offers.I first learned of McDonough--an architect with an amazing, cavernous mind--when I read a sermon he delievered at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City entitled "Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things." The piece is brilliant and beautiful and I wish everyone would read it. It contains many of the ideas presented in Cradle to Cradle in a much more compelling, succinct way. Here is a link to an awkardly formated, but well-proofed pdf of the piece:Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things by William McDonoughThis is an HTML version that might be easier to look at in some ways but is sloppy with lots of typos:Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things by William McDonoughIn Cradle to Cradle, McDonough (an American architect) and Braungart (a German chemist) uncover the way that bio-destructive practices permeate every aspect of our lives. They describe how toxic materials are hidden in almost everything around us: our fabrics and textiles, our machines, our food containers, our food!, our toiletries, our technology, our furniture, our buildings, etc, etc. It's truly staggering. Their section on water was also particularly memorable. I learned that households are responsible for much more water pollution than I had previously thought. (I formerly saw water pollution as primarily an industrial transgression.) But no, we flush loads of chemicals down the drain in the form of household cleaners/soaps, other home maintenance materials, art supplies, etc. Additionally, we flush chemo, hormones, and other medicated effluents into our waterways from our homes and hospitals. And now, with our culture's obsession with "antibacterial" cleansers, we're suffusing our waste water with bacteria-killing elements that prevent the breakdown of our sewage and slop. ***After reading this section, I went out and bought all non-toxic, biodegreadable (this is key!) soaps and household cleaners: I'm particularly in love with Mrs. Meyers and Method products. For antibacterial action, I've heard it's best to stick with good old fashioned alchohol (applied with friction), which does the job and then becomes inactive in 15 minutes.****Though McDonough and Braungart expertly outline the disastrous, bio-destructive systems we have created, their book is only about these problems insofar as it seeks to understand them--because it believes we can fix them all through good design. Good design (in an environmental sense) has been nearly dead for over one hundred years and McDonough and Braungart are trying to revive it. Because the industrial revolution furnished us with the fossil fuel power to override natural systems and natural energy flows, design has paid little attention to natural systems and natural energy flows for the past century. For example, architects no longer situate buildings, their windows, and surrounding trees with regard to the patterns of the sun, instead they disregard this free and powerful energy source and design our buildings with artificial systems--electric lights, AC, central heat, etc.--to regulate light and temperature indoors. And this is how we design most things and most products... But, we pay through the nose to live this way--to live within poor, unintelligently designed infrastructure that is ignorant of the natural systems and energy flows in which it exists (like a foreign body or alien cancer)--sacrificing huge financial resources, large swaths of land, our health and the health of other living things....even (I believe) sacrificing the peace of nations. In a grand metaphorical sense, this book wants to take us back to the old New England saltbox house. One that was intelligently built of natural, local materials, with south facing windows and nearby stand of deciduous trees that allow copious sunlight in during the winter months (when the sun is low and the trees are bare) and then alternatively blocks the sunlight during the hot summer months (when the sun is high and reflects off the deep eaves of the roof and is absorbed by the fully maned trees). And I for one want to go there.

  • Daniel
    2019-04-28 17:18

    The central issue in this book is the notion that we can manufacture products and infrastructure that are really, actually good for the environment instead of simply being "less bad".Here's an example of what on Earth that could possibly mean. In making paper, you have two options. (1) You can cut down a tree to make clean, high-quality paper, but on a large scale this involves massive deforestation and the annihilation of ecosystems. (2) You can recycle old paper. However, paper fibers get shorter and shorter the more they're recycled, requiring more and more environmentally-questionable chemicals (bleaches, stabilizers, etc.) to produce a product of less quality than the original. The authors call this "downcycling", which means just what it sounds like it means. Finally, the chemicals involved in the creation of either kind of paper remain in the environment long after the paper fibers themselves decompose.So option (1) above is clearly bad, and option (2) is what they call "less bad". As an actually "good" alternative, they made their book out of some sort of inert plastic polymer that can be indefinitely recycled. The pages are as papery as plastic can be, and overall the book feels the way a book should. Maybe a little heavier than your typical 180-page book, but sturdier and waterproof. (I got hoisin sauce all over mine and it wiped right off.) Apparently, if you send this book back to the manufacturer it can be recycled into other books with close to zero loss in overall quality. (I want to stress that this argument hasn't changed my overall view of recycling. In the absence of "good" options it still makes sense to pick the option which is least bad. I'll continue to downcycle my junk until it's possible to, uh, upcycle, even if that merely postpones the apocalypse instead of preventing it.)This is a microcosm of what this book is actually about. Right now, we as a society are locked into a false choice between the standard capitalist notion of "progress" and the standard environmentalist notion of "sustainability". This book presents a third option that goes a long way towards reconciling the two. Rather than choose between progress and sustainability, why not design/engineer sustainability into products, buildings, and infrasrtucture? The authors argue that this extra design effort can be economical for businesses when you consider the overall cost of manufacturing. They give the example of a manufacturing facility they designed in which the effluent water from the factory was actually cleaner than the influent. It took some extra money to design, but now the business doesn't have to pay regulatory fees or worry about how to dispose of its liquid wastes. Overall, that initial design effort saved them money.I guess this review is getting a little long. Here is the punchline. Environmentalism and industry don't necessarily have to be arch-enemies. (I guess Captain Planet brainwashed me a little...) Intelligent systems design can create an industrial environment which is actually beneficial to local ecology. This book gets four stars rather than five because I wish it was longer. I wanted more details about specific things that have been/can be done in the service of this idea. Instead, the book is short and talks in broad strokes for a more skeptical audience than me. I would love to loan this book to you.

  • Bill
    2019-04-30 15:07

    TL;DR Defines an obvious problem and then offers no realistic solution to address it.I enjoyed the first half of this book, which was a staggering indictment of the industrialized consumer economy. The authors then offer a manifesto for reshaping it so that growth could be positive. For example, if cars cleaned the air instead of polluting it, we would see more cars as a positive outcome, not something to lament. Despite the authors working in this field for decades, there weren't a lot of case studies and they all were quite superficial. They helped transform a furniture factory in Germany to produce clean water as its waste output, but didn't explain how.Like many of these books, when it gets to the practical section, it completely breaks down into blue sky hand-waving. They pretend to be pragmatic and define five compounding steps (177) for a company to take on the path to their ideal of product design and production, but the steps glaze over why a company would care about any of this to begin with. They condemn eco-effectiveness without acknowledging that the only reason it even exists is because it saves money. Who is going to invest in making a car that, instead of having many negative outputs, has positive ones, when our economic system is defined to its very core by rewarding bad behaviors?The book pretty much devolved into this: you want more practical solutions to this problem, I suggest Fight Club.

  • Koen Crolla
    2019-05-02 18:02

    Did you know that before the Industrial Revolution, everyone grew their own food? That it was only during the Industrial Revolution that factory workers no longer had enough time to farm and were forced to move to the city and depend on others for it? That banks and stock markets and what have you all came into existence only during the Industrial Revolution, to support the new-born Capitalist Machine?Oh, how naïve you were to think non-agrarian middle classes and banks were around for millennia before the Industrial Revolution, and that stock markets date back to the 12th or 13th century!Alright, so the book's central thesis is straightforward and relatively uncontroversial (and completely apparent from the title); the incredible amount of bullshit it's draped in gets on my nerves.This nonsense about the Industrial Revolution is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fields in which the authors are jarringly ignorant, though admittedly basic history is probably their weakest point (with basic biology being a close second). There's also a lot of handwaving about agriculture, the way people build houses, "chemicals" in consumer products from countries with weaker regulations than ours, "chemicals" in consumer products from poor recycling practices, "chemicals" in consumer products that are legal in our countries but poorly understood, "chemicals" in our fertilisers, "chemicals" in our drinking water from our sewage treatment techniques, the artistic and spiritual aridity of efficiency, the counter-productiveness of many current environmental programs, &c.; sensible things can be said on each (well, most) of these topics, but the authors don't. Instead, they're only there as contentless shibboleths for other brain-dead environmentalists. (Which is ironic, given the authors' attacks on this very group.)In addition to this, the whole thing is steeped in so much romanticisation of pre-industrial societies and nature in general that it's actually painful to read at times. Apparently cherry trees and ant colonies are wonderful examples of sustainability and balance with nature, as if cherry trees don't want to deprive other plants of as much sunlight as they can possibly get away with, and as if ants don't regularly collapse entire ecosystems. And of course, before the Great Satan Industry reared its ugly head, humans approached nature with reverence and respect, and lived in tune with nature; the fact that, for example, nearly all megafauna disappeared on all continents right about the time the first humans arrived, why, that's just a coincidence.The sad part is that none of it is even *necessary* to support the authors' thesis, which is that resources are finite and it would therefore be a good idea to stop removing them from the industrial ecosystem entirely when we're done with them for the time being. Any idiot could see that that just makes sense.Of course, it's hard to fill an entire book with just that. Even with all the nonsense, they didn't even manage to get to 200 pages.All of that, and the fact that most of their sub-ideas (like products as a service) are just brain-damaged, make Cradle to Cradle the kind of wooly-minded mush that gives environmentalism a bad name. Which is a pity, because it could have been great.

  • Nick
    2019-05-11 16:58

    Everyone on the planet should read this book. The authors, one a chemist, and the other an architect, have thought more deeply about what "green" truly means (in terms of the environment) than anybody else. What they say will surprise you. They are not big fans of recycling, for example, because most things that are recycled were not designed for same, and it takes a lot of energy to cycle them 'down' to a lower use (like recycling paper). Instead, they argue for designing products from the ground up that don't require pollution to be made and can be reused many times without losing value or quality. But it's their designs for buildings that are especially wonderful. They have figured out how to create houses and offices that require virtually no carbon-based energy to heat and cool, and are great spaces to be in as well. The book itself is printed on a benign plastic that killed no trees in the making and will biodegrade rapidly. Indeed, a seed is bound into the spine, so that if you throw this book away you will literally plant a tree. Cool. Very cool.

  • dara
    2019-04-30 14:10

    Be more like ants and cherry trees. I just saved you the trouble of reading this repetitive bore.Other than that, be prepared for rhetorical questions--basically the same one using a different example or with slight variations in phrasing: "What would have happened, we sometimes wonder, if the Industrial Revolution had taken place in societies that emphasize the community over the individual, and where people believed not in a cradle-to-grave life cycle but in reincarnation?"Seriously, I just saved you 186 pages. Thank me at your leisure.Pros: You can throw this book in a lake and it will survive.Cons: It will survive.

  • Andrew K.
    2019-05-17 12:25

    Pretty much as advertised -- a screed (in a good way) against the normal cradle-to-grave paradigm of consumerism and short-sighted product design. For instance: Isn't it funny that in, say, apple juice boxes, the product inside has a shorter shelf life than the packaging? Why would the packaging be more durable than its product? Wouldn't it be cool if packaging was designed to be tossed into your yard, decompose in weeks, and maybe even contain a wildflower seed that would germinate?Cradle to Cradle is also a scary book (in a good way) about all the chemicals that go into everything we buy. There's this thing called "off-gassing" where they test what chemicals a normal product (a spatula, an iPod speaker, a sneaker sole) gives off as it's used and knocked around. Turns out that as products decompose a bit, their chemicals get into our food and indoor air, and that kind of poisoning generally isn't prohibited or regulated. Or if it is, it's at the chemical level -- there's a "bad list" of proven carcinogens, instead of a good list of chemicals known to be safe. I agree now: Every product should come with an ingredients list -- so you know if you're buying toxic and carcinogenic chemicals when you buy, say, an extension cord. The more you know.Read this book, if only to freak you out (in a good way).

  • Dennis
    2019-05-01 18:00

    Cradle to Cradle is a essentially book of questions, and a calling for people to not only re-think the way we make things, but to re-think the way we perceive ourselves as pitted against the natural world, rather than working with the natural world. The age old paradigm of conquering nature and bend (or in many cases break it) to fit our needs is outmoded,short-sighted, and, in fact, harmful not only to humans but the entire natural system. The concept of Cradle to Cradle replaces the concept of Cradle to Grave, in which "things" (goods) have a entry point and an exit point in the consumption lifecycle. A "thing" is born (manufactured), it is consumed, and then thrown away. Then a new "thing" is purchased. The idea of cradle to cradle proposes a new model of manufacturing and consumption, one in which products are sold as a "product of service", where the manufacturer, in a manner of speaking, leases the product to a customer, the customer uses the product, and at the end of the product's useful life as said product, is returned to the manufacturer, at which time the manufacturer is able to de-construct the product, reuse many of the component pieces and materials embodied in the original product to make a new product. The de-construction of the product (months or years later) is possible only because the product was designed and engineered that way in the first place, which is the central idea of the book. I gave it a 4-star rating because the book is a little short on concrete examples of the new system the authors are proposing. Books that make me think, and question conventional wisdom are almost always going to get at least 4 stars with me.

  • Bryan Kibbe
    2019-04-30 13:06

    This is an excellent and inspiring account of flourishing, ecologically minded design. At the core of the book is a paradigm shift from eco-efficient design that focuses on simply using less materials (that is, being less bad) to instead eco-effective design that reimagines products that do not simply use less material, but might actually productively contribute to the lives of other persons and the natural world. Thus, instead of designing products that are destined eventually for the landfill, McDonough and Braungart imagine products that can be re-used again and again in the same form or different forms through up-cycling (instead of re-cycling/down-cycling). The book is well written with numerous examples alongside clear articulations of principles and commitments, which I found to be wise and compelling. McDonough and Braungart write with audiences in business as well as from the ecology and social justice camps in mind, and the several groups will find a careful and measured approach that does a great job of pursuing the middle path while still offering a substantial and worthwhile vision for future ecologically minded design. What I most enjoyed about this book was that its authors set forth an argument that is not simply about surviving here on earth, but actually thriving. But don't mistake them for shallow utopians, the authors are deeply attuned to the need for transitional structures, and they offer some constructive ways forward given the present circumstances in the last third of the book. I would highly recommend this book to family and friends.

  • Jono
    2019-04-28 10:25

    The authors tell an encouraging and interesting story about our approach to product development and use today. One where the product 'lifecycle' is from 'cradle' to 'grave' - a product is made and when it dies it goes 'away.' They give lots of good examples of a) why that is a bad thing and b) how we can do it better by opting for a cradle to cradle mentality.What I liked most about this book was how they peeled apart the subtle metaphors that strongly affect our outlook today for products. Things like: throwing something 'away' (in a closed system!); a strive for 'efficiency' rather than 'effectiveness;' how recycling is more often 'downcycling' (use in a lower quality product) and how we should strive for 'upcycling' when possible; our outlook that doesn't tend to look much past the current generation; our dominate nature mentality rather than living interdependently; our view of natural 'resources' and ourselves as 'consumers.They also introduced some of their own metaphors like the biological and technical metabolisms, and up and downcycling.It is a quick read and it is worth buying to experience the book itself - it's made of plastic and is also waterproof.

  • Ron
    2019-04-27 11:03

    Sweet and sour on this book:Sweet:-- Is a nice philosophic groundwork for re-thinking our relationship to the earth, to manufacturing, to design. Broad and all-encompassing. -- Some potent ideas about how processes and materials work can or don't work in an ecologically sensible way. Tying things back to simple logic is a consistent method that is effective here.-- printed on synthetic paper, a wonderful demonstration of the book's argument-- a quote from Hildegard von Bingen, for god's sakes!Sour:-- Would have benefited from more concrete examples of materials/processes that demonstrate/embody the proposed philosophy.-- Pictures would have been great too-- The chapters are somewhat overlapping, and not as clearly distinct at they might have been.-- Much redundancy throughout.

  • Steve
    2019-04-27 17:58

    I'm not sure what to think of this book. It's kind of like the antithesis of "An Inconvenient Truth." Where Al Gore said humans are destroying the planet, but you can make it all OK by replacing a lightbulb, "Cradle to Cradle" suggests that everything you currently do for the environment is not good enough. The authors attack all recycling as "downcycling" and criticize most energy-conscious building models. But they don't offer clear alternatives or helpful advice for finding products that follow their "cradle to cradle" philosophy. There are some interesting ideas and an impassioned manifesto, but I wish there was more practical advice.

  • Rachyl
    2019-05-20 14:56

    I learned so much from this book. Production and consumerism wasn't really a part of environmentalism that I was overly interested in before this book. I thought it was important. But I also more or less thought it was a lost cause. That we would need huge technological advances before we could make any changes. Apparently, I've just been reading the wrong books.I would say though that it needs a different introduction. It works just fine for the first two chapters of the book where we discuss mostly doom and gloom: all the problems with our current industrial system, but it did not prepare me for the ideas presented after chapter 2. After all the negative of the first two chapters, the optimistic world proposed seemed utopian and entirely unattainable. I had to suspend my belief for a while before I could jump on board with all these radical ideas.I also thought that the book did get a little repetitive at times, but when it was making new points I always found them to be very insightful. I also found the notes section at the back of the book to be a little lacking. Some topics that were brought up didn't have any paper referenced in the back which is a shame, because I wanted to know where their information was coming from for a few of the issues addressed where they didn't have a paper cited. I understand that a lot of their examples and theories come from their own experience in the field, but I would have appreciated if they pointed me in the right direction to learn more about some topics.There are so many examples of the products of the future that rely on eco-effectiveness, and there are a bunch that they have already helped to create: from fabrics to soaps to factory buildings. And imagining a world where all the products are helpful to all facets of the world is remarkable.I am far more interested in learning more about the manufacturing process now than I used to be. This book has definitely opened the door for me, which is why I found it to be so valuable. I also think this would be a fantastic book for anyone who doesn't know anything about manufacturing or environmental ideals to read, the authors take the time to define main principles and terms, which I found to be useful on a number of occasions.

  • Phil
    2019-04-26 13:04

    A very interesting book that ought to be required reading for anyone at least marginally interested in the environmental catastrophe we humans seem poised to create.The authors' vision for a future of abundance challenges the long-established paradigm of environmentalist thought, conservation. They argue that the focus on conservation and efficiency is misguided, because under that paradigm we are still using damaging techonologies, only less of them. Instead we should be striving for what they call "eco-effective" systems; that is, systems that instead of resulting in toxic byproducts create residue that actively replenish our natural world. The ideal we should reach for is that of a cherry tree--a cherry tree creates far more blossoms than it needs to survive, yet those blossoms that go unused decompose and help the soil and surrounding ecosystem flourish. In terms of approach, the book is clearly revolutionary, but I think it likely far more useful for designers and captains of industry (tellingly, the book is clearly written with the latter in mind) than the general public. Sadly, most of us are not in a position to make fundamental choices about the way our home and work environments interact with their surrounding ecosystems, at least not to the degree that would be necessary for implementing the vision suggested here. We certainly need more designers and CEOs thinking long-term (one great aspect of the book is that eco-effectiveness is shown to be not just responsible but profitable), but until we have more executives on the vanguard it certainly wouldn't hurt to have a great deal more conservation happening on the consumer end. The best approach, it seems to me, would stipulate the following: when dealing with antiquated, polluting technologies (e.g. those that surround most of us for most of the day), utilize conservation strategies as frequently as possible; when presented with the opportunity to use ecologically effective technologies and energy sources, by all means, let your thirst be as insatiable as modern consumerism dictates.

  • Tal Allweil
    2019-04-22 10:20

    A lot of environmental books/movies leave me feeling hopeless and terrified (a la McKibben's Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, the movie The Future of Food, etc.) - but this book provided a high-level overview of how to implement the necessary infrastructural changes to allow society to proceed in a sustainable, non-destructive way.It deals with the topics of how goods are manufactured both from the perspective of how we expect them to be made (a cradle-to-grave mentality, if they even last that long) and how the manufacturers cater to a population satisfied with disposable goods. It addresses energy infrastructure, and the sometimes dubious methods involved in producing energy for a developed/developing world.It uses relate-able examples that simplify the task of visualizing such a world. And the most important thing, for me, was simply that it is so hopeful, without being naively optimistic. It provides for a groundwork for implementing these ideas in a manner that's economically feasible, a requirement in today's increasingly capitalist present-centric (with an increasingly blind eye towards the future) world. I urge anyone who has any sort of curiosity in these matters to read the book. It's not long, nor a tough read (unlike The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays which had me pausing after every few paragraphs to digest it!) One could even approach it as a whimsical sci-fi book, a portrayal of a not-TOO-different world in which we're not slowly burying ourselves in a rapidly heating world towards a government-sponsored oblivion. Whimsy indeed - we need not all live in yurts to survive the next century.

  • Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
    2019-04-28 11:19

    One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.Cradle to Cradle begins where eco-efficiency ends. Eco-efficiency, according to McDonough and Braungart, is just about making a bad system a little less bad. Eco-effectiveness, on the other hand, is about redesigning products and services to make them good - bigger and better in a way that replenishes, restores and nourishes the rest of the world. Hence, industry can have a positive impact on the environment, provided it is designed with that positive impact in mind.Cradle-to-cradle goes beyond 'cradle-to-grave' thinking; rather than simply considering impacts across the life-cycle of a product and trying to minimise waste, the authors argue for closed-loop production, where waste is acceptable only if it is entirely re-used by the system.

  • Benedict
    2019-05-03 17:23

    McDonough and Braungart demonstrate that design may be the key element in a (un)sustainable product's lifecycle. They show that products can be designed that are fully "bio-integratable" (including natural breakdown and absorption processes), where all the parts are fully reusable and that beautiful, functional and affordable, too.They stress a triple win philosophy: Cradle to Cradle (cycle) success means ecological harmony, social equity and economic profitability. All products need to score well in all three criteria before they can be satisfy McDonough's and Braungart high but just set of design criteria.

    2019-04-22 14:59

    This book is really very interesting and clear. Three years ago I attended a lecture by one of the authors, and I found this upcycling idea really brilliant and reading the book only confirmed my original idea. I share only slightly less their optimistic view, but still, I'm a bit too cynical by nature.Veramente molto interessante e chiaro questo libro. Tre anni fa avevo assistito ad una conferenza di uno degli autori e avevo trovato questa idea dell'upcycling veramente geniale e leggere il libro non ha fatto che confermare la mia idea di partenza. Condivido solo leggermente di meno l'ottimismo, ma insomma, io sono un po' troppo cinica per natura.

  • Sally
    2019-05-13 18:22

    It was not the easiest read; I probably waded through more than half. The ideas of designing production and products so that there is minimal or no waste, and multiple processes can benefit from each other is certainly elegant and timely. We have spent way too long squandering resources by using whatever portion we need in the moment without much regard to waste and pollution. Revolutionary and a long ways off from being implemented, but necessary seeds of thought to plant for our future.

  • Maeve
    2019-05-01 15:17

    I highly recommend this read. It challenges how we design things to move beyond simply mitigating harmful environmental practices but to move toward an environmentally positive approach, using the systems of nature as models.

  • David Collins
    2019-05-19 12:06

    Depressing as hell, though simultaneously inspiring. Either way, it sure gets you thinking.It would be a wonderful world indeed if everything we made was designed and manufactured to be reused and repurposed, as the authors recommend. Unfortunately, the capitalist paradigm under which we live actively discourages "eco-effective" design practices.

  • Erica Harlec
    2019-04-28 10:05

    An optimistic book- rethinking the basic process of making "things" to benefit environment AND economic growth, not just another admonition to use less, sacrifice and restrict.

  • Tim Lee
    2019-05-17 12:07

    This book was pretty shitty. I wouldn't recommend it unless you've lived under a rock for the first 20 years of your life.

  • Preston Kutney
    2019-05-23 17:06

    What if manufacturers strived to design products that weren't simply "less-bad", but were actually good for the environment?This is the rhetorical question that the book asks over and over in many forms. Many of the ideas and the intent of the book are 5-star-worthy; the writing and rhetoric, however, are not.I thought key flaw in this book was naiveté - the authors were simply overly idealistic. Asking questions like "Imagine how useful it would be if industry had a way to recover that copper instead of constantly losing it". Well, gee, don't you think that thought may have crossed the mind of Mr Copper executive at some point and if there were a good way he would use it? The book is filled with these head-in-the-clouds observations and suggestions.I would have loved to hear the industry response to some of the suggestions for improving product manufacture - I suspect that many of the authors' suggestions would end up in the "nice but not economically justifiable" pile, due to added complexity, risk, cost etc. Basically, even as someone sympathetic to the intent of the book, I was not fully convinced that the authors knew enough about the nitty-gritty details of these industries to be giving such general suggestions on how to improve operations. For example, the authors brought up using rice husks as a packing material to replace styrofoam. It sounds great on the surface; rice husks are biodegradable, can be used post-delivery as biofuel, insulation, or fertilizer. But no mention was made of the logistics of such a replacement - are rice husks economical? Are they locally available in most parts of the world? Are they a reasonable packing substitute performance-wise? It is easy to spout environmentally friendly recommendations on how to run a business but much more difficult and more complex (not to mention riskier) to implement them economically. Until the tools which we use to evaluate business decisions are fundamentally altered to account for the health of natural capital, the majority of the recommendations made by environmentalists like the authors of this book will never catch on in general industry. And it is naive to think that industrial manufacturers (especially those that are not consumer-facing) will altruistically alter their business because of some chemical off-gassing that is seen as a hazard only in some online tree-hugger forums.Another idea with which I disagreed was the "why being less bad is no good" theory - that striving for incremental gains in eco-efficiency or reduction "does not halt depletion and destruction - it only slows them down". I think the idea that efficiency should be shunned as some kind of ineffective half-hearted compromise incorrectly ignores the regenerative capacity of the earth and places an unnecessary moral burden on industry. The authors spend a good 5-10 pages demonizing incremental efficiency gains, criticizing German homes' insulation for reducing indoor air quality in pursuit of energy efficiency, and a Turkish housing development's efficient (but probably poor) construction in a building collapse. They were so hard on efficiency, they had to backtrack a little, offering this ridiculous statement : "This is not to condemn all efficiency. When implemented as a tool within a larger, effective system that intends overall positive effects on a wide range of issues- not simply economic ones - efficiency can actually be valuable". Oh, efficiency can actually be valuable?There were, however, a few good ideas in the book. One of my favorites was the realization that hardly anything that I ever buy is consumed - it's simply used until it gets thrown out:"Think about it: you may be referred to as a consumer, but there is very little that you actually consume - some foods, some liquids. Everything else is designed for you to throw away when you are finished with it. But where is "away"? Of course, away does not really exist."I also agreed with the authors' diagnosis that many of the flaws that plague design and create unintended consequences and waste are largely due to the "brute force over nature vs design with nature" dichotomy. Many design strategies dictate that when something underperforms, just make it bigger! Stronger! Faster! Thicker! Whenever our development encroaches on nature, just grab nature by the neck and force it to do our will! In my line of work, designing canals, levees and drainage structures, this is the conventional approach. However, the authors correctly identify that by taking a more holistic integrated approach to design, and designing with nature, many design challenges can be successfully solved. I found this book to be useful, as it introduced me to some good and also some flawed ideas about sustainability and how society can overcome the issues facing us.

  • Jan
    2019-05-18 10:56

    Yes, I think this is an important book. Watch Afval = voedsel deel 1 & 2 and see the clout it is having. C2C and leasing provide images of how 'industry' may be 'sustainable'. Unilever's biodegradable packaging becomes a seed bomb when chucked: wonderful! I role my own cigarettes, using equally degradable filter tips. Imagine the place you live without cigarette buds nor plastic bags! Opportunities indeed!But no, I hardly think this is the definitive answer. The superficial, anecdotal and naive storytelling must inspire a wider audience, but it doesn't withstand much scrutiny. Will all sectors find C2C solutions? Peak oil and peak everything will eventually make things more costly to produce and purchase, but I haven't seen much of it. Is 100% upcycling physically possible? I'm no expert, but I've been taught that the second law of thermodynamics implies using wisely the resources that rest us, and not endless consumption like the authors promise.'Planned obsolescence' is not something you can just design out. Permaculture is very similar to cradle-to-cradle (although for some reason it is not directly referenced), but it also suffers from its technical optimism. Surely, it is important to create a material culture that is sustainable in all its meanings. But our financial systems, regulations, our view of the good life... all have to be 're-engineered' as well. None of which are the prerogative area of any type of architect.I think C2C design is a piece of the puzzle, but it's only a piece. The authors saved Ford Motor Company 35$ million, but on the same page it says that Ford faced a cost of 48$ million due to the Clean Water Act. I want to know C2C's potential and under which circumstances it works.

  • Kathy
    2019-04-25 11:59

    I give it a 5 for the concept, a bit less for way he sells it. The message here is that strategies like recycling, consuming less and so on just mean we destroy ourselves and our world more slowly. In fact he calls them insidious because they mask the problem and prevent us from taking the bold steps that are really needed: reinventing products so they are actually beneficial to make and use, and can be "fed" back into future biological or technological production processes indefinitely (hence the title).To drive the message home, most of the book is spent dissecting current business practices including "green" thinking and exposing all the flaws. He mixes in a lot of hypothetical scenarios("imagine a product that you feel good about throwing away because it helps build soil...") but not many specific, real world examples. When he does refer to cases where benign or beneficial products have been developed, he's frustratingly short on details. I soon felt boxed into a corner with no positive steps available for me to take.Having hammered all the eco-illusions out of the reader, the final chapters do lay out a more positive, hopeful picture in which current strategies (traditional recycling, for example) are useful when viewed as transition measures while we figure out the big changes. I believe the paradigm shift he's advocating is necessary, and the tough-love sales approach was probably justified too. I was just ready for the constructive part sooner than the last chapter. Still, it was well worth reading and gave me a whole different perspective on what's possible and worth striving for.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-05-12 13:21

    It took me a little while to really get what this book was about. Once I realized it was about how we make things rather than how we can responsibly consume them - well, ok, primarily about - I enjoyed it a great deal more.McDonough and Braungart draw on years of experience as designers, chemists, and generally eco-minded sorts to present a really compelling argument as to why the way we currently make things is 1) not sustainable and 2) in basically every way bad for us and the environment. The book is sobering but also hopeful - I was reading it on the bus the other morning and found myself daydreaming about how the environment in my library could be improved by putting a garden on the roof which would help regulate the building temperature while also giving us a place to go that is green...and then I got to work and the elevators were broken and the AC wasn't working again, and I realized I needed to set my sights a little lower.I think what's really challenging about this book is that it presents a lot of solutions - or at least ideas - but very few that are actionable for your Average Joe Consumer. I can't change the way my plastic yogurt container was produced, and I try to do my best by recycling the container, but now I feel doubly guilty for consuming something in a disposable container since the container that I dutifully wash and put in the recycling bin will likely be downcycled rather than recycled. Sigh.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-11 14:18

    A great topic, but not the best presentation. Other books may cover this topic better (such as Slow Death By Rubber Duck maybe).A lot of important information in here. Even recycled materials can create hazardous dust (phthalates) with normal use. The authors have a very clear concept of how to create products that can be broken down into restructurable components, but the key is in being able to easily separate manufactured and natural ingredients. There are some great examples of how green building design (while keeping local environment in mind) can cost only 10% more to build than non-green buildings, and save a lot of $ in electricity bills in the long run, while creating a much more pleasant environment for workers. While there was a lot of talk about what these products should look like, though, there was no real discussion of how to make them, only encouragement that people should pursue their design. One of the authors is a chemist and I would have at least liked to see some basic discussion of possible chemical/manufacture ideas that could be expanded on. I listened to the audio book, and Stephen Hoye was not a good reader for this. He is great at narrating simple, motivational things, but the subject matter did not match his reading style, and it became patterned and a bit monotone.

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-08 15:18

    Pie-in-the sky book on sustainability- good read and presents important concepts, but the authors are completely uncritical of their case studies and present a flimsy roadmap of how to make their vision a reality.To concept of cradle-to-cradle certainly is appealing, but the author's own attempt to implement this concept through the very unique construction of the book is unconvincing. Sure, this book can be probably be truly recycled or even "up-cycled", but if I were to throw this book away, how can I be sure my waste management company would dispose of it properly? There are no instructions on this book on how to dispose of it properly. The right systems are not in place. Of course, the authors intent in writing/creating this book is to help us get to that world- but I'd like to see some more practical writing on this. Write a follow-up book and give us a roadmap. Acknowledge the failures and shortcomings of their own examples, for Pete's sake. They devote pages lauding Ford's efforts in making their Dearborn factory more sustainable while ignoring the fact that the company should have focused their efforts on re-designing their cars. To get a better comprehensive approach towards sustainability, one should read this book in conjunction with Getting Green Done and Green To Gold (among others).

  • AJ
    2019-05-16 13:08

    I guess this is as good of an environmental design book as you can get if you are working within the model of capitalism. I dislike the authors' disregard for government regulation, because ideas are great but money and laws are what make companies change. Putting a green roof on an automobile manufacturer is certainly better than no green roof, but without questioning the consumer system that creates millions of cars each year, the environment isn't seeing much of a net benefit.Technotopia can be great, but it needs guidelines. The book is made out of plastic with inorganic fillers. Great, but nowhere in the book are these ingredients fully disclosed. My problem with many consumer products is that there's no need for ingredients to be disclosed, so they aren't. And without motivation for people to recycle or turn-in their newly designed products appropriately, we're just going to be landfilling them. I would have liked to have read some more dramatic ideas than "put a green roof on it." But hey, if this book gets enough people's gears turning I guess it's not too bad.