Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

William McDonough, Michael Braungart

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
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Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

William McDonough, Michael Braungart

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, how


“Think before you throw: there’s no such place as away” is an old BodyShop slogan that carried much weight, but for the architect McDonough and the chemist Braungart, it scarcely tips the scales.

Cradle to Cradle is a hugely informative challenge to prevailing opinion on environmental issues. I expected a series of scene-setting environmental horror stories followed by something approaching a sermon on the necessity to recycle and repair. Hmm.

If you want nightmares of toxic damnation, get a chemist to describe what happens when you walk down the street or sit in a chair. I was fairly close on that count, but my expectation of an Arts & Craft Movement speech couldn’t have been more wrong.

Rather than railing against industry and commerce, Cradle to Cradle acknowledges its importance and highlights seemingly improbable cases where big business has got it right. The breadth of vision is even more encouraging than specifics of which materials to use or avoid.

The authors address and look beyond ecological-vs-economic issues and bring ethics into the equation. Want to go a little further than ethics? The often overlooked concerns of ‘pleasure and delight’ get a mention too.

This is not a dour prediction of a choking doom; with creative thinking and business sense ‘sustainability’ is simply aiming too low.

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