Circular Economy

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

This text outlines a design philosophy in which products are not thrown away after they are no longer useful (cradle-to-grave). Cradle-to-cradle thinking models the technological cycle on the biological cycle, in which everything produced in the system is reused indefinitely, serving as “food” for new products. Highlighted here are chapters 1, 4 and 6. Chapter 1, “A Question of Design” traces how the Industrial Revolution initiated the age of mass consumption and resource exploitation. The mechanization of cottage industries drew rural populations into cities where factory work was abundant. Countercultural trends (Luddites and Romantics) pushed back against industrial optimism, even as a new, prosperous class emerged, and public infrastructure developed to meet its needs. This was an "undesigned” economic revolution, motivated by the desire to acquire capital, that has resulted in massive waste, pollution, and other social and environmental degradation, even as it set the stage for advances in human social organization and public services. Chapter 4, “Waste Equals Food” focuses on how “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).” Chapter 6, “Putting Eco-Effectiveness into Practice” lays out five additional steps that can be followed by those who want to apply cradle-to-cradle design in their work.

McDonough, W., & Braungart, M. (2010). Cradle to cradle: Remaking the way we make things. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 

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