Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart
Remaking the Way We Make Things

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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; 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, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.


About Michael Braungart

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William McDonough is an architect and the founding principal of William McDonough & Partners, Architecture and Community Design, based in Charlottesville, Virginia. From 1994 to 1999, he served as dean of the school of architecture at the University of Virginia. In 1999 Time magazine recognized him as a Hero for the Planet, stating that "his utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that-in demonstrable and practical ways-is changing the design of the world." 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. Prior to starting the EPEA, he was the director of the chemistry section for Greenpeace. Since 1984 he has been lecturing at universities, businesses, and institutions around the world on critical new concepts for ecological chemistry and materials flow management. Dr. Braungart is the recipient of numerous honors, awards, and fellowships from the Heinz Endowment, the W. Alton Jones Foundation, and other organizations. Stephen Hoye has won thirteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and two prestigious APA Audie Awards, including one for the New York Times bestseller Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. A graduate of London's Guildhall and a veteran of London's West End, Stephen has recorded many other notable titles, such as Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong and The Google Story by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed.
Published March 1, 2010 by North Point Press. 212 pages
Genres: Computers & Technology, Nature & Wildlife, Sports & Outdoors, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Cradle to Cradle

Kirkus Reviews

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American architect/industrial engineer McDonough and German chemist Braungart collaborated at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit on a proposal for eliminating the concept of waste in industrial design.

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The Guardian

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Instead of recycling (or, as they say, "downcycling") products into inevitably lower-grade homogeneous material, why not design things from the start so that their valuable ingredients (copper, steel and so on) can be recuperated in pure form and used again, circulating indefinitely as "technical...

Jan 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking th...

Publishers Weekly

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Environmentalists are normally the last people to be called shortsighted, yet that's essentially what architect McDonough and chemist Braungart contend in this clarion call for a new kind of ec

Feb 11 2002 | Read Full Review of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking th...

BC Books

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The book spends some time discussing the whole notion of dangerous design principles, including the way in which “downcycling” only defers the problem as products become more and more unstable (and environmentally problematic) as they are recycled.

Sep 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking th...

BC Books

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They suggest that the key to working within, rather than against, nature is to respect biodiversity, respect the elegance and abundance of what is around us, and begin our design process with the notion of there is no such thing as waste: Industries that respect diversity engage with local mater...

Sep 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking th...

Gather Books

Although IÂ’ve yet to see plastic books become a trend, the book itself is an example of how a product can be manufactured in a way that will be infinitely valuable.

Sep 02 2008 | Read Full Review of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking th...


The best example as you read this book is the book itself since it is made of some sort of plastic that can be made over into a book again and again.

May 03 2002 | Read Full Review of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking th...

News Review.

Cradle to cradle is a form of green design that takes into account a product’s ability to be recycled, the use of renewable and recycled resources in its construction, and its eco-toxicological effects.

Oct 04 2007 | Read Full Review of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking th...

If Zimmerman is right when he characterizes the dark green call for a romantic return to nature as reflecting a kind of nostalgia for older, safer, more familiar structures of consciousness within ourselves, then why shouldn’t the call of the bright green future be the call to completely let ...

Apr 22 2013 | Read Full Review of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking th...

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