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Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things Paperback – Apr 22 2002


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Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things + The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance + Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; 1 edition (April 22 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865475873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865475878
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #49,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Paper or plastic? Neither, say William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Why settle for the least harmful alternative when we could have something that is better--say, edible grocery bags! In Cradle to Cradle, the authors present a manifesto calling for a new industrial revolution, one that would render both traditional manufacturing and traditional environmentalism obsolete. Recycling, for instance, is actually "downcycling," creating hybrids of biological and technical "nutrients" which are then unrecoverable and unusable. The authors, an architect and a chemist, want to eliminate the concept of waste altogether, while preserving commerce and allowing for human nature. They offer several compelling examples of corporations that are not just doing less harm--they're actually doing some good for the environment and their neighborhoods, and making more money in the process. Cradle to Cradle is a refreshing change from the intractable environmental conflicts that dominate headlines. It's a handbook for 21st-century innovation and should be required reading for business hotshots and environmental activists. --Therese Littleton

From Publishers Weekly

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 ecological consciousness. The authors are partners in an industrial design firm that devises environmentally sound buildings, equipment and products. They argue that conventional, expensive eco-efficiency measures things like recycling or emissions reduction are inadequate for protecting the long-term health of the planet. Our industrial products are simply not designed with environmental safety in mind; there's no way to reclaim the natural resources they use or fully prevent ecosystem damage, and mitigating the damage is at best a stop-gap measure. What the authors propose in this clear, accessible manifesto is a new approach they've dubbed "eco-effectiveness": designing from the ground up for both eco-safety and cost efficiency. They cite examples from their own work, like rooftops covered with soil and plants that serve as natural insulation; nontoxic dyes and fabrics; their current overhaul of Ford's legendary River Rouge factory; and the book itself, which will be printed on a synthetic "paper" that doesn't use trees. Because profitability is a requirement of the designs, the thinking goes, they appeal to business owners and obviate the need for regulatory apparatus. These shimmery visions can sound too good to be true, and the book is sometimes frustratingly short on specifics, particularly when it comes to questions of public policy and the political interests that might oppose widespread implementation of these designs. Still, the authors' original concepts are an inspiring reminder that humans are capable of much more elegant environmental solutions than the ones we've settled for in the last half-century.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In the spring of 1912, one of the largest moving objects ever created by human beings left Southampton, England, and began gliding toward New York. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli on June 6 2004
Format: Paperback
This is an extraordinary and unlikely book. It is not printed on paper, but on a waterproof polymer with the heft of good paper and more strength, a substance that reflects the right amount of light, yet holds the ink fast. It seems like an impossible fantasy, but so does much of what the authors propose about design and ecology. They speak with the calm certainty of the ecstatic visionary. Could buildings generate oxygen like trees? Could running shoes release nutrients into the earth? It seems like science fiction. Yet, here is this book, on this paper. The authors make a strong case for change, and just when you're about to say, "if only," they cite a corporation that is implementing their ideas. However, it's hard to believe their concepts would work on a large scale, in the face of powerful economic disincentives. We believe authors do aim some of their criticism at obsolete marketing and manufacturing philosophies, but the overall critique is well worth reading.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock on March 10 2003
Format: Paperback
McDonough & Braungart are obviously very talented guys. This book is harshly honest as they don't spare the rod in respect to either full-out industrial capitalists or eco-efficiency proponents.
However, I had three issues with this book:
1) It could have been a lot more throught-provoking if the authors had organized the book better. Seriously, it takes 80 or so pages before you get a handle on the author's true point of view. They spend every single word until that point debunking all other approaches in the field. I wish they had interspersed it with their ideas. But they keep their hand hidden until that point. I found it frustrating.
2) There's a big deal made of the book itself, and its 'upcycle potential.' All well and good, but can I point out a rather annoying side-effect? This is a difficult book to read...I mean from an ergonomic perspective. You just can't keep the thing open. And as far as reading it on a bookholder when you're working out: forget it. It will not lie flat. I realize this is an insipid criticism, but this technology is not yet ready for prime-time, in my opinion.
3) The book needs to be more quantitative. Only in the last chapter do we get any hint of realism, when the authors tell you about their work with Ford's River Rouge plant. Up until that point, there were some hints dropped here and there, most notably about the Herman Miller office the duo built. I'm sure they've got reams of quantitative evidence to support their theories. For some reason, they made a decision not to present it, and I think it hurts the book.
Still, depsite these comments, I think 'Cradle to Cradle' is worth your time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David C N Swanson on April 27 2002
Format: Paperback
This doesn't feel like a book - literally. It's a different size and shape, the pages are thick, the thing feels significantly heavier than it looks, and it's waterproof.
The design of the book is making a point also made in the text of the book: the current state of recycling generally turns higher quality products into lower quality ones useful only for purposes other than the original product, and then eventually discards them. This is not recycling; it's slow motion waste.
"Cradle to Cradle," the object, is intended to be easily and completely recyclable into a new book of the same quality.
"Cradle to cradle," the phrase, is contrasted to "cradle to grave."
"Cradle to Cradle," the text, argues in favor of making all human productions either recyclable in the way this book is or completely biodegradable so that they can be used as fertilizer.
In the future envisioned and partially created and described by this pair of authors, packaging will be tossed on the ground in response to signs reading "Please litter!" Appliances will be leased and returned to manufacturers to be completely recycled. Objects that must contain both biodegradable and inorganic recyclable elements will be easily separable into those respective parts: you'll toss the soles of your shoes into the garden and give the uppers back to the shoemaker. And the water coming out of factories will be cleaner than what came in, motivating the factory owners to reuse it and eliminating the need for the government to test its toxicity.
These authors teemed up on the 1991 Hannover Principles to guide the design of the 2000 World's Fair. McDonough has an architecture firm in Charlottesville, Va.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cradle to Cradle is the most intelligent book on environmentalism I have ever read, by far.

The most immediately impressive thing about Cradle to Cradle is the material itself. The fact that this book is not printed on paper gives some visceral justification to the theories inside.

However, much more impressive is the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) philosophy. Traditional recycling is flawed - instead, we need to change the way we design things. A cradle to grave philosophy is no longer necessary. We have the technology now to make much of our stuff travel in closed loops, being infinitely reused. We can't keep throwing things 'away' forever - sooner or later we'll run out of 'away'.

I love the pragmatism of Cradle to Cradle. When confronting problems of this scale, its easy to get lost or give up, but the authors instead attempt to provide a way to get there from here, acknowledging that it is unlikely that large numbers of people will decide to stop consuming, so instead focus their energies on making that consumption no longer damaging.

I bought a copy for my Engineering brother, and I hope that every single one of his colleagues reads it.
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