BOOK REVIEW: Cradle to Cradle

Dispatch from SSC Intern Barbara Summers

I just recently finished reading Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Makes Things by Michael Braungart and William McDonough. This book will definitely make you reevaluate the position that industries are taking in mainstream environmental movements. Instead of the traditional environmentalist view of industry being the environment’s enemy, the book’s authors advocate that it could be part of the solution. The concepts proposed in this book may seem very radical, but in actuality there are a lot of practical solutions that make these concepts seem very much probable.

And Braungart and McDonough even prove, through practical case studies, that businesses can actually reduce their costs and increase their profits by implementing the Cradle to Cradle approach.

Braungart and McDonough suggest that nature and commerce should be able to co-exist. They suggest that this can be done through a “cradle to cradle” process as opposed to the traditional “cradle to grave” process where all products eventually end up in the landfill. Even recyclable products can only be recycled so many times before their core ingredients lose their quality and end up in the dump.

The “cradle to cradle” concept defined by the authors is the perpetual reuse of materials, in which the concept of waste completely disappears. This can be done by maintaining the biological nutrients (materials that can biodegrade safely) and the technical nutrients (materials that feed the industrial processes i.e. copper) in such a way so that each can be reused continuously.

The actual book itself demonstrates the main idea for the cradle to cradle concept; it is made of plastic resins instead of paper and can be completely recycled so that all of the materials can be reused without reducing the quality.

To find out more, visit William McDonough’s official website here.

You can also read a related article and watch a video about the Cradle to Cradle concept by clicking