Cradle to Cradle

18Oct07

Buy this book right now. Or get it from a library, borrow it from a friend, speed read it at Barnes and Noble, whatever you have to do.

Bill McDonough and Mike Braungart pose a totally revolutionary paradigm in product, architectural, community and systems design. Not to steal thunder from the text itself, which you should be ordering right now in another tab, the general idea here is biomimicry on the scale of industry as a whole. Short-sighted environmentalism and eco-efficiency is tossed out the window in favor of the childishly simple, just-crazy-enough-to-work notion of waste equals food, eliminating waste from industry and designing products that can be truly recycled (not shoehorned into inferior applications that they were never intended for) as food for biology or for other industrial processes.

And there’s also this insane idea about making things that don’t seriously injure the people using them. Simplifying material compositions – most consumer products are somehow made out of thousands of compounds – and using natural, sustainable* materials that can be composted or reformed into new things, and that don’t offgas mutagens or toxins and contribute to sick building syndrome.

Now seriously, I’m exhausted and can’t do it justice, so just go read it. If every designer read this and took it to heart, we’d have a world worth caring about again.

*Scratch that. Not sustainable, better. Constructive? To paraphrase from the text referenced, “if a married couple described their relationship as sustainable you might well pity them both.”

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