In 2002 the architect William McDonough and the chemist Micheal Braungart published a book entitled ‘Cradle to cradle’. Now, a little over five years later their ideas about environmental friendly production and consumption are taking over the world. Why is their philosophy so popular? Because yo get all the benefits the ‘old school’ environmentalists promise, but give you none of the scary doom-scenarios. Cradle to cradle is no about reducing our pollution of this planet, it’s a non-polluting philosophy. Actually; it’s not jut a philosophy at all. All their ideas work in practice too as a growing number of governments and multinational companies such as GM, Herman Miller, and Phillips are finding out right now.
The central ideas of the cradle to cradle concept:
– No company will produce waste on purpose; waste has no monetary value (a lot of times it actually costs money) so if you can reduce all the waste to zero; companies will benefit financially straight away. A VP of the Ford company said that it takes 50K pounds of materials to build a 3K pound car. They are no working on building a 3K car out of 3K of materials. That would definitely save a lot of money.
– Waste = food: all the by-products as well as the product itself will eventually have to be taken up into the ecosystem, where it should be non-polluting at least and even adding food to the ecosystem at best. In the latter case: the more waste you produce, the better it is for the environment. Think of cars that run on compressed oxygen: the more you drive around, the cleaner the air gets
– Traditional ‘recycling’ is actually down-cycling; discarded products get turn in to lesser quality products before it eventually gets burned anyway. At the design stage you should consider how you can use all the different parts of the product when the product itself has reached the end of its life-cycle. Reusing the soles of your sneakers as a gym-court floor is not recycling the stuff, that’s down cycling, taking of the sole and building a new shoe on top of it; that’s recycling.
Obviously, there’s only so much that McDonough and Braungart can do themselves. The main part of the work has to be done by the producers and governments… and by –erm– … ‘us’. Anyone got a thought on how we can create cradle to cradle art pieces?