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    Book Review On Upcycling And The Environment: Cradle to Cradle (2002)

    Posted on November 14, 2012 by Danielle

    Green living, organic foods, fair-trade — people’s awareness really has changed since the first Earth Day in 1970. But there’s always more that can be done, and certainly when it comes to the way businesses operate. It’s no longer enough to replace trashcans with recycling bins or remove the paper cup dispenser at the water cooler, forcing employees to bring their own mugs.

    cradle to cradle coverIn their seminal book Cradle to Cradle (2002), authors William McDonough and Michael Braungart turn the focus from recycling to upcycling, a process in which used products are made new without losing quality of the organic. The slogan ‘Cradle to Cradle’ illustrates the process in which entities — natural and manmade alike — give back the resources they required to come into being and more. McDonough and Braungart refer to organisms like trees, which require sun, water and soil only and provide food, shelter, organic matter, and oxygen to support new life. Using this design as the premise for their argument, the authors hope to revise the ‘Cradle to Grave’ course that so many manmade products take. Computers can be recycled, of course, but typically only into raw materials to produce goods that cannot be recycled again.

    McDonough and Braungart propose that upcycling not only results in higher-quality products, but also encourages people to participate in sustainable practices. Rather than adhere to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (3Rs) campaign from the 80s, the authors encourage us to think outside of the box. The popular 3Rs approach, they argue, fosters a negative belief that reducing our impact on the earth necessitates that we scale back our urge to invent and produce. This belief is not just discouraging. It also prevents us from realizing that human innovation is exactly what is needed to move beyond ‘Cradle to Grave’.

    Cradle to Cradle is a great read for individuals looking for ideas on how to move beyond the uninspired gesture of setting out the recycling bins on garbage day. Additionally, the book offers large-scale ideas for companies such as redesigning office buildings so that they actually breathe in fresh air into the building and natural light, and expel filtered water and waste materials to create and nourish natural habitats for local wildlife. But it’s not necessary to start big. The smart design of the book itself  pages made for recycled plastics that are waterproof and high quality in look and feel is exemplary of the small steps companies can take toward big changes.

    Cradle to Cradle is a great read for individuals looking for ideas on how to move beyond the uninspired gesture of setting out the recycling bins on garbage day. Additionally, the book offers large-scale ideas for companies such as redesigning office buildings so that they actually breathe in fresh air into the building and natural light, and expel filtered water and waste materials to create and nourish natural habitats for local wildlife. But it’s not necessary to start big. The smart design of the book itself  — cover and pages that are both waterproof and high quality in look and feel, created from recycled plastics and other synthetic materials — is exemplary of the small steps companies can take toward big changes.

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    Danielle DeSoto for HipcycleDanielle is an upcycling, green living, environmentally friendly, recycling, tree-hugging freak of nature... in the most eco way possible of course! She spends her weekends saving the planet and will now be writing about it for the Hipcycle Blog.


    This post was posted in Blog and was tagged with danielle, book review, cradle to cradle

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