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Paperback Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things Book

ISBN: 0865475873

ISBN13: 9780865475878

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

A manifesto for a radically different philosophy and practice of manufacture and environmentalism

"Reduce, reuse, recycle" urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. But as this provocative, visionary book argues, this approach perpetuates a one-way, "cradle to grave" manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings


This book really lays out (and it's ten years old!) the fake-green selling of products that has taken the world by storm as we struggle to cope with the climate crisis. And will do everything we can to avoid making the real changes we need to make (hint: it's not electric cars and recycled plastics). A read everyone should have to really get a grasp on what "reusable" and "sustainable" mean for the things we produce.

Highly Recommended!

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.

Excellent Ideas Book

Let's be clear: this book is about ideas.It's not a "how to" manual. It's not a recipe book. It's about promoting the idea of designing things that "work" over their entire life cycle. Which includes the time they spend, for example, in landfill leaching toxins into the earth.It's about how many commonly used household products carry all sorts of chemical legacies of their "short cut" design processes. When spending more time in the design process could result in big savings at the factory, at the furniture superstore, and in the amount of toxins off-gassed into your home or into the environment.And it's about redesigning industrial processes inside large and small organisations to both save a LOT of money, and achieve the goal of "whole life cycle" safety and excellence.And so, in explaining these concepts, there is little space for pages and pages of graphs and chemical formulas. It's a concept book - not an industrial chemistry manual.It seems like there are three kinds of people who will read this book:1) People who know nothing about the topic. Folk like this will be blown away by the possibility this book represents and will ask "WHY!?" the kinds of things outlined in the book aren't done as routine.2) Industrial Chemists/Scientists. Folk like this will probably say "Yes! At last this stuff is getting publicised!" These people won't need the pages of formulas other reviewers have criticised the book for not having, they will know that stuff already.3) Pseudo-Intellectuals. These people will likely criticise the book for not having the formulas and graphs they couldn't understand if it did.If you want ideas, buy this book. If you want a chemistry textbook, buy one.

Change your way of thinking about progress

"Cradle to Crade" is a fabulous book. Regardless of whether you agree with the authors' views, you will find excellent arguments, good research, and clear explanations from philosophical, historical, scientific, and business perspectives.The upshot of the book is that humanity's whole philosophy of designing technology is destructive to the planet. What we need to do is realize that since the Earth is a closed system, we need to use industrial processes that both avoid toxifying the environment and produce finished products whose raw materials can be endlessly reused. We're not talking convential recycling programs, where various kinds of plastic get melted together to produce a big mass of low-quality material. The authors provide several examples of products that meet their conditions. They're well-equipped to do so, since for a decade they've run a design firm that helps companies do exactly what they preach.There's more to this book than just a "2nd industrial revolution". When the authors apply the same basic ideas to urban planning, economic "efficiency", or health issues, it really gives us some great points to ponder. Hopefully some of us will even be inspired to action. It's really a very important book.

The proof is in your hands

Proof that our technologically advanced, high-consumption industrial system can make environmentally sound and sustainable products. We can manufacture a whole range of goods that are ecologically efficient in that they reduce waste and yet are less expensive to make than traditionally manufactured items. Pick up CRADLE TO CRADLE and the proof is right there in your hands. "This book is not a tree" the authors tell us. Its slightly heavier than your average paperback, the pages are whiter and they're also waterproof (I took the authors word on that one and am happy to say I was able to read on). The pages are made from plastic resins and fillers and in keeping with the message of "eliminating waste", the book is 100% recyclable.McDonough and Braungart's vision of "Remaking the Way We Make Things" goes way beyond books. Why not buildings that produce more energy than they consume? Or "green" roofs that give off oxygen while cooling the occupants? How about factories that produce drinkable effluent? or products that when their useful life is over can be used as nutrients for soil? What sounds like science fiction is convincingly shown to be quite feasible by the authors. They offer numerous examples to prove it."We see a world of abundance, not limits" they say. As an architect (McDonough) and chemist (Braungart) they don't have any special qualifications for this re-thinking and re-doing. What they simply have done is re-imagine the whole manufacturing process beginning with the design elements. Sometimes it's simply a matter of asking the right questions and looking at things differently. They are not talking about smaller-scale industry or limiting themselves to the "four R's" of traditional environmentalism - reuse, recycle, reduce, and regulate. With their intelligent designs, "bigger and better" is possible "in a way that replenishes, restores, and nourishes the rest of the world." McDonough and Braungart cover topics such as the history of the industrial revolution, new business strategies that emphasize eco-efficiency, the relationship between man, nature, and science, and the importance of design and planning. Hopeful, well written, thoroughly researched, and packed with practical examples, this refreshing book offers an alternative to our current industrial system that "takes, makes and wastes". We have the talent, technology, and with the enthusiasm of these authors, we have the capability to achieve economic and ecological sustainability.

A Truly New Kind of Book

I can't think of another book that so obviously practices what it preaches as _Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things_ (North Point Press) by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Books are usually printed on a fairly high grade of paper (compared to, say, that used in newspapers), paper which everyone knows comes from cutting down pretty and naturally useful trees. The paper is printed with inks that have heavy metals and other chemicals in them. You can recycle a book, but those chemicals get to be part of the mess, and are expensive to remove. Anyway, you don't really recycle it, you _down_cycle it (the authors' term), because the paper in it can only be bleached and chemically treated to turn it into a lower grade of paper, such as for newspapers. And newspapers can be turned into toilet paper, in further downcycling. _Cradle to Cradle_ is about breaking out of such "cycles" and into real cycles. It has smooth, bright white pages that are heavy, like the paper in the best books. They are not, however, paper in the usual sense, although you probably wouldn't notice the difference unless your attention was called to it. They are made of plastic resins and inorganic fillers. Although the pages are designed to last as long as any paper book, these pages can be recycled by conventional means to make more paper of equal quality. They might even be _up_cycled into resins of greater complexity and utility. The ink on them can be easily removed by a safe solvent bath, or washing with extremely hot water, and does not contain dangerous chemicals. The authors, one an architect and one a chemist, created McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry in 1995, to consult with companies about designing sustaining products and factories. They have the ear of such companies as Ford and Nike, and their book is a primer on how they would like to see manufacturing work in the future to take part in natural cycles having little effect on the overall ecology of the earth. It is a rather thrilling little manifesto, by two obviously bright guys who don't let their optimism get in the way of bringing in real results. The idea is for products and processes not to be "less bad," but like ants or trees, to be positively good for the environment. "Waste is food" is the principle. Making products that can be composted, or can be used again without degrading them or the environment can be done, and it is no dream. Much of the book shows how the authors, as consultants, have put such principles into action.It can be done. The words of the authors, clearly concerned about the future of the planet, are enthusiastic and convincing, and given the examples in this surprising book, it is clear that we will be seeing more design of products and processes that are incorporated into natural cycles. Given the example of the book itself, a good looking product on its own, the advantages are clear. And if that isn't enough, the book can be read without risk in
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