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Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #32 in Books


Pros: Treeless book, mind-stretching

Cons: Some of it's depressing, not really waterproof, not a ton of actionable suggestions on an individual level

I would call Cradle to Cradle a seminal work in the world of sustainable design and in the green movement at large.  McDonough and Braungart are doing some incredible things and have a great perspective on design, business, industry, waste, and living sustainably.  You'll read things in there that make you say "duh" but you'll also read things that make you think "huh...that's brilliant." 


One of the great parts of the book is the notion that growth, the right growth, can be great for the environment.  But it's a question of how to achieve the "right" growth that nurtures and protects the environment, and does not degrade it or exploit it.


There's a good portion of the book that will depress you.  I tend to refer back to McDonough's notion that "being less bad is not being good."  Yes.  That's true.  But that idea can be incredibly disempowering.  So don't be surprised if you feel disempowered when you read the first half or two-thirds of the book.  Keep reading.  While McDonough and Braungart don't spend ages talking about starting points or concrete suggestions on how to achieve sustainability, you'll have hope by the end of the book.  You might never look at recycling the same way, but you'll still have hope.


Let's talk about the physical manifestation of the book itself.  It's made from synthetic 'paper,' made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers...according to McDonough's website, it was "designed to look and feel like top quality paper while also being waterproof and rugged."'s pretty rugged (as it I don't think I'm going to rip a page at every turn) but it's not really 100% waterproof.  A few of my classmates tried reading in the shower.  Their books were still kind of soggy and the pages were rather try it if you can't resist.  But you've been warned.


All in all, I would definitely say add it to your reading list.

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

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. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in their provocative, visionary book, however, 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 as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world, they ask.In fact, why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective; hence, "waste equals food" is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new-either as "biological nutrients" that safely re-enter the environment or as "technical nutrients" that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles, without being "downcycled" into low-grade uses (as most "recyclables" now are). Elaborating their principles from experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.

Additional Features
TypeGreen building and architecture
Release Date
LabelNorth Point Press
List Price$27.50
ManufacturerNorth Point Press
PublisherNorth Point Press
StudioNorth Point Press
Number Of Items1
AuthorMichael Braungart
Number Of Pages208
Publication Date2002-04-22
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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