Monday, September 5, 2011

Cradle to Cradle book review

As my summer is rapidly coming to a close I am marathoning all of the books I have set aside to read this summer (16 books in 4 weeks is what I am trying to achieve). One of those books on my long list was Cradle to Cradle by William Mcdonough and Michael Braungart. Cradle to Cradle is about changing our worldwide reliance on cradle to grave systems — systems that do not consider the use or disposal of the product and the materials it took to make it once the consumer is done with it. They show how to get waste to equal food for our systems, both technical (consumer goods) and natural systems (soil building, water quality, ect.). It is about "remaking the way we make things."

Image courtesy of Steven Clark

The book itself is a testimony for everything they write about in the book. It is made of plastic (eeek, I know, that word gives me the chills, but it gets better) that should not leach chemicals and can be endlessly remade into other books (or other items made out of the same material). This means that trees will not have to be harmed and the plastic will not end up being downcycled or spending eternity in our landfills. The pages themselves are nearly indestructible. If you hate it when pages get folded or the cover wrinkles, or you ruin books with water or other terrible tragedies, this is the perfect media for your reading pleasure. They considered everything from the "paper", ink, glue, and end of life of the materials. 

Image courtesy of

This book is a must read for everyone who wants to better understand the negative affects of our current manufacturing system and the potential solutions. It injects hope that we have control over our future and that we can make things better (something many environmentally minded people often are unable to feel). 

I feel bad admitting this, but overall I thought the book left me wanting more. The examples they wrote about in each chapter were interesting, but the rest was a bit too technical for me without giving more general real-world explanations or suggestions. It left me wondering how I, as a consumer instead of a chemist, company owner, or designer, could make a difference in our cradle to grave lifestyle. However, Cradle to Cradle made me see the opportunities new design and ingenuity can create and the potential we have to completely change the way we view consumer goods and their relation to our natural environment. It also made me consider a few things in different ways, and I underlined quite a few things that may end up on here soon too (or in my next term paper : ) ).

For anyone who wants to know more about our manufacturing system of cradle to grave items, this book will be interesting and informative. I would also recommend it for other students who would like an extra text to refer to in class to impress teachers : ). For anyone interested in design, this books is a must. 

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