Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
The Cradle-to-Cradle Alternative
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org
By William McDonough & Michael Braungart. From McDonough.com:


Imagine a world in which all the things we make, use, and consume provide nutrition for nature and industry—a world in which growth is good and human activity generates a delightful, restorative ecological footprint.

While this may seem like heresy to many in the world of sustainable development, the destructive qualities of today’s cradle-to-grave industrial system can be seen as the result of a fundamental design problem, not the inevitable outcome of consumption and economic activity. Indeed, good design—principled design based on the laws of nature—can transform the making and consumption of things into a regenerative force.

This new conception of design—known as cradle-to-cradle design—goes beyond retrofitting industrial systems to reduce their harm. Conventional approaches to sustainability often make the efficient use of energy and materials their ultimate goal. While this can be a useful transitional strategy, it tends to reduce negative impacts without transforming harmful activity. Recycling carpet, for example, might reduce consumption, but if the attached carpet backing contains PVC, which most carpet backing does, the recycled product is still on a one-way trip to the landfill, where it becomes hazardous waste.

Cradle-to-cradle design, on the other hand, offers a framework in which the effective, regenerative cycles of nature provide models for wholly positive human designs. Within this framework we can create economies that purify air, land, and water, that rely on current solar income and generate no toxic waste, that use safe, healthful materials that replenish the earth or can be perpetually recycled, and that yield benefits that enhance all life.

Over the past decade, the cradle-to-cradle framework has evolved steadily from theory to practice. In the world of industry it is creating a new conception of materials and material flows. Just as in the natural world, in which one organism’s “waste” cycles through an ecosystem to provide nourishment for other living things, cradle-to-cradle materials circulate in closed-loop cycles, providing nutrients for nature or industry. This model recognizes two metabolisms within which materials flow as healthy nutrients.

First, nature’s nutrient cycles constitute the biological metabolism. Materials designed to flow optimally in the biological metabolism are biological nutrients. Products conceived as these nutrients, such as biodegradable packaging, are designed to be used and safely returned to the environment to nourish living systems. Second, the technical metabolism, designed to mirror the earth’s cradle-to-cradle cycles, is a closed-loop system in which valuable, high-tech synthetics and mineral resources—technical nutrients—circulate in a perpetual cycle of production, recovery, and remanufacture. Ideally, all the human systems that make up the technical metabolism are powered by the renewable energy of the sun.

Biological and technical nutrients have already entered the marketplace. The upholstery fabric Climatex Lifecycle is a blend of pesticide-residue-free wool and organically grown ramie, dyed and processed entirely with nontoxic chemicals. All of its product and process inputs were defined and selected for their human and ecological safety within the biological metabolism. The result: the fabric trimmings are made into felt and used by garden clubs as mulch for growing fruits and vegetables, returning the textile’s biological nutrients to the soil.

Honeywell, meanwhile, is marketing a textile for the technical metabolism, a high-quality carpet yarn called Zeftron Savant, which is made of perpetually recyclable nylon 6 fiber. Zeftron Savant is designed to be reclaimed and repolymerized—taken back to its constituent resins—to become new material for new carpets. In fact, Honeywell can retrieve old, conventional nylon 6 and transform it into Zeftron Savant, which is in effect “upcycling” rather than downcycling an industrial material. The nylon is rematerialized, not dematerialized—a true cradle-to-cradle product.

In the commercial carpet industry, material recovery systems are providing a model for the development of technical metabolisms. Shaw Industries, for example, has developed a technical nutrient carpet tile for its commercial customers. The company guarantees that all of its nylon 6 carpet fiber will be taken back and returned to nylon 6 carpet fiber, and its safe polyolefin backing returned to safe polyolefin backing. Raw material to raw material. A cradle-to-cradle cycle.

Shaw’s technical nutrient carpet tile is conceived to be a product of service, a key element of the cradle-to-cradle strategy. Products of service are durable goods, such as carpets and washing machines, designed by their manufacturer to be taken back and used again. The product provides a service to the customer while the manufacturer maintains ownership of the product’s material assets. At the end of a defined period of use, the manufacturer takes back the product and reuses its materials in another high-quality product. Widely practiced, the product-of-service concept can change the nature of consumption as human systems powered by renewable energy reuse valuable materials through many product lifecycles.

On a large scale, cradle-to-cradle thinking can transform the nature of economies. In Chicago, for example, these principles are serving as a reference point as Mayor Richard Daley strives to make the city the greenest in America, a hub of energy effectiveness and beneficial material flows.

In a cradle-to-cradle economy, cities are the principal home and source of technical nutrition—the place where metals are forged, polymers synthesized, and tractors, computers, and windmills designed and manufactured. Cities send these materials forth into the world and receive them back as they move through closed-loop cycles. The countryside, meanwhile, can be seen as the home of the biological metabolism. Materials generated there—food, wood, fibers—are created through interactions of solar energy, soil, and water and are the source of biological nutrition for rural communities and nearby cities. One of the city’s fundamental roles in this metabolism is to return biological nutrition in a safe, healthy form, say as clean fertilizer, back to the rural soil. These flows of nutrients and energy are the twin metabolisms of the living city, the engines of the vibrant economies of the future.

Even nations as vast and influential as China have adopted cradle-to-cradle strategies. Building on a 4,000-year-old tradition of sustainable agriculture, Vice Minister of Science and Technology Madame Deng Nan announced in September 2002 that China will begin to develop industries and products based on cradle-to-cradle principles. Working with the China–U.S. Center for Sustainable Development, China is already developing a cradle-to-cradle village as well as solar and wind power enterprises.

The cradle-to-cradle strategy allows us to see our designs as delightful expressions of creativity, as life-support systems in harmony with energy flows, human souls, and other living things. When that becomes the hallmark of productive economies, consumption itself will have been transformed.
0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
The Daily Show's Trevor Noah Talks With Conservative Host Tomi Lahren
14 min · 9,831 views today · "Tomi" host Tomi Lahren gives her take on the Black Lives Matter movement and explains why she lashed out against Colin Kaepernick for his national anthem protest.
This Short Film Plays Out Like an Epic Movie That Will Shake Your Soul - But the Movie Is Real, and We are The Actors
6 min · 6,505 views today · For next year, we need a resolution capable of confronting the crisis we face, and making a future worth fighting for. This short film looks back on the crisis and confusion...
Bernie Sanders: Carrier Just Showed Corporations How to Beat Donald Trump
Bernie Sanders · 5,370 views today · We need a president who can stand up to big corporations, not fold to their demands.
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 4,187 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 3,139 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
Who's Really to Blame for Fake News? Look in the Mirror, America.
Neal Gabler · 2,866 views today · Consider for a moment the oxymoronic concept of “fake news,” which we have been hearing so much about lately. This isn’t your typical disinformation or misinformation —...
South Koreans Are Really Good at Protesting
2 min · 2,858 views today · South Koreans organize some of the largest and most peaceful protests in the world. Here's what makes them so good at protesting.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,672 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Corporate Giants' "Sustainable" Palm Oil Revealed as Sham
Nika Knight · 2,627 views today · Nestlé, Kellogg's, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others are linked to child labor and forced labor in Indonesia
A Tribe Called Red and Saul Williams Offer a Powerful Prayer for Standing Rock and Beyond
5 min · 1,501 views today · Music video for "The Virus" by A Tribe Called Red, featuring Saul Williams and Chippewa Travellers.
The 6 Grand Illusions That Keep Us Enslaved
Sigmund Fraud · 1,390 views today · For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. While the audience is entranced, the...
The Truth About the Alt-Right
11 min · 1,264 views today · Our comprehensive investigation into the Alt-Right movement, including its origins, its relation to the Trump campaign and broader implications for the future. Read more: What...
The Most Mind-Altering Photograph of All Time
4 min · 1,020 views today · Carl Sagan narrates the story of the Pale Blue Dot, the one place we all call home. 
Why You Should Stop Using Most Antibacterial Soaps
3 min · 978 views today · Antibacterial soaps could be doing a lot more harm than good - here's why.
EU Energy Targets Will 'Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions'
Nafeez Ahmed · 975 views today · New renewable energy plan undercuts itself by boosting dangerous wood-burning industries
The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy
3 min · 947 views today · What is the best way to ease someone's pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic...
Answering the Call: The American Struggle for the Right to Vote
75 min · 900 views today · Watch an exclusive and limited time online screening of Answering the Call, presented by Films For Action. If you enjoy watching, consider purchasing a DVD copy for a friend at...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 806 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Gabor Mate on the Myth of Normal
4 min · 652 views today · Physician Dr. Gabor Mate began his interview by addressing the 'myth of normal' that divides us into the normal and the abnormal with pathological traits. Dr. Mate mentions...
The Many Ways to Help Standing Rock
Sarah van Gelder · 580 views today · Even if you can’t show up at the wintry encampments, you can join water protectors in other ways: from calling the North Dakota governor to breaking up with your bank.
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
The Cradle-to-Cradle Alternative