Hands down, one of the most inspiring and influential duo in my life have been architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart.
Creaters of the Cradle to Cradle design philosophy, they blew me away with their vision of seeing a “world of abundance, not limits”. I am completely drawn to their maverick idea that “design is a signal of intention” and theirs is to shift the current endlessly destructive model to one that “loves all children, of all species, for all time”.
Rather than making humans feel guilty, the C2C concept celebrates human creativity, culture and productivity, integrating nature’s effective design principles with business and the environment.
Scoffing at the traditional “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra as just a “downcycling” spiral, C2C design focuses on making products such that they enter either the “technical” or “biological” nutrient cycle once their life is over. This way they can be completely used in another avatar rather than ending up in landfills.
In other words, the goal is to eliminate waste completely and turn it into food. This is “eco-effectiveness” as opposed to the herd mentality of “eco-efficiency”.
The new breed of eco-effective designers are constructing:
- Buildings that, like trees, produce more energy than they consume and purify their own waster water
- Factories that produce effluents that are drinking water
- And – a personal favorite – ice cream wrappers (biodegradable and embedded with seeds of endangered species) that can be freely littered into the earth where they dissolve and sprout new life!
In one of his interviews, Michael joked that given a choice, would you strive for your relationship with your significant other to be merely “sustainable” or something greater? Similarly, in a world running amok chanting “sustainability”, he challenges us to shift our notion of what is possible.
Like the industrious ant or the generous cherry tree, could humans use their ingenuity to become integrated natives of the planet rather than isolated consumers?
Read the book Cradle to Cradle
Get your C2C mojo on with this iconic documentary Waste Equals Food: