Friday, 2 March 2012

Cradle to Cradle

I have just finished another really thought provoking book, "Cradle to Cradle; Remaking the way we make things" but Michael Braungart and William McDonough.

OK - not anything to do with the book - but it is a 'Cradle' in a (almost) pristine environment - and a really nice picture.

I came across it when ordering my copy of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan.  It looked interesting so I put it on hold through the library.

It's only a relatively slim volume, 186 pages plus notes, but the ideas are wide ranging.

I started reading it to learn more about what we can do to reduce our impact on the environment - but this book isn't about that.

It's premise is that we should be moving towards redesigning all we do so that our ecology, economy and culture (equity) is enhanced by our actions.  That biological and technological 'nutrients' (such as metals) need not be squandered, but that the systems and objects in which they are used should be designed such that they are returned to the nutrient pool at the end of one 'life', ready to begin another, at a similar level of quality.

It is far more than a book about saving the environment - it is a whole different way of looking at economics, design, resources, and society.  About effectiveness, rather than just efficiency.  Professor Braungart has a great summary of their vision here.

It is a long road to travel, and I felt a bit overwhelmed & depressed in the middle - everything looked so complex and so bleak.  But there are some inspiring stories of major companies starting to look at their business in new ways, and the final chapter points to the value of each step on the journey to a world enriched by our presence, not damaged by it.

Now we just have to get it onto the reading lists of all engineering, economic, business, legal, architecture, chemistry, design......schools on the planet, and build a generation of thinkers to take us there.

Highly recommended reading.

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